One of the 3D printing giants swallowed up a small startup making a multicolor personal 3D printer: 3D Systems owns botObjects.
botObjects has been around for a couple of years now, focusing on a multicolor process for personal 3D printing. The company has been considered controversial by many due to their very mysterious marketing approach combined with technological claims that were not likely feasible.
Originally touted as a “full color 3D printer”, the product was eventually revealed to be a “can switch different colored filaments during printing” machine. While filament switching is indeed an advance in technology, it does not permit “full color” printing of any colors in any texture pattern. But it is useful for “spot color” where specific colors from a small set can be assigned to portions of 3D model. However, 3D Systems says:
botObjects also invented a proprietary 5-color CMYKW cartridge system, capable of mixing primary printing colors on the fly to generate vibrant color combinations and gradient transitions.
We’re still skeptical that such a technology can deliver much more than gradients and color switches, as very rapid and precise color switching is required to print arbitrary color textures, such as images.
We are not certain of botObjects’ financial success after their recent product launch, but it’s all moot now as 3D Systems has officially acquired the small UK-based startup.
Why acquire botObjects? It appears that 3D Systems has announced a new personal 3D printer capable of color printing, the CubePro C, which incorporates technology perhaps similar to botObjects. It thus could be that 3D Systems has acquired the intellectual property (e.g. patents or patent applications, trade secret tech and technical expertise) for this form of color 3D printing. Or perhaps just taken out a potential long-term competitor. In any case, 3D systems says botObjects’ ProDesk3D will become part of the “CubePro C family”.
We’ll have more on the new CubePro C when we get a close look this week at CES.
Via 3D Systems