The Logic Behind The botObjects Acquisition

By on January 11th, 2015 in Corporate, Ideas

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Last week 3D Systems announced they’d acquired botObjects, but many could not understand why 3D Systems would do so. We found out why.

In case you haven’t heard of botObjects, it was a company purportedly making a full color 3D printer. Many in the industry were suspicious of these claims, including us. Eventually we learned it was not a truly full color 3D printer, but one capable of mixing filaments to change colors layer by layer as prints proceeded. Interesting, but not “full color”. 

Our discussion with 3D Systems at CES hinted at what the company may have been thinking when they did the acquisition. 

For the moment, they revealed the “CubePro C”, which is in fact merely a relabeled botObjects ProDesk3D. We were informed that this is merely a demonstration of the technology they hope to incorporate into future color-capable 3D printers. 

It seems that 3D Systems did acquire botObjects for their technology. This technology involves mixing differently colored plastic filaments just before extrusion, creating an ability to theoretically generate any color, so long as you’re feeding the mixing chamber with an appropriate mix of base color filaments. 

But the problem is that botObjects’ implementation involves changing colors by layer, which, as we said, is a pretty severe limitation on printing arbitrarily colored objects. 

We suspect that 3D Systems believes they can solve the issue with software. Imagine a future machine that can intelligently detect color switches – within a layer – and cause the extruder to pause and mix a new color. It could then switch colors arbitrarily throughout the printing process, albeit a bit more slowly than normal continuous printing. 

So it appears 3D Systems liked the hardware and believe they can make it work better with new software. 

We suspect their experience with industrial color 3D printing software will enable this to succeed, but they’ll spend some time yet preparing a feasible implementation. 

Stay tuned for some very interesting announcements later this year from 3D Systems. 

Via 3D Systems

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!