A surprise announcement late yesterday indicates the hugely popular LulzBot brand of desktop 3D printers will survive!
The company behind LulzBot, Aleph Objects of Colorado, announced drastic layoffs about a month ago, leading to widespread speculation that the company might shut down and take LulzBot with it. However, at the time Aleph Objects representatives indicated there was an intent to find a buyer for the operation.
And it appears they have found a buyer: FAME 3D.
Wait, you’ve likely never heard of FAME 3D. It stands for “Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D”, which I strongly suspect is the parent company for Fargo 3D Printing, a well-known regional 3D printer parts supplier, that just happens to be one of the major providers of LulzBot parts.
[UPDATE] We’ve been contacted by Fargo 3D Printing, who say:
“We know some of the parties who consulted for the buyer, but we didn’t buy LulzBot. We didn’t start FAME and it isn’t our parent company as some have claimed.”
Therefore, our speculation below regarding Fargo 3D Printing turns out to be just that: speculation. Meanwhile it seems that FAME 3D is an entirely new and mysterious operation. We’ll find out more and provide an update in a future post.
Terms of the deal were not announced, but the announcement says:
“We are pleased to announce that the assets of Aleph Objects located in Loveland CO, including the well-known LulzBot 3D printing brand, have been acquired by Fargo Additive Manufacturing Equipment 3D (FAME 3D), a Fargo, ND company.
Grant Flaharty, CEO of Aleph Objects, and now FAME 3D says this, “LulzBot is one of the core leaders in the Desktop 3D Printing Industry. It’s an organization filled with intelligent, innovative people and solutions that are changing the opportunities for Manufacturing and Medical Markets. We couldn’t stand by and watch that type of innovation to go unrealized.”
So it seems that Aleph Objects’ CEO is now the CEO of FAME 3D? That makes a great deal of sense if FAME 3D intends on running the LulzBot brand in much the same way it always has. That is likely the case, as the announcement continues to say:
“FAME 3D is continuing the open source legacy for its customer products. Now with solid financial backing, we can continue with cutting edge innovation, high quality long-lasting printers, and product advancements aimed at providing industry-leading solutions.
LulzBot will be placing a renewed effort on customer support and responsiveness to customer feedback to help improve its current and future product offerings.
The LulzBot TAZ Workhorse, TAZ Pro, and Mini 2 3D printers are recipients of numerous industry awards and are available for order now.”
The announcement specifically says FAME 3D has acquired the “assets” of Aleph Objects, which would include the remaining 3D printers, the brand and perhaps other items. However, since the LulzBot equipment was entirely open sourced, the designs themselves are not really assets to be transferred: everyone can access them anytime.
Manufacturing LulzBot 3D Printers?
Prior to the announcement, Fargo 3D Printing essentially sold repair parts for 3D printers, with a scant selection of complete desktop 3D printers. With this maneuver, the company now is in the 3D printer manufacturing business, or at least able to dispose of the previously manufactured LulzBot units still in stock.
However, there is the matter of the large number of departed staff from Aleph Objects who previously designed and built the LulzBot equipment. They’re gone and perhaps have new roles elsewhere, so it will be quite challenging for FAME 3D to resurrect the LulzBot manufacturing operation.
It’s not clear if they intend to do so based on the rather brief announcement. It’s also not clear where they would do so: at the Colorado location or in Fargo. I’m sure we’ll hear a lot more about this very soon, as they probably have a lot to deal with at this early stage.
FAME 3D Strategy?
There’s another clue here. Fargo 3D Printing is located on 7th street in Fargo, ND, and seems to be co-located with 3D-Fuel, a noted manufacturer of 3D printer filament. Could it be that FAME 3D now owns three operations: Fargo 3D Printing (Parts), 3D-Fuel (Materials) and now LulzBot (Printers)?
One frequently seen corporate strategy is to gather together separate operations that complement each other, and this trio certainly seems like that’s what could be happening on 7th street.
However, as we all know, Aleph Objects had trouble making a go of it financially, resulting in their recent layoffs. FAME 3D will have to change things in some way to avoid repeating the same path as Aleph Objects.