In an almost unbelievable announcement today, 3D Systems has apparently acquired ZCorp, one of their major competitors. In addition to ZCorp, 3D Systems also picked up Vidar, a leading manufacturer of medical film digitizers. The cost of these two simultaneous acquisitions puts a USD$137M dent into 3D Systems' wallet, which will be refilled by a simultaneous placement of USD$152M in senior convertible notes.
With this acquisition 3D Systems gains not only ZCorp's large market share, but also their technology. This adds to 3D Systems' already extensive list of 3D printing processes - and associated patents. Not only was ZCorp itself profitable, but they also had a very extensive network of resellers who now could be tasked to sell the entire 3D Systems product line, boosting profits far above simply adding ZCorp's bottom line. According to 3D Systems, the immediate synergies beyond adding company profits together could add another USD$5-10M in profit per year.
A major technological gain for 3D Systems is ZCorp's color printing capability. ZCorp was the only major 3D printer manufacturer to market a device capable of on-demand multicolor 3D printing. Now, 3D Systems will be the only such company. We hope color tech will now leak into 3D Systems' other products.
ZCorp and Vidar were previously owned by Ratos AB, a Swedish holding company specializing in developing valuable technology properties. Their goal: "generate, over time, the highest possible return through the professional, active and responsible exercise of its ownership role in a number of selected companies". It's therefore unsurprising that Ratos sold off these holdings as they had grown significantly in value.
The acquisition of Vidar is a bit puzzling, as it doesn't initially appear to be related to 3D printing. However, it does have its own large network of medical resellers, through which 3D Systems may gain even more opportunities to sell their entire product line. It may also be that taking Vidar was a condition of the sale by Ratos.
Another very significant outcome of this deal is a fundamental change in 3D Systems revenue breakdown: now, for the first time, the majority of their revenue comes from what they call the "Personal and Professional" market, as opposed to large "Production" 3D printers. 3D Systems is now a personal 3D printer company!
Who's left standing among the big 3D printer companies? Israel-based Objet and giant Stratasys. 3D Systems likely isn't interested in or could afford to purchase Stratasys, but since their shopping cart is handy, what about Objet? There's still one month left in the year!
Via 3D Systems (PDF)