In a perhaps not-so-surprising announcement, GoProto has acquired 3D Systems’ Australian on-demand 3D print services.
In a press release, GoProto said:
“As of December 1st, 2020, GoProto has acquired 3D Systems’ Australian on-demand manufacturing facility, the largest 3D digital manufacturer in the APAC region. Located in Melbourne, Australia and commissioned just 2 years ago, the state-of-the-art facility houses a full range of 3D Systems production-ready 3D printers and a highly experienced management and operations team. This pivotal acquisition will accelerate GoProto’s strategy to become the largest Industry 4.0 player in the Australian market.”
There was no announcement from 3D Systems on this move, although they did announce the appointment of a new board member focused on the medical market that is so important to 3D Systems at this time.
For GoProto, this is an incredible step. In one transaction they have acquired a facility, modern 3D printing equipment, expert staff and a portfolio of existing Australian clients. Instant business!
GoProto, now based in San Diego, has been in the business for quite a few years. They provide a number of manufacturing services beyond 3D printing, including CNC machining, sheet metal work, urethane casting, injection molding, and other finishing processes. Simultaneous with the 3D Systems acquisition announcement, GoProto also announced they’ve acquired a laser scanning company, WYSIWYG, which should add another function to their catalog.
The Australian operation appears to be the biggest step forward by the company, as it now operates in two major zones: North America and Asia-Pacific. It’s likely they will be able to form some synergies between the two operations to make things more efficient, and it’s also possible there may be work sent between the sites for clients as well.
While the new Australian facility is obviously full of new 3D Systems gear, GoProto is an HP partner and uses their equipment extensively. In fact, they’ve recently added two HP 5210 units to their San Diego location that apparently will boost their capacity by “approximately 50%”. Evidently business is booming for the company.
3D Systems Divestment
On the other side of this equation is 3D Systems, who have released this asset to GoProto. This is all part of a new strategy by the long-time 3D printer manufacturer.
The company has been under financial strain for quite a few years, having not posted a profitable quarter for a very long time. They’ve been surviving through the use of their on-hand capital, but that is not a wise approach for the long term.
3D Systems was one of the original developers of 3D printing and as such grew strongly until 2014/15, mainly by acquiring a wide variety of companies with leverage of their ever-increasing stock price. One of 3D Systems’ prime acquisition targets at the time was globally-located 3D print services. These acquisitions gave the company a massive service network that exists to this day.
But that strategy fell apart when their stock value fell in 2015, along with most other 3D print stocks. The result was a company overflowing with acquisitions, at least 50 by our count.
3D Systems’ previous CEO attempted to organize them, but ultimately did not succeed. He was replaced by Jeffrey Graves earlier this year, and his strategy to achieve profitability is quite different.
While he’s been doing some internal cutting, it is now clear he’s prepared to cut loose some (or maybe many) of these earlier acquisitions. Earlier 3D Systems divested themselves of Cimatron, and there are many more similar acquisitions that may face the same fate.
It’s curious that 3D Systems is releasing a chunk of their global network. It is likely not that the unit was unprofitable, but rather that its profit allowed 3D Systems to gain a good return on the sale. That’s good news for GoProto and good news for 3D Systems, who seem to be consolidating their assets.
This will definitely not be the last of 3D Systems’ belt-tightening moves, and I’m very curious to see what they look like when it’s all done.