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In earlier articles, we discussed 3D Bio-Printing technology company Organovo. What many Organovo investors might not know is that a little known German company, EnvisionTEC, is already selling a 3D Bio-Printer which has been sold commercially since 2001 and is currently installed in many research universities, labs, and hospitals worldwide. The price is just under 200,000 USD according to this article by TGDaily. In addition to its bio-printing offering, EnvisionTEC’s broad product line of 3D printers targets many other industry applications including jewelry, dental, and hearing aids which they claim to hold 60% of the market share in.
Founded in 2002 in Marl Germany, privately held EnvisionTEC has around 90 patents worldwide protecting their Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D printing technology from Texas Instruments. Their customers include Disney, Ford, P&G, Kraft, Bvlgari, and Cartier. In a case study presented by the Company, Novartis evaluated their printer for a medical implant application against similar 3D printer offerings from 3D Systems, Stratasys, and Objet and settled on EnvisionTEC.
EnvisionTEC is selling a 3D-Bioplotter which is available for purchase. According to a report published by the UC Berkeley College of Engineering, the 3D-Bioplotter can print using a much broader range of biomaterials than Organovo’s NovoGen MMX:
Like Organovo’s NovoGen MMX, the Bioplotter prints bio-ink ’tissue spheroids’ and supportive scaffold materials including fibrin and collagen hydrogels. However, the Bioplotter can also print a wider range of biomaterials, including biodegradable polymers and ceramics that may be used to support and form artificial organs and to serve as bio-printed substitutes for bone.
Using this printer, Columbia University created a 3D scaffold in the shape of an incisor and implanted it into the jawbone of a rat. After nine weeks the implantation triggered the growth of periodontal ligaments and started to grow the bones needed to support teeth.
The company has a diverse product line of 6 printer families with 22 different 3D printers targeting various applications. The Perfactory Micro DDP printer targets dental applications with 10 crowns per build. The Perfactory Desktop Aureus is their best-selling machine for customized jewelry. The desktop PixCera is for small dental labs and can print up to 20 copings, crowns and up to 7 unit bridges in 2 hours. The Company’s Ultra 3Dent printer for dental applications claims it is at least 2 times faster than any competitive product on the market today.
Litigation with 3D Systems
In 2005, EnvisionTec was sued by 3D Systems for patent infringement. 6 years later in 2011, the Court ruled that Envisiontec infringed upon a claim of 3D Systems U.S. Patent Number 5,630,981 and that Envisiontec’s Vanquish systems sold under the Perfactory Xede and Perfactory Xtreme names infringed a claim of 2 patents held by 3D Systems relating to stereolithography technology. EnvisionTEC no longer appears to carry either of these product lines.
With Stratasys and 3D systems looking to grow through acquisitions, EnvisionTEC seems like a mature company with a diversified product offering that would complement either of these suitors.
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