3D Systems Continues Acquisition Spree
In September of this year, we published an article highlighting 14 acquisitions 3D Systems has made this year. Just this month, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) has made 3 additional acquisitions. The first acquisition on December 4th was Figulo Corporation. Founded in August 2011, Figulo 3D prints ceramic objects using a proprietary alumina and silica mixture specifically designed for 3D printing with an espresso cup costing around $35 to 3D print. The second acquisition on December 13th was Village Plastics Co which manufacturers 3D printing filaments used by the 3D Systems CubeX and Cube 3D printers. These filaments were previously only distributed online through Filaco. The third and most recent acquisition on December 18th was a definitive agreement to acquire Xerox Corporation’s Wilsonville, Oregon product design, engineering, and chemistry group and related assets for $32.5 million in cash.
Xerox and 3D Systems
Xerox has had a relationship with 3D Systems over the past 15 years, a collaboration which contributed significantly to the 3D Systems ProJet line of multi-jet 3D printers which use Xerox printheads. Xerox has also used printers from 3D Systems’ competitor Stratasys which lists three case studies on their website in which Xerox engineers realize tremendous cost savings by using Stratasys printers to engineer thermoforming molds and to prototype molded components and connectors.
According to the terms of the acquisition, 3D Systems will acquire a portion of Xerox’s solid ink engineering and development teams. First invented in 1986, Xerox’s solid ink was first brought to market in 1991 with more than 1 million solid ink machines in use today.
According to a recent article by Gartner, the deal also involves 3D Systems licensing hundreds of relevant patents. The article goes on to say “this acquisition represents the first time a 2D printer manufacturer has sold assets to a 3D printer manufacturer, rather than simply licensing them — though Xerox plans to continue with its 3D print technology R&D and its current 3D printer OEM partnerships.”
3D Systems Research and Development (R&D)
While R&D expenses were $23.2 million in 2012, 3D Systems has already spent $26.9 million in R&D in the first three quarters of 2013 with the CEO stating that the Company intends to increase its annual R&D expenditures by approximately 75% to 100% over the next few years alongside the recent Xerox acquisition. 3D Systems expects to add more than 100 Xerox engineers and contractors specializing in product design and materials science to its global R&D team. Given that 3D Systems had a total of 1,012 employees as of December 2012, this represents a significant number of added headcount. With 3 acquisitions completed so far in the last month of this year, 3D Systems’ seems to show no decrease in their appetite to grow through acquisition going into 2014.