More than 100 Xerox engineers and contractors will help 3D Systems increase its research and development spending by 75 to 100 percent over the next few years after the 27-year-old 3D printing company bought a portion of Xerox’s Wilsonville, Oregon-based group for $32.5 million. The two companies announced today that the cash transaction will be complete by the end of the year.
The Wilsonville group is home to Xerox’s product design, engineering and chemistry teams. The employees acquired by 3D Systems will focus on product design and material science. They come packaged with their associated labs and select patents. Xerox also plans to continue its own research into 3D printing.
Xerox and 3D Systems have been partners for 15 years, during which they collaborated on products like 3D System’s line of ProJet professional 3D printers. Like 2D printers, 3D printers require “inks,” though they may come in liquid, powder or spooled forms, plus specialized print heads — both areas where 107-year-old Xerox can lend 3D Systems a great deal of expertise.
3D Systems is most famous for sterolithography, a style of 3D printing where a pool of liquid resin is cured by a UV light layer by layer, creating a 3D object. Since its founder Chuck Hull designed and patented the first stereolithography printer in the 1980s, 3D Systems has also expanded into selective laser sintering (a laser seals together powdered particles) and fused deposition modeling (melted plastic is extruded layer by layer). It has also expanded into producing consumer-level 3D printers.
3D Systems has been very aggressive in its acquisitions over the last few years, likely to compete with professional 3D printer rival Stratasys and the growing tide of affordable personal printers.
“The stronger our marketplace leadership, the more powerful our economic model becomes,” 3D Systems President and CEO Avi Reichental said in a release. “Simply put, a solidified position translates directly to higher revenue, higher profitability and greater earnings power over time and we are willing to sacrifice short term earnings to get there faster.”