3D Systems announced the acquisition of Bits From Bytes, a leading U.K. maker of affordable 3D printers and kits located in Bristol. Noted Abe Reichental, President and CEO of 3D Systems, this acquisition represents a major step towards democratizing access to 3D printers; a stated strategic direction and an ongoing commitment.
In the view of 3D Systems, Bits From Bytes is a profitable, well run entrepreneurial start-up with a seriously committed marketplace following. All of Bits From Bytes outstanding shares were acquired in a primarily cash transaction with a portion paid in shares.
3D systems plans to keep the entire Bits From Bytes team intact and continue to operate it under the capable leadership of Ian Adkins, co-founder and managing director, from its current Bristol location.
Bits From Bytes makes and sells 3D printers and kits that print real plastic parts from a variety of materials in multiple colors for educational, hobbyist and professional applications. Adkins and team developed a family of affordable Plastic Jet Printing kits and printers ranging in price from $1,300-$3,900 based on the RepRap project that originated at the University of Bath to create open source FDM clones.
Print materials include ABS, PLA, Polypropylene and Polyethylene in multiple colors. According to the 2010 Wohlers report, in its first full year of commercial activity, Bits From Bytes kits and printers accounted for 17% of all 3D printer sales worldwide, ranking second in total shipments.
3D Systems objective is to “democratize access to 3D printing solutions.” Bits From Bytes printers and kits are affordable, requiring very low capital outlay and print materials are priced to allow cost-effective printing.
All of Bits From Bytes’ products feature interactive designs that let you see the process rather than lock it away in a sealed environment. Bits From Bytes also provides free firmware upgrades as they are developed. The kits and printers are upgradeable and 3D Systems plans to add extrusion print heads and other user functions to support the rapidly growing installed base. All of Bits from Bytes products are desktop compatible, suitable for office use without sacrificing the print performance or productivity.
Bits From Bytes products are based on proven, simple desktop technology that delivers exceptional value. In keeping with its business model, Bits From Bytes is committed to delivering kits and printers that are affordable to purchase and operate in the sense that the total cost of ownership is very attractive. The RapMan Kit is priced from $1,300 and the fully assembled BFB3000 Printer is priced from $3,900 and can be equipped with up to 3 print heads.
Bits From Bytes is a spin out of the RepRap project that originated at the University of Bath in England to create affordable open source FDM clones. As such, Bits From Bytes kits and printers print real plastic parts from extruded deposition materials including ABS, PLA, Polypropylene and Polyethylene in multiple colors.
From a 3D Systems perspective, Plastic Jet Printing is a complementary, proven, simple, clean, compact and quiet print engine technology that is perfect for the office, home, or classroom. It features an open design that can operate in an office environment and that is easy to use and maintain. With up to three print heads, material changeovers are fast and easy and the installation is quick. Bits From Bytes printers are designed and engineered to be simple, accurate, and robust and are equipped with compact precision print heads that feature print speed and accuracy.
One of 3D Systems three stated strategic initiatives is to accelerate 3D printer penetration through new products and channel expansion. In line with that objective the combination of new products and expanded channel, the company has doubled 3D Printer revenue in the first half of 2010.
“We believe that the acquisition of Bits From Bytes adds an important building block to this initiative by providing proven, simple PJP technology at price points below $5,000. The availability of PJP products in our portfolio is sure to democratize access through affordable ownership, and accelerate marketplace adoption due to its versatile utility and performance. We believe that Bits From Bytes products will enable us to significantly expand our reseller channels as a direct result of our overall portfolio attractiveness, which in turn will drive future revenue growth,” said Cathy Lewis, vice president of global marketing, 3D Systems.
3D Systems will be addressing more educational opportunities, the growth of the do-it-yourself makers movement, and will be providing powerful affordable creativity tools to new entrepreneurs and small businesses alike.