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Yesterday, 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD ) announced that it acquired Figulo Corporation, the industry's only production- and consumer-grade 3D printing ceramics company, for an undisclosed sum. Figulo brings a wealth of industry knowledge and proprietary ceramic materials that will integrate well with 3D Systems' existing printer offerings, as well as its 3-D printing service portals across consumer and industrial lines.
Like many 3-D printing service providers, Figulo works off a cloud-based model; customers upload their 3-D models, which Figulo then 3-D prints, fires in a kiln, and glazes, before shipping the finished product back to the customer. What makes Figulo unique is that it can handle both consumer-oriented requests and more demanding requests from industrial-type customers.
The end result is that Figulo has experience across the entire 3-D printing ceramic goods segment, which will allow 3D Systems to tap into this knowledge base and apply it across its own supply chain. In other words, Figulo's expertise will likely benefit nearly every aspect of 3D Systems' existing ceramics facing business, from its service centers to its printers and even its material offerings.
The other notable aspect of this deal is the propriety ceramic-based material that comes along with Figulo. Optimized for powder-based 3-D printing, the ceramic mixture is primarily made of alumina and silica, and will give 3D Systems an opportunity to differentiate its offerings from the competition. If all goes as planned, the combination of Figulo's expertise and materials could help establish 3D Systems as a leader in the space.
On the surface, a ceramics-based 3-D printing company doesn't sound that exciting until you realize the wealth of knowledge and potential synergies that come along with it. Because 3D Systems takes a multifaceted approach to its service centers and 3D printers, Figulo's wide-ranging expertise could end up complementing nearly every aspect of 3D System's existing ceramics business.
At the end of the day, Figulo was likely more a talent acquisition aimed at improving 3D Systems' existing businesses and supply chain than anything else. Investors should be encouraged that 3D Systems continues to demonstrate its desire to improve its position in practically every segment it operates in.
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