How The Sugar Lab Became 3D Systems Corporation's Food Business

How 3D Systems can quickly integrate an acquisition and turn it into a full business segment.

Jun 16, 2014 at 2:03PM

Last September, 3D Systems (NYSE:DDD) acquired The Sugar Lab, a start-up company dedicated to 3-D printing customized sugar confections. At the Inside 3D Printing Conference in New York City, 3-D printing specialist Steve Heller caught up with Liz von Hasseln, co-founder of The Sugar Lab and now creative director of food products at 3D Systems.

In the following video, Steve asks Liz how she went from The Sugar Lab to heading up 3D Systems' entire food business. Because 3D Systems offers the most diverse 3-D printing technology portfolio in the industry, the company is able to quickly integrate an entirely new businesses into its ecosystem.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Steve Heller: Hey Fools, Steve Heller here. I'm joined with a very special guest, Liz von Hasseln of 3D Systems, head of The Sugar Lab. Sugar 3-D printing is an up and coming field. I was going to ask some questions today, and thank you for your time, we really appreciate it. Congratulations on joining 3D Systems, I think that's great.

Liz von Hasseln: Thank you very much, I'm thrilled. I appreciate it.

Heller: Great. I want to know about the integration process. How did you go from a mom-and-pop shop into the 3D Systems ecosystem and using their technology, if you can give some color on that?

von Hasseln: Absolutely, good question. We were actually using their technology the whole way through, so it was a very natural fit. What made us really comfortable about the integration is that we became more and more aware that our visions for 3-D printing really lined up exceedingly well.

3D Systems is really interested in democratizing 3-D printing, and that's something that Kyle -- my husband and I; we co-founded The Sugar Lab -- we feel really strongly about that too. We see 3-D printing sugar as a way for more folks to become involved in the technology, which we think is really cool, in a way that maybe they wouldn't have before. Food is a real common denominator, and it brings more people into the conversation.

Once we found out that we felt so similarly about 3-D printing -- we were both passionate about the same things, and the same directions that we wanted this new segment of 3-D printing to go -- then it really became a complete win/win. We're thrilled to be a part of 3D Systems.

Heller: Was it a tough development process to migrate it over to more of a streamlined product from -- probably what you had was more of a hacked solution?

von Hasseln: Originally, you're right, we were retrofitting 3D Systems' existing technology to work well with sugar. But developing a consumer product that was able to let other people 3-D print in sugar was always something that we really wanted to do.

Working with 3D Systems allowed us to develop this machine, the ChefJet, as you mentioned, from the ground up to be compatible with food, and kitchen certified, and all the things that are important for it today.

Heller: How long did that take, that whole process?

von Hasseln: It won't be released until the second half of this year, so it's really ongoing but we debuted it at CES in January. That was really only a few months after we joined the company, so the time scale has been very quick.

Heller: That's very interesting. 3D Systems, one of their abilities is to take a product and be able to integrate it into their portfolio very quickly.

von Hasseln: Absolutely, yes.

Steve Heller owns shares of 3D Systems. The Motley Fool recommends 3D Systems. The Motley Fool owns shares of 3D Systems. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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