3D Systems helps product designers and engineers bring their concepts to life. The company's stereolithography apparatuses (SLAs) and other machines create 3-D prototypes of everything from toys to airplane parts. Its SLAs rapidly produce 3-D objects designed in CAD/CAM software in a process called solid imaging, which uses a laser to sculpt plastic resin materials into physical models. Its ThermoJet solid object printer also fabricates plastic models using a modified ink jet printing system. Additionally, 3D Systems sells the raw plastic and metal consumable material used in its machinery. Customers have included General Electric, Hasbro, and Texas Instruments. The company does business in Europe, the US, and Asia.
Thanks in part to more sales of professional and production printers and income from a business operation created in 2009, 3Dproparts, 3D Systems' revenue rose more than 41% in 2010 over 2009, and net income was up more than 75%. Sales in all the company's operating territories were up as the global economy began recovering from a tough economic climate.
3D Systems uses a steady stream of acquisitions to supplement the development of its products and services and expand its customer base. In early 2013 it acquired Geomagic, which provides complementary 3-D design, sculpt, and scan software. It also brought COWEB that year, a Paris start-up that makes custom 3-D printed products, and Rapid Product Development Group, a quick-turn manufacturer that expands 3D Systems' on-demand parts manufacturing capabilities. In 2012 the company bought VIDAR Systems and Z Corporation from Danish large format scanner maker Contex for more than $135 million. 3D Systems saw the companies as a natural fit with its own technologies, with potential to accelerate its growth in the 3-D content-to-print market. The acquisitions also added complementary products to the company's portfolio and expand its distribution and market reach.
3D Systems also acquired direct manufacturing and product development services provider Paramount Industries that year to boost its ability to serve the aerospace and medical device industries. 3D Systems integrated Paramount's manufacturing facilities and advanced tooling and assembly operations with its on-demand direct manufacturing facilities.
Also in 2012, 3D Systems expanded its reach in the consumer market with the purchase of Amsterdam-based FreshFiber, a leading 3-D printed consumer electronics accessories brand sold online and in retail stores such as Apple, Fnac, and Gravis. 3D Systems plans to extend the company's customized products portfolio (including its flagship personalized iPhone cases) through its extensive manufacturing infrastructure and its Cubify.com platform. Cubify's Cube 3-D printer is a low-cost (under $1,500) wireless printer geared toward the home market. 3D Systems boosted that acquisition with another, buying Viztu Technologies, which offers customers a way to make interactive and printable 3-D models from pictures and video. Also that year the company bought San Francisco-based startup Bespoke -- adding scan, design, and print technology used to deliver custom fit prosthetics, orthotics, and orthopedic devices -- and South Korea's Rapidform, which offers complementary products and gives 3D Systems a foothold in South Korea and Japan.
In 2011 3D Systems bought National RP Support, an Iowa-based company that already provided customer support and parts for 3D Systems' equipment. Shortly afterward, it paid $15.9 million in cash for Quickparts, an Atlanta-based company that offers an e-commerce platform for custom manufactured parts. 3D Systems integrated its own parts fulfillment operations with Quickparts. It also acquired SYCODE, adding computer-aided design software used by designers for building digital prototypes, Alibre, a provider of affordable 3-D software, and Formero, a Melbourne-based custom parts and 3-D printer manufacturer that will help 3D Systems expand in Asia/Pacific.
Additionally, 3D Systems bought two Dutch companies that year, expanding its presence in the Benelux region. It acquired Kemo Modelmakerij, a provider of custom parts 3-D parts services which was renamed 3D Systems Benelux, and it purchased Freedom of Creation.
3D Systems primarily sells via a direct sales force, but it also uses distributors and resellers for select products and regions. The company targets manufacturers of automotive, aerospace, consumer, dental, electronics, defense, education, and medical products; independent prototyping service providers; and universities and government agencies performing research activities. International clients account for more than half of its business.