3D Systems Acquires Freedom Of Creation

Today 3D Systems announced that it has acquired Freedom Of Creation. Over the past two years or so 3D Systems has been on a roll acquiring companies left, right and center. In fact, I sold them a couple of my own. šŸ˜‰

The frequency of these acquisitions have given rise to an “acquisition of the week” thing among commentators in the industry. I guess that will need to change a bit because this is the second acquisition in this week alone. If you remember, three days ago 3D Systems announced the acquisition of The3DStudio.com, a 3D and 2D content company. So who exactly is Freedom Of Creation and why did 3D Systems acquire them?

Freedom Of Creation is a product design company based in the Netherlands which specializes in creating and commercializing 3D printed design products. They have been working extensively with 3D printing technologies since 2000, the result of which has become part of their products or has been commercialized by other design labels. Their products have been exhibited all over the world and have also been selected to be permanent displayed at museums.

Here is a double mesh iPhone cover by FOC that “combines the soul of wool and the flexibility of leather”. The double layered texture acts as a box spring shock absorber protecting the iPhone, while the air channels keep it cool.

The thing about 3D printing is that is completely frees you from the limitations of traditional manufacturing. You can let your creativity run wild and design as you please without having to bother whether you will be able to manufacture it or not. If the model can hold itself, you will be able to print it in 3D. Just imagine manufacturing this electric light using traditional manufacturing methods.

You can 3D print anything. I mean anything.

So why did 3D Systems acquire Freedom Of Creation? In my post announcing the acquisition of The3DStudio.com I wrote:

“… watch us closely as we continue on our stated path of offering an increasing array of compelling 3D content to print solutions.”

Chuck Hull, the Founder of currently the CTO of 3D Systems, started an industry 25 years ago when he invented Stereolithography, a process of making solid objects by printing thin layers of ultraviolet curable material one on top of the other. The technology found its way into manufacturing and people began to use it to quickly to create prototypes of their 3D designs, giving rise to the term “Rapid Prototyping”.

A lot has happened to the technology since then. At 3D Systems we believe that the time has come to take the idea of 3D printing across to other aspects of life.

  • I’ve got a problem with the phrase “The thing about 3D printing is that is completely frees you from the limitations of traditional manufacturing”..

    Yes, it means you don’t have the traditional restrictions of design for manufacturability and you have much more freedom in terms of geometry that can be defined. But many people construe this as meaning you can design whatever you want..

    No.

    You still have a set of rules in which you have to play and build – but they’re not defined yet..

    About time those rules came out and everyone got to understand them, rather than, as is often the case, them being locked in the minds of service providers and users of the machines themselves..

    Al

    • Al, you hit the nail on the head. Right on the bloody head. But, understand this. If we are trying to make engineers out of eight to eighty year olds, then we are going the wrong way. We need to take the responsibility of make things printable, no matter how they design them.

  • I’m not putting that third image in my report.

  • d3print

    Lot of hype around the FOC…?

  • No way! 3D Systems acquired another company. That leaves about 2 personalized 3D printing companies for 3D Systems to buy…Then it will be complete democratization of personalized 3D Printing. Wait isn’t that called a monopoly?Ā 

    From what I am hearing they are removing all the equipment from the companies they are buying and creating locations of excellence and leaving the companies they bought out to dry with no manufacturing in-house.