The 80´s brought to us the war of PC´s....IBM, the giant corporation had developed the PC using low-cost parts, with conservative sales projections. Microsoft instead, had understood the great potential of personal computer, and decided bet all on that vision. The rest is history. They negociated with IBM the rights of distribution that became Bill Gates and Paul Allen billionaires.
Today, thirty years later, we´re having a manufacturing revolution...a technological déjà vu with personal fabricators (PF´s) in a star role:
Stratasys and 3D Systems. Remember these names. They both are american, have the monopoly of 3d printing, and are ready to hit the world.
Chuck Hull´s 3D Systems is a company headquartered in South Caroline since 1986. They are fathers of 3D printing for having patented stereolitography (first layer to layer manufacturing), but also for developing SLS powder sintering and STL file extension for rapid manufacturing from CAD designs.
But besides that, 3D Systems have realized that this war will be fought in all flanks, and have bought Z Corporation in Q1 this year, a huge company that owns Zprinting technology, developed in MIT for color 3Dprinting based on Inkjet. But thats not all, early this month, they acquired Rapidform too, who owns a unique parametric software for reverse engineering.
From a financial view, DDD (as known in markets) stock price has grown a 177,8% in the last year, what is a feat considering the shy move of markets in crisis.
In the other hand we have Scott Crump´s Stratasys. A company founded in 1989, and settled in Minessota. They own Fused Deposition Modeling(FDM) , the best-selling technology for prototyping, and actually the most extended in personal fabrication field because of its low cost and zero emissions. But besides that, Stratasys have concreted a lot of acquisitions and joint ventures for ensure a wider presence: Fortus, Dimension, HP, Solidscape (owner of Drop on Demand (DoD) technology), and icing the cake: they merged last april with the israeli company Objet (owner of Polyjet technology), one of the bigger manufacturers of 3D printers.
Stratasys stocks (listed in Nasdaq as SSYS) have grown a 119,75% in last year, and all indicates it will go on like that. I´m not an expert in stock markets, but it is a fact that average growth of both companies overcomes major indexes growth.
That is the actual panorama. And even when open manufacturing promises putting in people hands a big slice of business share of these new Goliats, there's a long way to walk before it happens.