Lots going on in the world of desktop 3D printers — that’s not a sentence I thought I’d be writing anytime soon. Days after MakerBot and Ultimaker announced merger plans, one of the companies’ most well-regarded competitors is making its own moves. Prague-based Prusa Research is acquiring Printed Solid Inc., a Delaware-based 3D-printer reseller.
Founded in 2011, Prusa shares some DNA with MakerBot and Ultimaker, as an outgrowth of the open source RepRap project. The company’s i3 system has become one of the leading FDM-based desktop 3D printers, owing to its low cost, small footprint and easy mod/repairability.
Print Solid, meanwhile, was founded in 2013 as a retailer for 3D-printing materials and parts. Three years later, the company made its own acquisition — Ranlaser — and has since begun making and selling its own printer safety enclosures.
Purchasing the reseller will give Prusa a channel for extending sales to the U.S. The manufacturer’s product sales are largely confined to enterprise, government and educational customers in the States. This move will further expand that footprint to more consumer sales. MakerBot and Ultimaker also cited expanded sales channels as a key driver in their decision to merge last week.
Print Solid notes in a blog post:
By Q4 of 2022 Printed Solid Inc. will acquire more warehousing, operational space and staffing dedicated to upholding and improving the already industry recognized quality and reputation of Prusa Research and offering USA based in-warranty and out-of-warranty repairs and services including parts fulfillment for Prusa Research. Helping to lessen the burden of international shipping and shortening response times for customer repairs and replacements.
The Print Solid brand will continue under its new parent, with David Randolph remaining as CEO.
“[Randolph’s] amazing team will help to improve the availability of Original Prusa 3D printers, parts, accessories and services beyond the ‘big pond,’” founder Josef Prusa said in a post. “We have already started with the enterprise, government and educational sectors. In the near future, we want to offer 3D printer maintenance services to all customers in the US. Just please, everyone, be patient. We finished the acquisition and the first round of training but it will take time to get everything up and running so the team will be able to sustain the same load as we can do in our HQ.”
It’s an uncharacteristically busy couple of weeks for the world of desktop 3D printing, which is now several years beyond its initial hype bubble. It’s fun to see some movement in the space, nonetheless.