So back in May, ZCorp introduced a 3D printer — the Zbuilder Ultra. Actually, they called it a 'rapid prototyping machine'! I usually jump all over press releases such as that, but in this case I held back. Even on the first read a couple of things struck me as odd — the release talked about the DLP technology employed by the machine, a complete deviation from its traditional technology base for its ZPrinting range of 3D printers, but there was not one single mention of "new", "revolutionary" or even "improved" technology. Now that is beyond odd for an announcement like this. The second thing that occurred to me was how similar the image of the machine was to the Envisiontec 3D printers. It seems I was not the only one to notice that!
Reading the press release more closely, it was extremely carefully worded throughout and prompted me to do a little digging and wait and see what emerged. Sure enough, an anonymous tip declared that ZCorp and Envisiontec have come to an agreement and Envisiontec is the manufacturer.
I have no idea why all the cloak and dagger theatrics are deemed necessary. It is not a huge surprise that machine manufacturers are looking to join forces at some level following the Stratasys / HP announcement. Moreover, these two are a good match. Envisiontec's technology is extremely competitive on accuracy and speed and has made significant in roads into the jewellery sector as a result. ZCorp offers full colour options and has a good market profile. By initiating a collaborative agreement, both companies are strengthening their position ahead of a shifting market dynamic.
Personally I think that their positions would be even stronger if they were just upfront about the whole thing!