Seeing as I was face to face with a number of Objet personnel last week, I took the opportunity to probe a little further into the Stratasys / Objet merger. I also asked a number of Objet personnel if they knew what the big announcement coming from Stratasys was today — they were all tight-lipped but knew exactly what it was. The tagline “Something’s Coming” on 8th May has been on the company website for more than a week, together with a clock counting down the days, hours, minutes and seconds.
Well, the time is now upon us, and Stratasys, as one of the companies with the greatest longevity as a vendor of 3D printing platforms for prototyping and for manufacturing applications is extending its reach — downwards . The company is adding a pro-sumer platform to its 3D printer portfolio — Mojo was announced a few minutes ago. Positioned as a professional machine — under $10,000 — this machine goes someway to close the gap I was talking about in my previous post about Makerbot.
I have it on good authority that the R&D for Mojo has been extensive and the testing thorough over the last 3-4 years and the production line is all but ready to go . If this is right, then clearly Stratasys has been waiting for the right time to bring this to market and believes the time is now.
I find it interesting that the company is, seemingly consciously, avoiding the consumer market — I do wonder if this will last and if they will be tempted.
Anyway, here's the pertinent points about Mojo, lifted from the press release for your information, and including a quote from Todd Grimm, a man I personally trust and respect:
"New Modeling Technology Ensures Reliability
To produce a model, Mojo employs an innovative variation on traditional FDM material extrusion. The ABS material spool and the print head are integrated to a single package, called the QuickPack print engine. To ensure optimal reliability, a fresh print head is part of each material change. Material loading is similar to snapping in an inkjet cartridge on a paper printer.
Industry's Easiest Operation in a Compact 3D Printer
A desktop 3D printer, Mojo measures only 25 inches wide and 21 inches deep. It measures 18 inches in height (64 x 53 x 46 cm). As with a paper printer, no training is needed to get it set up and running, and settings are selected at the host computer, not the printer itself. Modeling operations are easy with Mojo's preprocessing software, Print Wizard, which helps users efficiently manage workflow. Support material removal is also a simple process with the included WaveWash55. It is a self-contained, hands-free cleaning system, and it requires no plumbing.
Fine Feature Detail
Delivering fine feature detail, Mojo has a layer resolution previously available only in the Dimension Elite and the Fortus Production 3D Printer line.
Professional Third-Party Evaluation
After evaluating an early beta-test unit, Todd Grimm, president of T. A. Grimm & Associates, noted: "Stratasys, who arguably started the revolution in 3D printing, is poised to shake up the market again with a complete professional system that breaks the $10,000 mark. With its new [3D printer], Stratasys is in a league of its own. It's counter-intuitive to get a low-price product with high quality like this.""
It has also occurred to me that as Stratasys broadens its spectrum of machines and Objet heads towards manufacturing capabilities, the breadth and depth of the IP within the two companies is unique.
When I interviewed Elan Jaglom, Objet’s Chairman, his passion and loyalty was clearly evident. I homed in on his take of the merger, pointing to the fact that all of the public discourse from both sides since the announcement referred to a symbiotic union of the two companies — at no point was there ever any talk of an acquisition. Elan told me that was exactly right, this is a coming together of two strong companies with complementary technologies and demonstrable growth patterns that are only set to continue. Both he & Scott Crump of Stratasys have shaped the merger, it seems, with a shared vision. In fact, one of his most striking quotes was thus: “this is a merger of growth”.
I don’t disagree; some integration will need to take place on a practical level, and that could be a little bumpy, but with similar cultures and a positive approach I think this merger is a great thing for 3D printing per se and for the markets that will use the 3D printers they produce — right across the spectrum.
Indeed, it is already starting to show — the Mojo announcement has been timed to closely follow Objet’s technology demonstration on Friday — using clever, coordinated marketing to get the market’s attention.