"With the acquisition of Bits From Bytes, 3D Systems takes the next major step towards democratizing access to 3D printing—a stated strategic direction and ongoing commitment," said Abe Reichental, President and CEO, 3D Systems.
Bits From Bytes, based in Bristol, UK, makes and markets open-source kits and printers that print plastics parts using a variety of polymers. The kit costs $1300 and the BFB 3000 3D Printer starts at $3900. 3D Systems (Rock Hill, SC), which just announced its acquisition of Bits From Bytes, is one of the major suppliers of rapid prototyping/manufacturing systems, including 3D printers, 3D Production Centers, and 3D parts services.
3D Systems said it plans to retain the entire BFB management team, which is led by Ian Adkins, and to continue BFB's operations at its Bristol UK location. Adkins said that the market presence and financial flexibility of 3D Systems will let BFB products reach new audiences, address new applications, and open new channels and geographies to BFB's open source access and functionality.
Bits From Bytes printers can create real plastic parts from materials such as ABS, PLA, PP, and PE in multiple colors. The BFB 3000 Printer can print parts from up to three different materials. According to the 2010 Wohlers Report, BFB kits and printers accounted for 17% of all 3D printers and kits sales worldwide. BFB's technology is based on the RepRap project that was developed at the University of Bath (Bath, UK) for the purposes of creating open-source FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) clones.