Xaar has teamed up with Stratasys to develop 3D printing solutions based on Xaar’s High Speed Sintering, or HSS, technologies. The two will form a new company, Xaar 3D Ltd, with Xaar owning 85 percent to Stratasys’ 15 percent.
I spoke with Xaar’s CEO Doug Edwards, who made it clear that Xaar had actively sought a partner to help it bring the HSS technology to market, explaining: “We looked at various partners to bring this technology to market but we chose Stratasys because we think they are the best partner.” He confirmed that Xaar was not looking for any further partners, saying: “They bring a lot of knowledge of the 3D market. They have a strong go to market organisation, they have strong partnerships with contract manufacturing organisations and a huge installed base. They bring market access and sales channels.”
Of course, Stratasy also brings a cash injection though neither company will say how much Stratasys has invested with Edwards sayin only that it’s a “pretty significant” amount. Stratasys has an option to increase its holding to 30 percent over the next few years. This option is time limited but Xaar won’t say by how long. Equally, Xaar has first refusal if Stratasys decides to sell its holding. Xaar will provide three board members to the new company, including Edwards as chairman, with Stratasys nominating one director, though Edwards won’t confirm who yet.
This arrangement only relates to the high speed sintering and does not include Xaar’s other activities in 3D printing, which involve jetting binders and materials through its heads for additive manufacturing. Edwards characterised this to me as just being the standard business model of selling heads to other manufacturers developing 3D printing systems. But there’s a little more to it than that because Xaar is also heavily involved in developing the materials. Nonetheless, all of this activity will now be folded back into Xaar’s Cambridge base.
This means that the Nottingham offices will now concentrate entirely on high speed sintering, becoming the headquarters for Xaar 3D, which includes much of the materials R&D. Xaar 3D will also take over the team in Copenhagen, who are developing the HSS printer. Xaar will continue to provide financial, logistical and other services to the new Xaar 3D company, but will charge accordingly.
Naturally Xaar 3D will continue to use Xaar printheads though Edwards says that the company will be free to source heads elsewhere if necessary, noting: “I would hope their first port of call would be Xaar.”
It’s worth noting that Stratasys has also invested in other 3D ventures, including Massivit, Desktop Metal and LPW. Stratasys has also spent R&D funds developing alternative technologies, spinning off two of these – Step 3D and Vulcan Labs – into separate companies earlier this year.
Nonetheless, Edwards believes that Stratasys is committed to the Xaar arrangement as a long term business, noting: “This technology plays in the production space, it’s very high speed. I believe this is the right approach to volume manufacturing.”
Meanwhile, Xaar is continuing to develop the HSS printer which should be ready for beta testing by November this year with full commercial availability to follow next year.