3D Systems Corp., which makes three-dimensional printers and custom-designed parts, has made another medical-related acquisition, buying Bespoke Innovations Inc., a San Francisco company that designs custom prosthetics using rapid manufacturing.
Rock Hill, S.C.-based 3D Systems announced the deal May 24. Terms were not disclosed.
A personalized prosthetic leg for an amputee netted Bespoke a 2011 International Design Excellence Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America. One of the Fairings-brand custom leg coverings is made after scanning the shape of an amputee's remaining leg. Bespoke also makes orthotics and orthopedic devices.
Officials of 3D Systems, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, said they plan to integrate Bespoke into 3D's growing health-care business. In April, 3D Systems bought Paramount Industries Inc., a Langhorne, Pa.-based company that does rapid product design and development for medical and aerospace markets.
3D Systems leaders said they expect to make additional investments in research and development before they can commercialize new Bespoke products. Bespoke Innovations was founded in 2010 by industrial designer Scott Summit and Dr. Kenneth Trauner, who is an orthopedic surgeon and mechanical engineer.
The company's tagline — “Because every body is different” — highlights the ability of 3D printing to make one-off, personalized parts.
Industry consultant Terry Wohlers said medical is a promising market for additive manufacturing. “The challenge is transitioning from ideas to commercialization, to get sufficient funding. And 3D Systems might be able to provide a boost to move the company ahead much more quickly,” he said.
Already, the technology is used to make parts for about half of the implanted hip replacements done each year, he said.
Other medical applications include spinal implants and customized cranial plates for the head and face.
Prosthetics are an ideal use for the technology, because additive manufacturing custom-makes them to be lighter, better fitting and more natural looking, said Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo.
In a press release announcing the deal, 3D Systems officials said they do not expect this acquisition to be material to the firm's revenues for the rest of 2012. 3D Systems projects sales of $330 million to $360 million this year.
“Bespoke products can deliver extraordinary individualization and style to an underserved audience through its extraordinary designs and proprietary scan-to-print technology,” said 3D Systems President and CEO Abe Reichental.
Summit, a co-founder of Bespoke, said: “This is an exciting and timely development that fuses together essential Bespoke and 3D Systems technologies to deliver an expanded range of life-enhancing, cost-effective treatments for the benefit of patients and providers alike, within existing insurance reimbursement codes.”