3D Printing

Bitter Sweet — 3D Systems Acquires The Sugar Lab

3D Systems has acquired 3D printing confectionary start-up The Sugar Lab. Based in LA, California this micro-design firm was founded by husband and wife team Kyle and Liz von Hasseln, and as Mike reported back in May, they are architects using their design talents to produce customized 3D printed confections. It turns out that the 3D printing technology platform they were using at the Sugar Lab was 3D Systems’ Color Jet Printing (CJP), which had been adapted to print on a sugar bed using different flavoured edible binders that meet all food safety requirements. I sense that this played no small part in the eventual acquisition. I understand 3D Systems’ strategy to cover every angle in the 3D printing sector, I can even applaud it from a business perspective, and it’s no secret that CEO, Avi, has a sweet tooth and a passion for chocolate 3D printing, which is on his personal and corporate agenda. See his penultimate answer in his Executive Interview with me at the end of last year. And yet I find this acquisition makes me rather sad — a small start-up with a nice USP, personal identity and plenty of potential is being swallowed up by the 3D printing monolith.

For better or worse, business is business I guess.

Anyway, 3D Systems reports that it plans to integrate The Sugar Lab 3D printing technique into its professional and consumer content-to-print platforms with a variety of production-quality applications as well as the offering the ability to 3D print indulgences at home. This, if done well and cost-effectively, could easily be a killer app for the tech. Sugar is big-business, even in these health-conscious times, we all like a treat.

Of the acquisition, Sugar Lab cofounder Liz von Hasseln says: “We see our technology quickly evolving into a variety of flavors and foods, powered by real food printers for professionals and consumers alike and we could not think of a more qualified partner than 3D Systems to help make that a reality.”

And Mr Reichental went on the record to express his now broader vision for 3D printing food: “I believe there is a social covenant for indulgence that begins with desserts and The Sugar Lab will accelerate our ability to bring edible 3D printables to the masses while empowering chefs, restaurateurs and confectioners with never before explored digital creation tools for food. We are absolutely thrilled to partner with two kindred spirits; Liz and Kyle von Hasseln to quickly re-purpose our core 3D Systems print technology and jointly create delicious, custom confections.”