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Will Josef Prusa Release a Delta Printer under His Own Brand?

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Prusa Research with Josef Prusa in charge bought 80% of shares of Czech manufacturer Trilab, as well as got full control over the company. Trilab is known for its delta 3D printers. Does this merging mean that there will be a delta-kinematics 3D printer under the Original Prusa brand?

If you are aware of Betteridge’s law of headlines, then you already know the answer: no, there will not be a delta printer any time soon and his team doesn’t even work on one, or at least not yet. Nevertheless, the merger is worth the attention, since it shows that Josef can be an aggressive market player. 

Let’s get one thing straight: not only did Prusa manage to stay afloat without going bankrupt or disappearing but also started an active expansion in the environment of the current additive manufacturing market. This is worth respecting. Josef’s last name is mainly associated with the open-source 3D printers kinematics, although recently the company released the Prusa XL printer with the CoreXY kinematics. Original Prusa solutions were copied by many and the market is full of affordable offerings. Josef Prusa continues to do his job: selling relatively expensive devices and not conceding its market position.

Let’s compare Prusa with two other legendary brands that were involved with the early days of the RepRap project— MakerBot and Printrbot,founded by Bre Pettis and Brook Drumm respectively. These companies had a harder time competing with Chinese solutions. Makerbot had to stop using an open design and open-source software solutions, close their plant in Brooklyn and start manufacturing in Asia. After that they became owned by Stratasys and left the hobbyists market, now mostly focusing on the professional FDM solution. Pettis himself left the company and started doing other things. Printrbot had it even worse: the company was closed due to falling sales in 2018 .

But Prusa doesn’t have any problems. Their original printers with no enclosures are still popular and Josef isn’t looking to merge with larger companies like Makerbot did, but he’s actually growing his own ‘empire’. His own production is sold under the Original Prusa brand but the name is not the only reason for its popularity: Prusa constantly works on improving the equipment and making its own ecosystem. Cheap clones can’t be a powerful competition if Prusa offers a premium version with high-quality parts, multi-material printing system and high-quality Prusament materials. There is also its own slicing solution called PrusaSlicer that is a version of the Slic3r program. 

But if you want to survive long-term, you should do more: and Josef Prusa, being an ambitious entrepreneur, doesn’t spend all of his money on fun things, he pours it back into his business. And that’s where the story with Trilab comes into play: it’s not Prusa’s first merging and likely not the last. 

Prusa Research bought another 3D printer manufacturer back in 2018. It was the Futur3D company that is focused on SLA devices. Their solutions and developments became the base for a new resin 3D printer Original Prusa SL1. The machines were popular and Prusa managed to keep a good pace: once the shift from the RGB to monochrome curing screens became apparent, they upgraded the device that was now called Original Prusa SL1 Speed. Moreover, they offered an upgrade for the owners of the original version and offered a modernized wash and cure stations CW1S (the predecessor was called CW1), and recently they launched their own line of 3D printing resins.

And now Trilab became a part of Prusa Research. It’s also a Czech company and it has its own brand recognition: not only among hobbyists. Since 2016, they’ve been developing professional additive manufacturing solutions. For example, in the summer 2021 they released a new line of delta 3D printers named AzteQ with the build volume of Ø400 x 600 mm, thermostatic chambers, high-temp extruders and full integration of the Palette system for 4-to-8 filament splicing. Their distribution strategy is similar to the expansion strategy of DeltaWASP, the manufacturer of such well-known delta 3D printers such as Delta WASP 2040 Clay. And this is the answer why we shouldn’t expect delta printers from Original Prusa in the near future.

The reason is the different markets. Original Prusa mainly targets enthusiasts, while the Trilab solutions are focused on the professional segment. Josef Prusa doesn’t want to cause confusion among the buyers and there’s no reason to restructure an already successful firm.

“Trilab manufactures high-end 3D printers for the commercial segment, their brand is quite well known. But our devices are focused on hobbyist and enthusiast makers, and they also feature an open-source design which can cause problems in the commercial and industrial markets. So we will perfectly complement each other. We have a perfect B2C system without the intermediaries, we can sell 3D printers and the materials right from our Prague headquarters. Trilab has business partners not only in the EU but in Japan, Israel, Canada and Australia. Their business experience is different from ours”, explained Josef Prusa.

“In the beginning of 2021 we found ourselves in the need for a strategic partner to help us with further development and extending the market share. After months of negotiations we suddenly realized that the best thing we could do is to partner with another Czech company — Prusa Research, commented Michal Boháč, the CEO of Trilab.

So in the end, Prusa Research won’t interfere with Trilab’s workflow and brand but the companies will help each other and exchange technologies. Original Prusa certainly has plans for the commercial segment as it seems looking at their 3D printing farm shown at the Dubai Expo 2020.

The price of the Trilab acquisition is not mentioned but the companies confirmed the merger at the Formnext 2021 exhibition in Frankfurt am Main. Trilab’s staff is to remain the same including the company founders: Vojtěch Tambor and Michal Boháč. But the company will be called ‘Trilab — A Prusa Research Company’ from now on.

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