Is 3-D printing the harbinger of the next industrial revolution? 3-D printing pioneer MakerBot certainly thinks so, and the company says it is poised to lead the charge into the future. The Brooklyn, N.Y.-based startup has been acquired by and will merge with fellow 3-D printing company Stratasys.
Under terms of the deal, MakerBot will be acquired for $403 million in Stratasys stock. MakerBot will operate as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys, which is based in Minneapolis. MakerBot co-founder and chief executive Bre Pettis will remain with the company.
"We have an aggressive model for growth," Pettis said in the announcement. "Partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals, and lead the next industrial revolution."
No longer solely the purview of makers, technological tinkerers, expensive laboratories and tech geeks, 3-D printing is quickly becoming the next big thing in technology, finding a significant foothold and making itself indispensible in industries ranging from medicine to tech accessories to farming.
Stratasys specializes in professional-grade 3-D printers, while MakerBot's products are more affordable for the general consumer. The merger should allow Stratasys to strengthen its position in the desktop 3-D printer market, while MakerBot will be able to utilize the larger company's global infrastructure and leadership position in 3-D and additive manufacturing.
Perhaps more importantly to the company's loyal user base, MakerBot will be able to maintain the "spirit of collaboration" it has built with its users and partners. Thingiverse.com, MakerBot's online portal for sharing user-generated digital-design content, is a significant draw for the company, with more than 500,000 unique visitors downloading a million files each month from the library of more than 90,000 3-D product files.
The merger is expected to pass regulatory approvals and be in place by the third quarter.
In this video from 2011, Pettis talks about innovation and open-source hardware: