Stratasys, one of the largest 3D printer vendors, has acquired Brooklyn, NY based 3D print vendor MakerBot. This acquisition is a defining moment for the 3D printing industry, not only because it brings together two system vendors, but also because of the value of MakerBot’s Thingiverse.com online community.
MakerBot was founded in 2009 and has had a large impact on the desktop 3D printing market with over 22,000 units sold. MakerBot ‘s most popular model, the Replicator 2, due to its affordable cost and reasonable quality levels, has helped to make 3D printing more accessible to the general public. MakerBot has helped to spread awareness of 3D printing in several interesting ways within the last year:
- In February, MakerBot partnered with Nokia to provide free CAD files that allowed users to customize their own phone case for Nokia’s newly released Lumina 820 or 520
- They have had booths at major music festivals and are expected to set up a 3D printing booth at this year’s Comic-Con in July
- Makerbot has an active brick & mortar store front in New York City that allows the general public to participate in workshops and explore 3D printing
The most important part of the acquisition maybe MakerBot’s Thingiverse.com, an online community in the vein of the Etsy (an online site in where users can make and share craft wares), which allows users to download, design, and purchase 3D printed objects and CAD files. Thingiverse represents the largest community of file makers and creators of 3D objects on the internet. Through the use of Thingiverse, Stratasys now can extend their reach further and drive further adoption of 3D printing while promoting system usage. Along with Thingiverse, Stratasys will now have market shares in MakerWare software, MakerCare service, MakerBot Filament, the MakerBot Retail Store, MakerBot Digitizer desktop 3D scanner, and the MakerBot 3D Photo Booth.
MakerBot will operate as a subsidiary of Stratasys. MakerBot CEO and founder, Brie Pettis, will stay in charge of the company. The benefits of this acquisition are twofold. MakerBot’s product line helps to fill a hole on the consumer level that Stratasys needs to fill, and Stratasys provides the backing of a large conglomerate for MaketBot to grow. Add to this the value of the Thingiverse community, and it is clear that this acquisition has strong potential for both players.
For a more in depth look on 3D printing we encourage you to read our analysis piece 3D Printing: Technologies, Markets, and Opportunities found in our document store.