By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn 3D printer manufacturer MakerBot, headquartered in MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn, has signed a $403 million merger agreement with a subsidiary of Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS), a company specializing in professional-grade 3D printing and manufacturing. The companies announced the merger on Wednesday.
MakerBot, founded in 2009, helped develop the booming desktop 3D printing market and has built the largest installed base of 3D printers in the category. The MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer has been named Popular Mechanics’ “Overall Winner” for best 3D printer.
In the last nine months the company sold 11,000 MakerBot Replicator2 printers. Replicator2, about the size of a microwave oven, sells for $2,200 and can be used to produce almost any 3D object, from art works to belt buckles, iPhone cases, robot parts, tools or toys. (MakerBot deleted a collection of blueprints for gun components from its database after an unrelated mass shooting.)
MakerBot says that the company’s mission remains the same and they will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary within Stratasys, once the transaction is complete.
Bre Pettis, CEO and co-founder of MakerBot, will continue to lead the company. “The last couple of years have been incredibly inspiring and exciting for us,” he said in a statement. “We have an aggressive model for growth, and partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring 3D technology to more people. I am excited about the opportunities this combination will bring to our current and future customers.”
“It will be business as usual after the merger,” MakerBot spokesperson Jenifer Howard told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday. “There will be no changes; we’re staying in Brooklyn, and management and employees are staying the same. The only difference is we’re adding resources to continue the 3D manufacturing business revolution in Brooklyn, and we’re excited about getting stronger and bigger.”
MakerBot’s 3D printers have an enthusiastic following among small manufacturers, engineers, designers, “makers” and build-it-yourself types. Earlier this month, crowds gathered at the MakerBot tent at the World Science Festival at MetroTech and watched as several Replicator2 3D printers molded small plastic objects and toys.
“Can I keep this?” multiple children asked Michael Curry, MakerBot’s “3D Evangelist.” Curry told the Brooklyn Eagle that sales of the hot devices “are doing well.”
Besides manufacturing 3D printers, MakerBot maintains a “3D Ecosystem” which includes Thingiverse.com, the largest collection of downloadable digital designs for making physical objects, as well as various software, supplies of the raw materials used to make objects, a retail store and more.
The companies say the merger is a stock-for-stock transaction.
The combination of the two companies, both considered industry leaders, is expected to drive faster adoption of 3D printing for multiple applications and industries, as desktop 3D printers are rapidly becoming a mainstream tool.
MakerBot reports that during the first quarter of 2013, the company generated $11.5 million in total revenue, compared to $15.7 million for all of 2012.
The merger is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2013 and is subject to regulatory approvals.