Stratasys, MakerBot Merge to Build 3D Printing Powerhouse

The merger between two leading players in 3D printing is expected to drive faster adoption of the technology across multiple industry sectors.

Joining forces in a market that is gaining ground, Stratasys, a specialist in 3D printing and additive manufacturing, and MakerBot, a specialist in desktop 3D printing, announced a definitive merger agreement.

The deal is expected to give Stratasys access to affordable desktop 3D printer technology to help drive growth, while MakerBot will take advantage of Stratasys' global reach and fused deposition modeling (FDM) process technology, helping to drive adoption of 3D printing. The companies estimate that between 35,000 to 40,000 desktop 3D printers were sold in 2012, with that number expected to double in 2013.

Under the agreement, privately-held MakerBot will merge with a subsidiary of Stratasys in a stock-for-stock transaction, helping to extend Stratasys' lineup. The merger is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2013.

MakerBot, founded in 2009, helped develop the desktop 3D printing market and has sold more than 22,000 3D printers since its launch. Delivering affordable 3D printers to small and midsized businesses (SMBs), MakerBot's Replicator 3D desktop printers are priced between $2,000 and $2,800. In June, the manufacturer moved to a new 55,000-square-foot facility in Brooklyn, N.Y.

In a 2012 report, Deloitte forecast that 3D printers "will likely become a viable segment in several markets, including the $22 billion global power tools market and the industrial manufacturing market, with growth rates of greater than 100 percent versus 2011." The report also said 3D printers will likely find homes in several niche areas such as the do-it-yourself home-hobbyist market and after-market support channels such as small appliance and auto repair, with significant interest in the biomedical sector.

Once the transaction is completed, MakerBot will operate as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys in a move to maintain its brand identity and collaboration with existing users and partners, including Autodesk, Adafruit, Nokia, OUYA, MoMA and Amazon.

MakerBot will continue to provide products, services and 3D printing content through, its online content portal for the sharing of user-generated digital design content. Bre Pettis, CEO and co-founder of MakerBot, will continue to lead the company.

Most of MakerBot's sales are through direct-to-consumer channels via the company's Website. It also sells through distributors outside the U.S. and has a 3D printing retail store, which also serves as a demonstration site.

"The last couple of years have been incredibly inspiring and exciting for us," Pettis 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."

Under the terms of the agreement, Stratasys said it will initially issue approximately 4.76 million shares in exchange for 100 percent of the outstanding capital stock of MakerBot. The value of the merger is pegged at $403 million based on Stratasys' closing stock price of $84.60 as of June 19.