3-D printer maker Stratasys to acquire desktop rival MakerBot

MakerBot will operate as a separate subsidiary with its own brand and management

3-D printer company Stratasys is acquiring desktop 3-D printer maker MakerBot for over US$400 million in an all-stock deal, to shore up its consumer presence.

Privately-held MakerBot has sold more than 22,000 3-D printers since it was founded in 2009, and its printers are increasingly used by a class of "prosumers" that includes individuals using the devices for professional purposes as well as for personal applications, Stratasys said in a statement Wednesday.

MakerBot has also set up a portal Thingiverse.com for the sharing of user-generated digital design content to promote system usage. The portal has more than 90,000 3-D product files available for sharing, and generates more than 500,000 unique visitors and 1 million downloads each month, Stratasys said.

In the transaction, Stratasys will initially issue about 4.76 million shares in exchange for 100 percent of the outstanding capital stock of MakerBot in Brooklyn, New York. The proposed merger has an initial value of $403 million based on Stratasys' closing stock price of $84.60 as of Wednesday. MakerBot shareholders are also entitled to performance-based payouts of more shares or cash.

The MakerBot business will operate as a separate subsidiary, with its existing brand and management. Bre Pettis, CEO and co-founder of MakerBot, will continue to head the operation.

The companies have estimated that between 35,000 to 40,000 desktop 3-D printers were sold in 2012, which is expected to double this year, as prosumers increasingly adopt desktop 3-D printers for a broad range of applications. MakerBot generated $11.5 million in total revenue in the first quarter of 2013 compared to $15.7 million for all of 2012.

Stratasys, with dual headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Rehovot, Israel, was formed in 2012 by the merger of 3-D printing companies Stratasys and Objet. It manufacture 3-D printers and materials for prototyping and production. MakerBot recently opened a new manufacturing facility in Brooklyn.

3-D printing, which has a variety of applications, recently came to the attention of some U.S. legislators who want to regulate the use of the devices to print firearms. An organization Defense Distributed fired in early May a handgun made with 3-D printing technology, and said it would distribute its drawings online. It later brought down the files on orders of the U.S. State Department, but not before the drawings were downloaded by a large number of people.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Tags business issuesperipheralsPrintersStratasysMakerBotMergers and acquisitions

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