Much has been made of the relative ease of 3D printing. For ~$2,000 and some lightweight software, one can dive headfirst into the world of printing iPhone covers, Star Trek figures and a massive bust of your grandmother. But this assumes a lot, particularly the belief that 3D printing provides utility, not just “wow” factor. For now, most consumers view it as just that, printing novelty items that satiate their thirst for personalization but are more of a one-off than an embedded behavior. All of this points to 3D printing shops, either as add-on services in the case of UPS or Staples or as standalone specialty shops like the one Oakland shop featured in Make.
Stratasys announced that it has acquired MakerBot in a deal that is reportedly worth $403 million, based on the current share value of Stratasys. This brings together a 3D printing leader and an emerging competitor in desktop 3D printing, and should drive adoption of the medium across the board. It also signals an immediate 3D printing juggernaut that could dominate the industry for years to come, before it has even truly taken off. MakerBot will continue to operate as separate from Stratasys as part of the deal, but it will be a subsidiary of Stratasys and will serve the consumer and desktop market while Stratasys continues to focus on its industrial placements.