Ultimaker and MakerBot Merge to Advance 3D Printing Industry!

The 3D printing world is facing a big shakeup. Two of some of the biggest names in additive manufacturing have just decided to join their forces. Ultimaker and MakerBot have announced their intention to merge the companies. The printer manufacturing …

Ile Kauppila

June 27, 2022

The 3D printing world is facing a big shakeup. Two of some of the biggest names in additive manufacturing have just decided to join their forces.

Ultimaker and MakerBot have announced their intention to merge the companies. The printer manufacturing duo hopes to complete the merger before the end of 2022.

By combining their expertise and manufacturing capabilities, Ultimaker and MakerBot hope to accelerate the global adoption of additive manufacturing technologies. They aim to do this by advancing what current 3D printers, software, and printing materials are capable of.

“Technological innovation is paramount in growing the availability of easy-to-use professional 3D printing solutions. By combining our teams and leveraging the additional funding, we can accelerate the development of advanced solutions … with a broad portfolio of hardware and software solutions to serve a wide spectrum of customers and applications,” explained Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot.

Let’s take a closer look at the details of this exciting new development and what it means for the 3D printing industry in the UK and elsewhere.

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Merger Details

We’ll talk about the merger’s impact on the companies’ printers and software soon. But before that, let’s quickly cover the nitty-gritty of the deal.

Funding the merger deal is a £49.7 million ($62.4 million) investment from Ultimaker’s and MakerBot’s current investors, NPM Capital and Stratasys, respectively. After the merger, NPM will own a 54.4% share of the new company, while Stratasys retains 45.6%.

This also means that MakerBot, which has been a Stratasys subsidiary, will leave its parent company. Although Stratasys still holds a stake in the new company, it will be operationally independent.

Ultimaker and MakerBot said they intend to maintain headquarters at both of their current locations in the Netherlands and the United States. The new company will be co-headed by Jürgen von Hollen, current Ultimaker CEO, and Nadav Goshen, current MakerBot CEO. Von Hollen will manage the commercial functions while Goshen looks after operations.

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Printer Portfolio

Fortunately, existing and prospective users of Ultimaker’s or MakerBot’s printers have nothing to worry about. In a press conference announcing the merger, both said that they intend to maintain their current printer portfolios.

That means Ultimaker’s popular desktop-sized FFF printers, like Ultimaker S5, remain in production. Consequently, UK Ultimaker resellers — like SolidPrint3D — will keep offering the machines. MakerBot, too, will keep manufacturing its production-oriented METHOD Series, alongside other products.

But the merged operation doesn’t intend to rest on its laurels. The combined creativity of the two companies, together with the new funding, will allow them to explore new possibilities in desktop 3D printing.

In particular, the new entity is looking to target the “light industrial” sector, the two CEOs confirmed. According to von Hollen, this segment has plenty of opportunities that aren’t currently being met.

“We can develop a strong, robust, repeatable printer in the £12-£16,000 ($15-$20,000) price range that can do much more than what we can today,” agreed Goshen.

The merged company seems to be well-positioned to achieve this goal. Ultimaker has traditionally built more accessible, though still production-quality printers, while MakerBot’s focus has been on industrial machines. Von Hollen and Goshen said that together, they can aim to create a new type of affordable, engineering-grade 3D printer.

“I think this is where the markets have stopped evolving, because of the fragmentation and because of market size. So, the need to scale and the need to invest has come from the market, which are the drivers behind this merger,” Von Hollen told 3D Printing Industry.

Neither CEO would divulge closer details of what the new printer could be like. Given their past printers, though, we can probably expect a quality FFF printer.

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Software

But Ultimaker and MakerBot added that they won’t be focusing only on building new printers. They recognize that successful, industrial-oriented 3D printing requires an ecosystem of hardware and software.

Both partners already have plenty of experience with 3D printing software. Ultimaker produces the popular Cura slicer, alongside other software products. MakerBot, on its part, manages and maintains the Thingiverse 3D model repository with more than two million models.

Ultimaker and MakerBot said they had earmarked a portion of the new investment for further development of all of their software solutions. This is good news for hobbyists and professional 3D printer users.

Considering how widely used Cura is among all 3D printer operators, additional funding for improvements is very welcome. The new company can also use the money to give a boost to Thingiverse, which admittedly suffered a setback with the serious 2021 data breach.

In whichever direction the new firm takes its software, we’re happy to hear that they understand 3D printing isn’t just about the printers. Successful and efficient additive manufacturing relies just as much on software.

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Who Stands to Benefit?

So, having heard the news, who is it that should get the most excited about them? In short, any small-scale additive manufacturer.

Even the planned price point of Ultimaker/MakerBot’s new 3D printer makes it clear that whatever machine they come up with will be aimed at professional users. But for them, the new company could offer something we haven’t seen before.

Given the industrial-grade machines both partners have already produced, they should have a deep understanding of what features additive manufacturers need. The talk about scalability and ease of use also sounds promising to both small- and large-scale manufacturing businesses.

But without more details, all we can do is speculate. We’ll just have to wait and see what exciting technology the new company comes up with.

About Ultimaker and MakerBot

Ultimaker was founded in 2011 and has since grown to be one of the leading 3D printer producers in the world. The secret behind their rise is the versatile and complete 3D printing solution they offer.

Ultimaker produces open material 3D printers. They’re compatible with third-party filaments, which gives manufacturers great flexibility. The production-quality but compact printers can even print with carbon fibre materials.

Ultimaker also manufacturers its own materials and 3D printing software. The close integration between their solutions makes for a simple and easily approachable 3D printing solution.

MakerBot launched in 2009 and was acquired by Stratasys in 2013. The company has made a name for itself with its industrial-oriented 3D printers. Some of the world’s leading aerospace and automotive manufacturers rely on MakerBot’s METHOD printers, while its Replicator printer is popular among educators.

We wonder what the combined company is going to be called. UltiBot? MakerMaker?

Guess we’ll have to wait until autumn to find out.

If you’d like to learn more about Ultimaker 3D printers, get in touch with the experts at Solid Print3D! Call us at 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.

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