Minnesota-based 3D printing manufacturer Stratasys today acquired MakerBot for $402 million based on Stratasys’ stock price in a deal that could accelerate the arrival of 3D printers to the mainstream market.
It’s also good news for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who had invested in MakerBot during a $10 million round via his investment arm Bezos Expeditions. MakerBot makes 3D printers for consumers and professionals and has sold more than 22,000 3D printers since its inception in 2009. The company has another Seattle connection — CEO Bre Pettis grew up in Seattle, graduating from Bellevue High School and The Evergreen State College. He then taught for seven years for Seattle Public Schools from 1999-2006.
During Amazon’s annual company shareholder meeting, Bezos was asked about 3D printing and if it would enable the digitization of physical goods in the same way Amazon is digitizing books today.
“I think the answer to that is, not anytime soon,” Bezos said. “That’s far, far in the future.”
He cited the capabilities of 3D printing today, saying you can’t build “interesting objects” with limited materials. Even incredibly simple objects “like a toaster” have dozens of materials, he pointed out, calling it “a very complicated object.” Any objects that get built in volume are already built very efficiently, he said.
Bezos also said he thought 3D printing was “super interesting,” but not quite yet ready for mass production — though today’s acquisition by Stratasys certainly makes that more of a realistic possibility.
Previously on GeekWire: A playground for geeks: Nike vet to open 10,000 square foot maker space in Seattle