3D software giant Autodesk signed a “definitive agreement” to acquire netfabb, a well-known producer of 3D model and printing software.
The deal is set to close in 2016, but we don’t know how much Autodesk will pay for the new acquisition. They’re a very large company, so we know they’ll be able to afford the price.
netfabb is one of the leading producers of 3D print management software, specifically featuring proprietary methods for preparing unwieldy STL files for 3D printing, including repairing broken 3D models and efficiently organizing print jobs for a variety of 3D printing equipment. Their software is quite sophisticated and is used by “more than 80,000 designers, manufacturers, artists, researchers and developers worldwide.”
Germany-based netfabb offers functionality in several packages, including: standalone versions in various levels of capability; “engines”, designed to manage printing on specific 3D printer models; and a cloud-based service that provides online repair of broken 3D models.
netfabb is also a favorite for hobbyists, as the company offers a free version the provides powerful 3D model repair features.
Soon, all of this capability will join the growing Autodesk family of 3D products. Why would Autodesk purchase netfabb? We see two main reasons.
First, netfabb offers tremendous operational capability currently not in Autodesk’s suite of tools. These new capabilities could be integrated with a number of Autodesk platforms to simplify workflows and “keep people using Autodesk product”. netfabb’s functions should deepen Autodesk’s reach into the industrial 3D printing market.
The other reason, we think, is more subtle: By purchasing netfabb, it implies no other company can do so. This blocks a rival 3D company from using netfabb as a building block to grow a competing 3D ecosystem against Autodesk.
So, this acquisition is about function and strategy. For users, it’s probably a very good thing, as we can expect some interesting integrations to appear next year.