In an unexpected corporate move, 3D printing industry giant announced its acquisition of GrabCAD.
GrabCAD, if you don’t know, is a leading repository and sharing platform for 3D models suitable for 3D printing. Focused on providing services to engineers, the platform has grown significantly since it launched in 2010. Aside from its presentation of 3D models, the most notable feature of GrabCAD is its “GrabCAD Workbench”, a service permitting designers and engineers to work collaboratively on 3D projects.
GrabCAD has apparently grown sufficiently to attract the attention of Stratasys, who purchased them in a “cash deal” that is set to close sometime in September, assuming all conditions of the sale are met.
Stratasys says GrabCAD will continue to operate as it has, with the same management structure – but will appear in the Stratasys organization chart under their “Global Products and Technology Group”. Evidently Stratasys wishes GrabCAD will continue their growth while under their umbrella. In fact, it’s likely Stratasys will direct more business towards GrabCAD, so expect big things to happen.
This is not the first 3D model repository acquired by Stratasys. Their purchase of MakerBot came equipped with Thingiverse, perhaps the world’s largest repo dedicated to 3D printing. However, Thingiverse is clearly focused on the consumer market, whereas GrabCAD’s market is designers and engineers. We don’t see a crossover between the two services in the works as they each address very different markets.
The process of industry consolidation continues. As 3D startups emerge and become successful, they become acquisition targets by the larger operations. Stratasys competitor 3D Systems has been rapidly acquiring many companies in the space for some years, while Stratasys has followed the same path, although at a slower pace.