Here’s what we’re reading/watching (more watching) today:
1) It’s official: Two of the biggest names in 3D printing are joining forces.
Minneapolis-based Stratasys plans to acquire Brooklyn-based MakerBot in a $403 million merger. If all goes as planned, MakerBot will be a separate subsidiary to Stratasys, giving Stratasys access to the desktop 3D market more or less dominated by MakerBot, while giving MakerBot access to Stratasys’s cutting-edge R&D. The companies’ CEOs, besides engaging in predictable mutual admiration, made the business advantages of the merger clear via a release:
“Bre Pettis and his team at MakerBot have built the strongest brand in the desktop 3D printer category by delivering an exceptional user experience. MakerBot has impressive products, and we believe that the company’s strategy of making 3D printing accessible and affordable will continue to drive adoption,” Stratasys CEO David Reis said.
“Partnering with Stratasys,” said MakerBot founder and CEO Bre Pettis, “will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring 3D technology to more people. I am excited about the opportunities this combination will bring to our current and future customers.”
The merger was widely rumored in the 3D printer world and will all but certainly make the two companies household names in the consumer 3D-printer market. Control of that market is becoming increasingly valuable as online and brick-and-mortar stores such as Amazon and Staples are getting on board and making a point of selling 3D printers.
Earlier this year at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Pettis unveiled a prototype of MakerBot’s desktop 3D scanner The Digitizer. Meanwhile, Stratasys received attention recently for its collaboration with MIT Self-Assembly Lab Director Skylar Tibbits on what Tibbits has dubbed “4D printing.”
The acquisition, which is still awaiting regulatory approval, includes the 3D design database Thingiverse.com as well as MakerBot’s software library, service plan and filaments. Neither company will be moving its physical location, with MakerBot continuing operations at its new factory in Brooklyn. A news conference announcing the acquisition is scheduled for Thursday at 10:00 a.m. EDT in Brooklyn.
2) If you have an alien invasion phobia, then you may want to steer clear of this episode from PBS Digital Studios’ bi-weekly series “Under H20.” The video takes viewers along with Craig Musburger, a marine biologist and Emmy Award winner, as he and his team film off the coast of Hawaii and encounter pyrosomes and comb jellies, or ctenophora.
3) The NSA has been in the news quite a bit of late. News surrounding its data-gathering practices has tangentially received a bit more attention in the wake of FBI Director Robert Mueller acknowledging Wednesday that the bureau uses drones for domestic surveillance. Below is a look at a history of the NSA, going back to the events that pre-dated the agency:
4) If you’re not content with a flowery decoration on the top of your latte, perhaps you’d prefer a photo of yourself instead. Taiwanese coffee chain Lets Cafe has a machine that can take care of that for you — printing your (or someone else’s) photograph over the foam of your latte. The video shows how it’s done:
5) And if you’re wondering whether five pianists have played Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” on one piano simultaneously, wonder no more: