Though Autodesk has released its Ember 3D printer, the company is still, at its heart, a software company. And, as it expands this software in the industrial 3D printing space with Autodesk Within, the company is looking to dominate that space. Today, Autodesk has made a significant move to do so with the acquisition of netfabb, the German developer of one of the most popular design tools for industrial additive manufacturing. Along with the acquisition, Autodesk has made a strategic investment in netfabb’s parent company, FIT Technology Group, a growing provider in industrial 3D printing services.
The transaction will close in Q4 of FY2016 with no specific terms disclosed. Samir Hanna, Autodesk vice president and general manager of Consumer & 3D Printing, said of the deal. “Autodesk has always been impressed by FIT’s track record in creating powerful solutions to meet the challenges of industrial additive manufacturing and together we will accelerate a new future of making things. We look forward to welcoming the netfabb team to Autodesk and helping designers and manufacturers worldwide take 3D printing beyond prototyping and plastics, to reliably creating production-grade parts at scale.”
Autodesk has recognized the popularity of netfabb, as over 80,000 designers, engineers, and more use the software during the 3D printing process. With the acquisition, Autodesk will be able to integrate netfabb both into their sales and support network, as well as into the company’s own software, such as Autodesk Fusion 360 and the Spark 3D printing platform. Not only does this help the company improve its own design and 3D printing products, but it also absorbs the competition.
Carl Fruth, CEO of FIT Technology Group’s parent company FIT AG, commented, “Autodesk shares FIT’s goal of delivering high quality industrial additive manufacturing. We’re looking forward to cooperating with Autodesk – our newest investor– and we are confident that netfabb will continue to thrive and grow as part of Autodesk.”
FIT is growing its industrial 3D printing capacities significantly, giving Autodesk even more leverage in the manufacturing services side of the technology. netfabb’s various partnerships with Microsoft, in developing their .3MF format for instance, will coincide nicely with Autodesk’s own deals with Microsoft, strengthening the 3MF Consortium overall. One company that may have some concern over these developments is Materialise, the leading software and service provider for the industry over the past twenty years.