Stratasys Wants to Put 99,000 MakerBot 3-D Printers in Schools. Should You Care?

MakerBot Replicator 2. Image: MakerBot.

On Nov. 11, Stratasys (NASDAQ: SSYS  ) issued a press released stating that it would be "making a major announcement at 10:00 a.m.Tuesday, November 12." So what was the major announcement, and should investors take note?

Digging into the details
Well, the announcement concerned MakerBot's goal to get a 3-D printer in every school in America. There were just under 99,000 public schools in America in 2010, so this goal is quite ambitious indeed. To put it in perspective, Stratasys and MakerBot combined have cumulatively shipped 
64,855 printers as of the last quarter. The company has partnered with Donors Choose, America Makes, and AutoDesk to tackle this ambitious project. 

To get a printer into a school, the school would go to the Donors Choose website and create a project for the MakerBot Academy package, which includes a Replicator 2 printer, three spools of PLA filament, and the MakeCare service plan. This retails for $2,702 if you were to purchase it online, and Academy Bundles on Donors Choose are currently priced between $2,874 and $3,127. It appears the company is selling these kits at full price initially and offering continuing-education courses for free. As of this writing, there are seven Academy packages on Donors Choose with zero bids, but the program has only just begun. 

Does it have a chance?
While the program appears to be a valiant effort to help better educate America's children, the full retail price could be cause for concern. This is my personal opinion, but it seems odd the company isn't applying a discount to help get these printers in schools. True, the school does get free education services for teaching students how to use the printer and software, so there is a bonus normal buyers wouldn't get. Time will tell, but I think the program would be much more effective if MakerBot sold these at an education discount.

Image: MakerBot.

How you can keep tabs on the program
In the meantime, investors can go to the Donors Choose website to see how the packages are selling. If the company can pull off the goal in even a small portion of public schools, it would certainly bolster growth tremendously for the MakerBot brand. In the following video, Motley Fool analyst Blake Bos discusses the new program and another news event Stratasys shareholders may want to pay even more attention to.

*Authors Note: MakerBot has since announced the school kits are being sold at a 25% discount to retail. 

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  • Report this Comment On November 12, 2013, at 7:00 PM, ScottAtlanta wrote:

    Great idea....for 3D systems, that is.....!!

    Why mess with second tier?

    Go to source...3D systems. Thanks StartAndMiss.

  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2013, at 3:09 PM, VikingBear wrote:

    Consider the effect this technology will have on the employment prospects of, lets say for examples, machinists and assemblers.

    Generations of highly skilled and well-paid workers are going to lose their employment prospects in the near future. This will cause social turmoil and the collapse of entire sectors of the middle class.

    Prices of many objects will drop by orders of magnitude as less expensive aterrnatives become available. Businesses that project long-term stability for their products based only on performance to date will fail drastically.

    As awareness of this new reality spreads in the financial markets, volatility will rise dramatically.

    Investors are in for a wild ride...

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