@A.Peeples: I agree with you completely. I think that the ability to consolidate sales and marketing arms and potentially leverage some internal R&D expenditures can help the combined companies--this one, Stratasys and Objet--and the other big merged player--3D Systems and ZCorp--really push the technology to the next level and get the price down on more consumer-friendly offerings. I think we are just at the tip of the iceberg of what's possible.
I for one think that it is fantastic that companies in this arena are merging. As you mentioned, this is a relatively new technology. Often, new technologies will spawn many small companies - all paying high overhead and incurring major expenses to bring their product to market. In our own company, we have been researching 3D printers but can't justify the high prices. Through university programs, I have gained extensive knowledge of the Objet line of printers and can attest that they create some of the finest quality "prints" - the resolution is incredible and the medium options are extensive. Many companies however, often can't justify the high expense of these systems - often in the 6 figure range (plus medium and maintenance). By merging companies and maturing the technology, prices are sure to come down and make this equipment much more commonplace in engineering, research, and design.
You stated in your article that the two companies will remain much as they were before. Still, I look forward to seeing any new products that they produce during the next few years. With what seems to be exponential growth in the quality and quantity of printers on the market, it is a very exciting time for this field.
Ann, this is a sign of a maturing industry. I am sure there are technology improvements ahead, but that will take larger scale. The devices are also getting larger and more capable. I saw one at a shop I thought was a toy. The case was wood, like an old pinball or pachinko machine. It works fine, but looks tentative, shall we say.
People also underestimate the cost and importance of marketing and distribution.