2016 In Review: The biggest 3D printing industry deals of the year

In Customization by trinckle team

2016 was a banner year for the 3D printing industry. With so many major deals it can be hard to keep track of the highlights. So, we’ve created of a list of the biggest deals you can’t afford to miss!

It was a big year for the 3D printing market. Lots of change, major investments, and new comers. Although the deals vary in size and kind, they all indicate that the market is alive and well, thriving actually. When desktop printers failed to takeoff as predicted, and we did not all start printing our new shoes at home, some declared that the 3D printing moment was over. It looks as though this prediction was somewhat overly pessimistic. Recent projections estimate that the 3D printing market will grow to 21 billion USD by 2020 (Wohlers Associates, 2014).

As technology continues to improve and develop the market potential will grow in step, which could mean entirely new opportunities for companies within the 3D space.


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To Market, to Market: 2016 3D printing deals

A lot of stuff happened in 2016. We’ve summarized the most influential deals of the year, and consider what this might mean for the future of 3D printing.

1. GE acquires Concept Laser and Arcam
Talk about going big. In the fall of 2016 GE announced its plans to buy 2 metal printing companies at a value of $1.4 billion. A Swedish 3D printing company, Arcam “has a good mix of metal manufacturing technology through its unique Electron Beam Machines production method and its proprietary Plasma Atomization powder manufacturing” (Disruptive). GE will leverage its resources to help develop these technologies further.GE also purchased Concept Laser. A German metal laser printing specialist, GE plans to implement Concept Laser’s technology across it’s established customer base across industries like aerospace, medical and dental, automotive, and jewelry (Disruptive).

Both purchases further strengthen GE’s plan to focus on mass production of end components and products. As technology and workflows change and improve, the potential to use 3D printing for larger series production is becoming more realizable. For example, GE has already started using 3D printing to produce engine nozzles (INGENIEUR.de), an activity their recent acquisitions will enable them to scale. Increasingly manufacturers will be looking for ways to move beyond prototypes and into the production of end goods.

2. Siemens acquires majority stake in Material Solutions
With the acquisition of Material Solutions, Siemens continues to push its additive manufacturing (AM) agenda and equip itself for digital production. In August 2016, the company acquired an “85% stake” (Siemens) in the UK-based company. A not unexpected move, the deal further cements Siemens position as one of the leading AM processing and production companies worldwide. With this acquisition, Siemens further bolsters its additive manufacturing programs as it begins to drive more aggressively towards “industrialization and commercialization” (Siemens). This deal follows on the heels of another investment made by Siemens in February of 2016. The technology giant invested approximately 21.4 million euro in a new facility, dedicated to the production of gas turbine components, both for use and as prototypes (com).

Deals like these prove that 3D printing is far more than a prototyping technology, and we expect to see the focus on commercial production grow further in 2017.

3. 3D Hubs acquires Printivate
November 2016, 3D Hubs, an online market for 3D services, made its first post-fundraising purchase and acquired Printivate. Printivate develops software for 3D printing, simplifying the handling of 3D models. 3D Hubs CEO, explains that the integration is inspired by the company’s goal to offer holistic services: “Our goal is to build the most efficient 3D print solution for professionals working in design and manufacturing. We’re going to achieve this by integrating advanced tools directly into the 3D Hubs platform” (Disruptive). 

As a 3D printing software-company ourselves, we totally understand where 3D Hubs is coming from. The hardware (the printers) have developed rapidly in the past few years and are capable of producing high-quality end products. But, many companies do not yet have the software tools in place to enable them to effectively work with AM methods. In 2017 (and the years ahead) we predict that 3D printing software will become a critical topic for companies looking to be successful with AM.

trinckle has been developing 3D printing software since 2013, we’re true experts. Our focus is the creation of software that makes the customization of any product possible, and we also develop handling tools to support additive manufacturing workflows. You can learn about trinckle’s 3D printing configuration software, paramate, and our handling tools on our website: www.trinckle.com

4. Carbon raises $81 Million USD
Wait how much? Yes, you saw that right, in 2016 Carbon raised a cool $81 Million USD to help fuel the further development of its CLIP (continuous liquid interface production) technology. Since making their debut, Carbon has garnered significant attention from the within and beyond the 3D printing industry. Using this method, “manufacturers can make functional prototypes, or a small volume of parts, 25 to 100 times faster than they could using other industrial 3D printers” (TechCrunch). Such time savings certainly won’t be negligible as companies begin printing products and components for end users.

 An innovative technology and team, we look forward to seeing what the year ahead has in store for Carbon.

5. Desktop Metal raises $33.76 Million USD
It’s early days yet for Desktop Metal, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t already making waves. This startup has a lofty goal: the production of affordable, desktop printers, capable of printing high-quality metal parts. Desktop Metal strives to make metal printing accessible for more businesses than ever before:“Metal 3D printing has been out of the reach of most companies because it’s very expensive and slow. We’re developing a system that’s very fast and more accessible” Ric Fulop, Desktop Metal CEO (3ders.org)

Who said the future is plastic? Seems like metal is front of mind for companies of all sizes and across markets. We expect to hear more from Desktop Metal in 2017.

6. Formlabs raises $35 Million USD
Since arriving on the scene in 2011, Formlabs has always generated excitement with its desktop SLA printers. In August, 2016 they announced a series B funding round in which they raised $35 million (Formlabs). With this round of investment, Formlabs plans to expand its business and concentrate more heavily on research and development.

While consumer desktop printing remains, for the moment, a somewhat distant future, the demand of professional desktop printers is alive and well.

An exciting year by any measure, 2016 marks a shift in the 3D printing market. Major players are realizing the potential for commercial production, and equipping themselves with hardware and software. Though no one can say for sure what 2017 has in store for 3D printing, it is safe to say that based on 2016 it won’t be disappointing.

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