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geToday’s headline heard ’round the world contains all of the biggest buzzwords in 3D printing today: metal additive additive manufacturing, investment, acquisition, GE, Arcam, SLM. This morning, September 6th, world leading digital industrial company GE announced its intention to invest an incredible $1.4 billion to acquire two leading companies in the metal additive manufacturing field: Sweden-based Arcam and Germany-based SLM Solutions.

“We chose these two companies for a reason. We love the technologies and leadership of Arcam AB and SLM Solutions. They each bring two different, complementary additive technology modalities as individual anchors for a new GE additive equipment business to be plugged into GE’s resources and experience as leading practitioners of additive manufacturing. Over time, we plan to extend the line of additive manufacturing equipment and products,” said David Joyce, President & CEO of GE Aviation.

Both companies in the announced acquisition will report now to GE Aviation‘s Joyce, who is set to lead the combined business growth in AM equipment and services, as well as the efforts toward integration and the “GE Store initiative to drive additive manufacturing applications across GE.” While no one could possibly question GE’s commitment to the digital industrial space, particularly with impressive recent showings concerning additive manufacturing technologies, today’s announcement certainly catapults the company forward in its intensive efforts in leadership. The acquisition of these two companies builds the company’s portfolio quickly, allowing for a stronger foothold in the quickly expanding industry and leveraging the expertise of all three entities.

ge bannerGE has long shown itself a company to be reckoned with in the additive manufacturing field, with particular emphasis notable in GE Aviation, where uses range from 3D printed engines to sensor housings, among many others. Metal AM technologies are proving to be vital to GE’s investment strategies, with the company recognizing across the board the importance of a cohesive 3D printing ecosystem. I even wrote an article for GE and The Economist’s Look Ahead blog last year, as the company continued to expand its focus on and awareness of industrial 3D printing. The company has already invested well over a billion dollars into its AM activities around the world, with about $1.5 billion invested since 2010, and today’s acquisition announcement is a demonstrable act highlighting the seriousness with which GE takes additive manufacturing technologies, approximately doubling total investments. Money talks — and this $1.4 billion announcement certainly has a lot to say.

“Additive manufacturing fits GE’s business model to lead in technologies that leverage systems integration, material science, services and digital productivity,” said Joyce. “It will benefit from the GE Store and our core engineering capability.”

In today’s press release announcing the decision, GE highlights the acquired companies, describing them:

Arcam AB, based in Mölndal, Sweden, invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing, and also produces advanced metal powders. Its customers are in the aerospace and healthcare industries. Arcam generated $68 million in revenues in 2015 with approximately 285 employees. In addition to its Sweden site, Arcam operates AP&C, a metal powders operation in Canada, and DiSanto Technology, a medical additive manufacturing firm in Connecticut, as well as sales and application sites worldwide.

SLM Solutions Group, based in Lübeck, Germany, produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing with customers in the aerospace, energy, healthcare, and automotive industries. SLM generated $74 million in revenues in 2015 with 260 employees. In addition to its operations in Germany, SLM has sales and application sites worldwide.

Both Arcam and SLM Solutions are firms we have covered over the years here at 3DPrint.com, as these are leading names with extensive recognition in the field of metal additive manufacturing.

3dp_arcamchinasale_logoFor its part, Arcam has already seen GE as a customer in the aerospace field as the company has expanded and developed use of its Electron Beam Melting (EBM) technology, its metal additive technology that uses laser beams on a metal powder bed system to create fully dense metal parts. Arcam has been focusing on expanding markets, including the US market, for metal AM. GE has been utilizing EBM technologies since 2014, and back in 2013 acquired Avio, an Italian firm that developed that particular type of EBM tech in conjunction with Arcam. Arcam has additionally filled 3DPrint.com in on thoughts directly from the company about EBM tech and metal AM around the world. Arcam’s statement to shareholders includes the following statements:

“The acceptance period of the Offer is expected to commence on September 7, 2016 and expire on October 14, 2016. GE has reserved the right to extend the acceptance period and, to the extent necessary and permissible, will do so in order for the acceptance period to cover applicable decision-making procedures at relevant authorities.”

“…in assessing the merits of the Offer, the Board has also considered that the Company, on the whole, has limited resources and that the Company operates in a demanding and regulated environment with long lead times. Further, the market for Additive Manufacturing is still rather immature and may become subject to technological leaps that may require substantial investments for Arcam in delivering on its business plan. GE has stated that Arcam’s strategy and offering align to GE’s vision of building its own expertise and capabilities in Additive Manufacturing to serve customers in the global industrial community. Further, GE has adequate resources in implementing and taking advantage of Arcam’s growth and business opportunities and will provide know-how and expertise to further leverage Arcam’s technology and to forcefully go to market with Arcam’s products and services.”

slm-1Both Arcam and SLM have also presented at metal AM-focused panels at events around the world. 3DPrint.com had the opportunity to hear from both at the Inside 3D Printing Düsseldorf/METAV event in February. We further had the opportunity to hear more directly from SLM at that show, as the company uses multiple lasers for enhanced efficiency in metal AM technologies. SLM Solutions’ SLM 500, for example, was the first double laser machine on the market and remains the only quadruple laser SLM 3D printer available, though the company has continued to work on improvements to the technology in both number and power of lasers used. SLM Solutions’ CEO, Dr. Markus Rechlin, explained his thoughts on the merger today:

“GE Aviation is a strong partner with outstanding technology expertise. Together, we will continue to develop our technology at our site in Lübeck and position our company on an even broader basis as part of a large, internationally successful group. We expect the takeover to accelerate SLM Solutions’ evolution into a comprehensive systems supplier. For this reason, the takeover offers great opportunities for our employees and customers.”

GE’s acquisition of these companies represents an important point for the company — and its portfolio of product and service offerings. With both Arcam and SLM well-known names in metal 3D printing, their addition to the GE family will bring together key technologies, as well as the minds behind them. In today’s announcement, GE noted that it “expects to grow the new additive business to $1 billion by 2020 at attractive returns and also expects $3-5 billion of product cost-out across the company over the next ten years.” With 346 patents in metal powders already, GE will benefit as well from patented metal powder materials.

“Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company. We are creating a more productive world with our innovative world-class machines, materials and software. We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier. Additive manufacturing will drive new levels of productivity for GE, our customers, including a wide array of additive manufacturing customers, and for the industrial world,” said Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE.

“GE’s aspirations in additive fits our long-term business model. We have world-class industrial businesses that leverage systems integration, material sciences, services and Predix. We want all of our businesses to leverage the GE Store, promote digital differentiation, and drive productivity for GE and our customers. We are excited about the opportunity.”

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The LEAP jet engine contains 19 3D printed fuel nozzles. [Image: Adam Senatori for GE Reports]

GE notes that additive efforts will be centered in Europe — logical, following these two Europe-based acquisitions — though the company’s global ecosystem will be utilized. Arcam and SLM will maintain their HQ and key operating locations, and all management teams and employees will be retained. GE notes as well that the GE additive ecosystem will benefit from complementary technologies attained in previous acquisitions including Morris Technologies and Rapid Quality Manufacturing, and all will collaborate with GE’s Niskayuna, New York-based manufacturing and materials research center and the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based additive design and production lab.

On the business side of the deal, GE explains:

“Each acquisition is structured as a public tender offer for all of the outstanding shares of stock of each company. The closing of each public tender offer is subject to various conditions, including minimum acceptance thresholds and regulatory approvals. GE is in the process of making the necessary filings with authorities with respect to such tender offers, and, upon approval, the documents will be made publicly available.”

Information for shareholders has also been noted by Reuters:

“GE said it would offer 38 euros per share, or a total of 683 million euros ($762 million), for SLM Solutions, which makes laser machines for metal-based 3D printing for aerospace, energy, healthcare and automotive companies.

It had already agreed to buy 31.5 percent of shares from major shareholders, GE said.

GE also offered 285 crowns per share, or a total of 5.86 billion crowns ($685 million), for Arcam, which invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based 3D printing, selling mainly to the aerospace and healthcare industries.

SLM Solutions shares rose 38.9 per cent to 38.61 euros in Frankfurt at 1001 GMT, while Arcam rose 53 per cent to 285 crowns.”

Today’s announcement brings together several of the biggest names in additive manufacturing — and will lead to a restructuring of the metal AM field as we know it. With the collaborative efforts of these industry-leading companies, it’s only a matter of time before we see some more major developments and announcements headlining our news. We’ll be all ears for future updates from GE’s increasingly expansive portfolio. For additional details on today’s announcement and GE’s business dealings in additive manufacturing, including information for shareholders, see here. Discuss further in the GE Acquires 3D Printing Companies Arcam & SLM Solutions forum over at 3DPB.com.

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