History is filled with examples of companies that acquire their supply chains, usually to increase synergies, reduce costs and promote innovation. One of the cases that best illustrates this scenario is Apple: the company acquired P.A. Semi in 2008, and the tiny maker of low-power chips allowed the tech giant to start designing the cores of its products rather than relying on Intel. Smart moves like these are great ways to vertically integrate forces and ensure ready supplies of key inputs. We have seen many acquisitions, mergers, and partnerships in the 3D printing industry throughout the last few years, from BASF to Cellink, and now Formlabs has announced a very smart move: acquiring the primary material supplier for its library of proprietary resin materials, Spectra Group Photopolymers, a company that has been manufacturing chemicals since 1990. The Ohio-based Spectra has developed an organic catalog containing more than 2,000 compounds and specializes in solutions in the photosciences, UV/EB radiation cure, and organic synthetic chemistry.
“From the beginning, it’s been important that Formlabs provide a reliable and accessible printing process,” said Max Lobovsky, CEO and co-founder of Formlabs. “Supporting a successful print process meant rigorous engineering, innovative material development, and enabling a seamless end-to-end process for our users. Most 3D printing companies are not vertically integrated and don’t have access to their own resin manufacturing, but we believe materials are a critical component in opening up new applications, workflows and disrupting industries.”
Along with today’s acquisition announcement, Formlabs has also revealed its further investment in renovating the facility for biocompatible manufacturing. Now the company has invested over a million dollars into building out an FDA-registered, ISO Class 8 certified cleanroom (designed to ensure a secure and safe product from production to packaging) in an ISO 13485 certified facility for dental and medical materials development within Spectra.
“Formlabs has been an excellent partner and joining forces has meant growing our capabilities,” said Alex Mejiritski, president of Spectra Group Photopolymers. “Biocompatibility is an exciting addition for Formlabs and Spectra, we’re looking forward to continuing our investment in innovative Formlabs materials.”
Backed by dozens of engineering and materials scientists in the industry, Formlabs acquisition will strengthen its vertical integration, allowing for faster material development and innovation. Moreover, Spectra has been supplying Formlabs’ primary materials since 2012, so the company is familiar with the product.
As part of the acquisition, all Spectra customers will continue to be retained and served without interruptions. Spectra will also continue to provide its expertise and engage in independent business developments where appropriate.
Today, Formlabs has also announced its new dedicated dental business unit Formlabs Dental, the Form 3B dental 3D printer, and materials aimed to meet the needs of dental, lab, and orthodontic professionals. Among the new materials included are Formlabs newly formulated surgical guide resin and four new shades in the digital dentures material family.
As part of the new hardware announcement, the company is opening its materials platform for the Form 3B and extending offers to resin manufacturers to validate and add their materials to the ecosystem. With Formlabs’ investment in biocompatible manufacturing at its Ohio facility, verticals such as dental, healthcare, and audiology will reap the benefits of the company’s superior printer and material solutions.
What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.[Images: Formlabs and Spectra]
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