Royal DSM Acquires Portion of Clariant 3D Printing Materials

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Royal DSM has announced that it will be taking over portions of the 3D printing portfolio of Swiss chemical giant Clariant, representing a somewhat dramatic shift in the additive manufacturing (AM) materials market. Specifically, DSM will now have a larger collection of filament, pellet and powder products for 3D printing.

The 3D printing materials space has become a competitive one since an increasing number of established chemical companies began entering the space. Among them was Clariant, a near $6.5 billion spin-off of Sandoz, once known as the inventors of LSD but which has since become Novartis, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. In 2017, Clariant launched its 3D printing business and, only three years later, Clariant has determined that AM materials don’t fit within its general strategy, though it will keep a foot in the market with its additives and flame retardants.

Clariant 3D Printer Filament.

The Dutch nutrition, health and materials multinational DSM, meanwhile, has been in the additive materials business for over 25 years and has been rapidly increasing its growth in the space particularly in recent years. Its finance capital arm, DSM Ventures, has poured money into a number of projects, including material startup Adaptive3D, smart inkjet 3D printing company Inkbit, post-processing firm Additive Manufacturing Technologies and Voxel8, a startup dedicated to multimaterial 3D printing. DSM continues to expand its materials horizons, as well, focusing on such pellet-based extrusion and flame retardant filament, among others.

DSM’s glass-reinforced Arnite AM8527 PET 3D printing material. Image courtesy of Royal DSM.

Clariant is handing over several staff members, its background in powder development, a piece of its filament and pellet materials portfolio to DSM. Additionally included is a small production line for manufacturing small batches of materials, as well as some operations dedicated to 3D printing customer relations.

DSM suggests that these acquisitions will not only increase its overall product portfolio, but will allow for more agile production with “faster product tweaks based on application needs” due to both the expertise of the Clariant team that will be joining DSM and a “dedicated, highly flexible and high-speed compounding setup.”

Joris Peels, 3DPrint.com Executive Editor and SmarTech analyst, provided his insight into the news, saying, “[I loved] their rail product; the packaging was awesome, the marketing was really good; it was very slick and well done. It was smart of them to use their compounding and additives expertise to make flame retardant and other highly functional products. If the Clariant team brings its agility and speed, as well as application knowledge, to DSM it should make the [Dutch] giant nimbler.”

In particular, Peels noted how quick the Clariant team was in the market, adding that the acquisition could provide DSM with its mark in 3D printing filaments:

“Relative to other polymer companies the Clariant team really our executed and in a very rapid manner met the market with high quality compounds and filaments for specific applications. Clariants products, filaments, compounds and the selected additives are all very high grade and their products were very application focused and ahead of the curve,” Peels said. “DSM has yet to really make a mark in filaments and the Clariant teams’ agility and market knowledge could give DSM the edge that it seeks on application focused FDM filaments.”

As DSM continues to grow in the additive space, it will be competing against the likes of BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, which is also making serious moves within the space and at a rapid pace. The most notable and recent may be the purchase of 3D printing service bureau Sculpteo, as well as its large investments in Materialise and Essentium. As these transformations continue to occur in materials, we will certainly see the AM industry as a whole change shape in new and unexpected ways.

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