3D Printing Buyouts in 2021: M&As Are on the Rise


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So far, in 2021, there were at least 20 major global takeover deals from 3D printing companies for more than $6.8 billion. As usual, the United States dominated the mergers and acquisitions (M&A) business segment, with at least 14 deals. In fact, according to data from Bloomberg’s financial team, the value of private equity purchases in 2021 surpassed the total for all of 2020 in just a few weeks, similar to the record leveraged buyouts in 2007.

Under the cloud of an unprecedented pandemic, the year 2020 saw many 3D printing companies follow the general trend of SPAC merger deals to go public, while acquisition dealmaking slowed down, particularly compared to previous years. However, since January 2021, 3D printing company buyouts have picked up. Here are the acquisitions so far in chronological order:

Protolabs Completes Hubs Acquisition

Protolabs (NYSE: PRLB) acquired 3D Hubs for $280 million in January 2021 to create one of the most comprehensive manufacturing portfolios in the industry. The move is considered a “landmark merger” of two international manufacturers, combining a service bureau and a supplier distribution network. Upon completion of the deal, 3D Hubs was rebranded to “Hubs,” a new name representing the company’s production capabilities beyond 3D printing.

Engineer working with Desktop Metal 3D printer.

Desktop Metal wants to transform the manufacturing industry by mass manufacturing end-use parts. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

Desktop Metal Buys EnvisionTEC

As one of the first acquisitions of 2021, Desktop Metal’s (NYSE: DM) buyout of EnvisionTEC – the original inventor of digital light processing – for $300 million represents a new addition to DM’s growing portfolio of 3D printing technologies, more than doubling its global distribution network and increasing geographic sales capabilities. In addition, under DM’s umbrella, EnvisionTEC adds a robust set of vertically-focused partners in the dental and jewelry markets, which the Massachusetts-based business plans to leverage to sell its metal additive manufacturing (AM) solutions. The transaction, which concluded in February 2021, left EnvisionTEC as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Desktop Metal, with founder Al Siblani continuing to serve as CEO.

Lumentum’s Billion-Dollar Deal to Acquire Coherent

This $5.7 billion cash and stock transaction is among the largest in the 3D printing industry in 2021. Lumentum (NASDAQ: LITE), a manufacturer of optical components and subsystems, purchased photonics maker Coherent (NASDAQ: COHR), which manufactured the well-received CREATOR 3D printer in a mega-deal to accelerate photonic innovation, and significantly expand Lumentum’s penetration of the more than $10 billion markets for lasers and photonics outside of communications and 3D sensing.

Fathom Buys Summit 

Before announcing a SPAC merger deal to go public, on-demand advanced manufacturer Fathom acquired injection molding and precision tooling services provider Summit Tooling, Inc. and Summit Plastics, Inc., collectively known as Summit. The newly procured brand’s leading customer base includes some of the largest and most recognizable players in the medical and packaging end markets, enhancing Fathom’s domestic injection molding and tooling capabilities. This is the fourth add-on acquisition to the Fathom portfolio, but certainly not the last. In fact, management suggested they continue to actively pursue acquisitions to broaden their customer base and enhance their service offerings.

Researcher working with bioprinted disease models at the lab.

New content on 3D bioprinting disease models, speeding up therapeutic discoveries in vitro. Image courtesy of Cellink.

Cellink Acquires Ginolis and MatTek

Cellink’s (STO: CLNK-B) first two acquisitions of the year include Ginolis, a Finnish company focusing on diagnostics automation and advanced robotics solutions for medical and diagnostics, in February 2021 for €70 million ($83 million). Followed by the buyout of Boston life sciences company MatTek in March for $68 million. Now recognized as one of the largest bioconvergence enterprises in the industry, Cellink acquired both startups to offer its customers better workflows, including higher quality bioprinting experiments and results, faster throughput of printed tissues, and more reliable and reproducible data.

Nikon Buys Major Stake in Morf3D

Japanese camera maker Nikon (OTCMKTS: NINOY) acquired majority ownership of El Segundo, California’s Morf3D, for an undisclosed amount on April 2021. A $6.5 billion manufacturer of optics and imaging products, Nikon extends beyond DSLR cameras to microscopes, measurement instruments, rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and ophthalmic lenses. This latest deal, estimated at nearly 10 billion yen ($91 million), gives Nikon a foothold in the supply chain for small satellites, a growing field of the aerospace and 3D printing industries.

3T Additive Now Part of Sandvik’s BEAMIT

Now that Sandvik’s (STO: SAND) BEAMIT Group has acquired 3T Additive Manufacturing from AM GLOBAL, it expects to create an integrated and advanced AM service provider. The newly acquired UK service bureau holds some of the highest quality certifications for deliveries to aerospace and medical and will complement BEAMIT’s fully integrated value chain.

A nano industrial impeller compared to a pencil and match.

An industrial impeller produced on the Nanofabrica Tera 250. Image courtesy of Nanofabrica.

Nano Dimension Acquires Deep Cube and NanoFabrica

The Israeli company Nano Dimension (Nasdaq: NNDM) committed roughly $125 million to acquire two startups in just one week. On April 20, 2021, it announced the takeover of DeepCube, a machine and deep learning technology startup, followed by NanoFabrica, a developer of precise 3D-micro-printing technology. As a provider of intelligent machines for the fabrication of Additively Manufactured Electronics (AME), Nano Dimension has kept the investment within its borders. Both startups are also based out of Israel.

3D Systems Buys Allevi and Additive Works

In a revolutionary move to expand its leadership in the field of regenerative medicine, AM pioneer 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) acquired bioprinting business Allevi and software company Additive Works. The two strategic purchases will accelerate growth in medical and pharmaceutical research laboratories and expand simulation capabilities for the rapid optimization of industrial-scale 3D printing processes.

Allevi bioprinter machine in action.

3D Systems acquired Allevi bioprinting startup. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

Desktop Metal Buys Adaptive3D

The second acquisition by Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM) this year was resin manufacturer Adaptive3D. Spun out of research from the University of Texas at Dallas with core technology developed by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funding, Adaptive3D will provide best-in-class properties in printed elastomers for AM. In addition, Desktop Metal will combine Adaptive3D’s patented elastomer materials with its printers, such as the Xtreme 8K, to accelerate the adoption of AM solutions for high-volume, end-use elastomeric parts, and products.

Cellink Buys Nanoscribe, Visikol, and Discover Echo

Continuing with its planned strategic global expansion, Cellink (CLNK-B.ST) acquired three new businesses in a month for $154.4 million. With German startup Nanoscribe, Cellink has become the world’s first life science company with internal Two-Photon Polymerization (2PP) AM capabilities. Through its deal with Visikol, Cellink will leverage the proprietary Visikol HISTO tissue clearing reagents and the proprietary software platform 3Screen, built on advanced machine learning evaluation to provide customers in-depth analysis of their tissue and cell culture samples. As for Discover Echo, Cellink plans to take advantage of the company’s innovative and revolutionary patented hybrid microscopes that easily transform between upright and inverted configurations.

3D printed propulsion technology.

Agile Space Industries propulsion technologies: thrusters built with Agiles in-house additive technologies. Image courtesy of Agile Space Industries.

Tronix3D Now Part of Agile Space Industries 

Tronix3D has been rebranded as Agile Additive after Agile Space Industries bought it to deliver improved space-ready rocket engines. Agile Space already designed, tested and manufactured in-space propulsion systems for satellites and spacecraft using state-of-the-art 3D metal alloy printing techniques. The deal, however, will empower and support manufacturing at one of the leading aerospace companies in propulsion.

Desktop Metal’s Third Acquisition So Far: Aerosint

Multi-material 3D printing startup Aerosint is another company that has been added to Desktop Metal’s portfolio. Valued at $1.5 billion, Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM) has been on an acquisition spree of late after a recent SPAC merger deal took the company public in December 2020. Now that Belgian recoater system developer Aerosint has been integrated into DM, the company hopes to unlock a range of new applications for powder-based AM solutions.

Prototyped part being displayed in front of a truck from Prototek.

Prototek buys Midwest Prototyping to build more on-demand manufacturing. Image courtesy of Prototek.

Prototek Buys Midwest Prototyping

Sheet metal fabrication and rapid prototyping company Prototek has now built a one-stop destination for on-demand manufacturing with the addition of Midwest Prototyping. The combined company will provide a full suite of sheet metal, CNC, and AM capabilities with a fleet of more than 140 machines, allowing both firms to serve a more geographically diverse customer base with locations near technology hubs in the Northeast, Silicon Valley, and the Midwest.

Essentium buys into Collider

Last on our list is Essentium. An innovator in both engineering filament materials and industrial AM platforms, the Texas business bought into Collider, a pioneer of programmable tooling that combines the speed of digital light processing (DLP) 3D printing and the material strength of injection molding. Through the deal, Essentium aims to take the technology to new horizons by leveraging its expertise in material science and 3D printing machines. At its core, Essentium expects to unlock advantages for manufacturers across consumer, medical, transportation, wearables, aerospace, and industrial industries.

For more information about 3D printing stocks, check out the 3DPrint.com Stocks Zone and register for the free AM Investment Summit with Stifel and SmarTech Analysis.

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