AM Investment Strategies Profile: The ExOne Company


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Among the firms that will be participating in the SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit on September 9, 2021 is ExOne (Nasdaq: XONE), whose CEO John Hartner will be involved in our second panel of the day. Recent news of ExOne’s proposed acquisition by Desktop Metal (NYSE: DM) has been one of the most exciting stories of the year.

With a goal of developing a metal 3D printer, ExOne began as the ProMetal division of machining and automation supplier Extrude Hone in 1995. Shortly after, the company was granted an exclusive license to commercialize the binder jetting technology invented by MIT. By 1998, it released its first metal 3D printer, the ProMetal RTS-300, with Motorola as its first customer. The technology works by depositing drops of binder onto a bed of powder, resulting in a green object that must go through a debinding and sintering process to create a final metal part.

ExOne’s binder jetting inkjet nozzles.

As it continued releasing new systems, it branched into the sand-casting market with the S10 sand 3D printer. By applying binder jetting to sand, it became possible to 3D print cores and molds for the casting of metal parts. The endeavor was pursued in tandem with the German company Generis GmbH, whose co-founder Rainer Hoeschsmann, became General Manager of ExOne GmbH in Augsburg, Germany.

In 2005, Extrude Hone founder and CEO Larry Rhoades put all of his efforts into his metal AM operations, selling all but the 3D printing assets of his business to Kennametal. While Kennametal continued supplying tooling and metals, Rhoades established The ExOne Company, LLC. Interestingly, Kennametal has ventured into AM, officially establishing a Kennametal Additive Manufacturing division in 2019, where it sells metal powders, as well as engineering, and production services.

ExOne CEO John Hartner. (Image courtesy of ExOne)

Meanwhile, ExOne was shaken by the death of Rhoades in 2007, leaving the company to be purchased by a company wholly owned by S. Kent Rockwell. Rockwell has served intermittently as CEO, between 2013 and 2016, as well as for a short period before its current CEO, John Hartner, took the reins in May 2019.

In 2013, the firm went public, launching an initial public offering on the Nasdaq. By 2019, it had launched over 12 3D printers and, as Hartner became CEO, was in the process of taking advantage of the renewed attention on metal binder jetting driven by HP and Desktop Metal. This led to the launch of the high-throughput X1 160PRO 3D printer, which was followed by a deal with Rapidia to sell an office-friendly bound metal extrusion 3D printer in 2021.

The X1 160PRO from ExOne.

By the time of its acquisition news, revenues for the company had reached $18.8 million in Q2 of 2021, a 69 percent increase over the same period in 2020 and 44 percent over Q1. Moreover, machine sales had jumped 114 percent from Q2 2020.

The ExOne Metal Designlab printer and X1F advanced furnace. Image courtesy of ExOne.

Desktop Metal, which has transformed into a multi-process, multi-division startup seemingly overnight, agreed to purchase ExOne for $575 million in stock and cash. The deal has been unanimously approved by ExOne’s board and is expected to close in Q4 of this year. It will supplement acquiring companies very young line of bound metal extrusion and binder jetting machines with ExOne’s legacy of equipment and expertise. This will be integrated alongside, Desktop Metal’s medical 3D printing, polymers, and wood. Meanwhile, ExOne will be reinvigorated, as it takes a new direction tackling specific materials for specific customers with specific applications, such as aluminum and copper.

To learn more about the company’s transformation and acquisition, as well as what it will mean for the 3D printing market, register for free to the SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit. On September 9, 2021, ExOne CEO John Hartner will participate in the half-day online event focused on 3D printing market activity.

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