Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Nano Dimension Buys Startup for $25M to Step-Up 3D Printed Electronics

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Additive electronics manufacturer Nano Dimension (NASDAQ: NNDM) has sealed its third acquisition this year, adding Essemtec, a Swiss manufacturer of equipment for electronic assembly, to its growing portfolio. The deal will help establish the groundwork for a breakthrough in microchip placement as part of Nano Dimension’s additively manufactured electronics (AME) solution.

The sale was revealed days before the Israeli firm announces its third-quarter results for 2021 and would result in a cash payment of $15.1 million upon closing and an additional up to $9.7 million over 14 months. The transaction, which closed on November 3, 2021, will complement the products developed by Nano Dimension and could further propel it as an industry leader in AME thanks to Essemtec’s know-how in the dispensing and assembly of circuit board components.

3D printing electronics.

3D printing electronics. Image courtesy of Nano Dimension.

As part of Nano Dimension’s strategy to revolutionize AME, this acquisition provides access to new systems, including Essemtec’s production equipment for placing and assembling electronic components on printed circuit boards (PCBs), adaptive highly flexible surface mount technology (SMT) pick-and-place equipment, sophisticated dispenser suitable for both high-speed and micro-dispensing, and intelligent production material storage and logistic system.

Since the introduction of the first machine in 1991, Essemtec’s high-tech solutions have been characterized by a high degree of user-friendliness and flexibility to meet customer needs, mainly to produce diverse processes and small quantities. Equipped with a sophisticated software package that makes extensive and efficient material management possible, Essemtec’s high-tech solution can be adjusted quickly and easily to meet wide-ranging requirements, particularly in high-mix-low-volume production environments.

Based in the cantons of the Lucerne Lake Valley, Essemtec will remain at its development and production site in the city of Aesch and continue to expand. Scientists, engineers, and other team members will continue to be led by the present management crew, supported by Nano Dimension Chief Operating Officer (COO) Ziki Peled.

Future PCB production with huge digital inventory can provide on-demand high-mix, low-volume manufacturing.

Future PCB production with huge digital inventory can provide on-demand high-mix, low-volume manufacturing. Image courtesy of Nano Dimension.

Commenting on the deal, Essemtec CEO Franz-Xaver Strueby described the exciting combination of two technology brands as an “enormous influence and transformational momentum in the world of 3D printed electronics and assembly.”

One of the main targets will be merging Nano Dimension’s micro-electronic 3D fabrication machines for Hi-Performance Electronic Devices, or Hi-PEDs, with Essemtec’s fuller suite of in-fabrication-process-equipment-assembly capabilities. Hi-PEDs are integral enablers of autonomous intelligent drones, cars, satellites, smartphones, and in vivo medical devices and cannot be produced using traditional PCB manufacturing processes. That’s where Nano Dimension’s flagship 3D printer, the DragonFly LDM, comes in.

Equipped with two printheads, one for nano-Silver conductive ink and the other for dielectric polymer ink, DragonFly LDM can print with both advanced inks in a single print job and produce custom Hi-PEDs. Company management considers Essemtec’s products will fit Nano Dimension’s PCB and PCB assembly markets, as well as the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) verticals perfectly.

Fully Integrated Line Solutions and Highly Flexible Cell Solutions.

Fully Integrated Line Solutions and Highly Flexible Cell Solutions. Image courtesy of Nano Dimension.

With this new addition, Nano Dimension has now acquired three companies in 2021, following the purchase of micro 3D printer manufacturer Nanofabrica and deep learning pioneer DeepCube last April. Currently, Nano Dimension CEO and chairman Yoav Stern wants to “use our newly acquired deep learning-based artificial intelligence technologies from our DeepCube acquisition to become the ‘robotic brains’ for Essemtec systems.” Stern said he expects this will improve yield and throughput and drive a more seamless integration with Nano Dimension’s AME systems.

Essemtec’s machines fit the larger picture of Nano Dimension’s vision, aiming to establish Industry 4.0 solutions, which entail building an artificial intelligence “distributed digital manufacturing application” rather than just machines as capital equipment.

“The end goal is to reach a capability for maintaining an inventory of high-end PCB devices, micro-mechanical parts, and Hi-PEDs in digital form; print and assemble them as needed, where needed, only the quantity needed, in the best quality at competitive prices, as it is done in highest yield and throughput possible for that point in time, specifically in high mix/low volume scenarios,” highlighted Stern.

With a valuation of $1.55 billion, Nano Dimension’s latest acquisition could add annual revenue of $17.2, with gross margins of 60%, to the business’s reported annual revenue, which is estimated at roughly $3.7 million.

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