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3D Systems Buys Two Extrusion 3D Printing Companies to Become AM Leader

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Pioneer additive manufacturing (AM) firm 3D Systems (NYSE: DDD) announced the acquisition of two 3D printer manufacturers, which sheds some light on 3D Systems’ long-term plan to become a leading force in healthcare and large-format additive manufacturing (AM). The AM giant has entered into an agreement to acquire German medical 3D printer manufacturer Kumovis and industrial 3D printer manufacturer Titan Robotics. Both companies make innovative tools for the 3D printing world, complementing 3D Systems’ current hardware portfolio.

3D Systems anatomical model for reconstruction.

3D Systems anatomical model for reconstruction. Image courtesy of 3D Systems.

Since the 1990s, 3D Systems’ technology was first used for medical purposes to create dental implants and custom prosthetics, making a huge push into the world of healthcare. That was a good call, as the company today provides surgical planning, implants, instrumentation, and medical education solutions to help medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers accelerate innovation and transform healthcare.

Having produced more than two million medical devices for more than 140,000 patients, the company is an experienced leader in medical applications. Moreover, as we have seen in 3D Systems’ earnings reports in the last few years, the segment is quickly becoming a meaningful contributor to its revenue. To help propel this segment even further, 3D Systems will soon incorporate the unique “integrated clean room” printing technology manufactured by Kumovis.

Kumovis cranial implant.

Kumovis cranial implant. Image courtesy of Kumovis.

Founded at the end of 2017, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) spin-out has already launched its first 3D printer specially designed for polymer medical devices. It recently raised €3.6 million (US$4.1 million) in a Series A funding round. As an AM solutions provider for personalized healthcare applications, Kumovis builds machines mainly developed for precision printing of medical-grade, high-performance polymers such as polyether ether ketone (PEEK).

With a regulatory clearance expected for 2022 and the new takeover by 3D Systems, Kumovis’ vision of creating point-of-care production sites where surgeons can access on-demand, in-situ production of customized medical devices could be happening soon. The move will expand 3D Systems’ addressable market for personalized healthcare solutions. 3D Systems CEO Jeffrey Graves assured the public that Kumovis’s PEEK-based offerings would be brought to market much quicker thanks to the firm’s established channel partners and proven ability to deliver regulatory-approved, implantable 3D printed medical devices to surgeons around the world.

Commenting on the deal, Kumovis co-founder and co-CEO Stefan Leonhardt added that “by joining forces with 3D Systems, we will be able to combine their outstanding solutions with our unique PEEK printing technology to offer efficient, validated end-to-end workflows to produce personalized implants and improve patient outcomes. We look forward to increasing the focus on our core competencies to help accelerate the development of the next generation of implants and transform medical device manufacturing.”

With its flagship R1 3D printer, Kumovis enables the medical community to process high-performance materials such as PEEK and bioresorbable polymers in a reproducible and regulatory-compliant way. The new system uses Fused Layer Manufacturing (FLM) technology and is designed to provide a solution for manufacturing patient-specific medical devices, focusing on functional parts like implants or instruments. Even more so, as reported over a year ago, Kumovis was already working with end-users and material providers to optimize the entire process for specific applications as well as collaborating with hospitals in Germany, 3D printing, and testing new implants.

Kumovis R1 3D printer.

Kumovis R1 3D printer. Image courtesy of Kumovis.

The second addition to 3D Systems’ portfolio is Titan Robotics. Based in Colorado, the company specializes in large-scale production 3D printing equipment, particularly pellet extrusion systems. Several months ago, it launched its new Atlas-HS machine, the latest addition to its Atlas 3D printer line since the release of the heavy-duty Atlas 3.6 at Formnext in November 2020. Its unique extrusion technology is expected to address critical customer production applications that require large build volumes. These machines complement 3D Systems’ broad polymer technology portfolio, opening significant new market opportunities, such as foundries, consumer goods, service bureaus, transportation, and motorsports.

Titan Robotics uniquely offers hybrid tool head configurations, including pellet extrusion, filament extrusion, and a spindle tool head for precision finishing. These configurable systems give customers tremendous flexibility to choose the best-combined format to meet their application needs and realize potential cost savings of up to 75%. The results are large, industrial parts that will help 3D Systems expand the strength and breadth of its polymer AM solutions technologies.

Atlas 3D pritner.

Atlas 3D printer. Image courtesy of Titan Robotics.

With a combination of fast production, short cycle times, and lower costs, Titan Robotics solutions are considered ideal for a variety of applications, including sand casting; tooling, such as sheet metal forming and composite tooling; jigs and fixtures for assembly and manufacturing operations, and end-use parts applications like for high-temperature requirements, such as air ducts.

It will be interesting to see if 3D Systems’ reported high-speed fusion 3D printing technology, to have been developed with Jabil, will be integrated into the products of these acquisitions. Another possibility is that its work with the contract manufacturer hasn’t panned out, resulting in the need to bring these other firms in-house. If the work with Jabil is progressing, however, 3D Systems may be making quick moves onto the turf of its nearest competitor, Stratasys. Stratasys has made numerous acquisitions as of late that expand its hardware portfolio significantly.

We will learn more about these latest additions during 3D Systems’ upcoming earnings call on February 28, 2022, following the full year 2021 earnings report release. However, both companies are set to close the deal with 3D Systems in April 2022, at which time both technologies and teams will become part of the South Carolina 3D printing giant.

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