Siemens Energy (FWB: ENR) was already one of the biggest users and providers of metal 3D printing for mass production, powered by its Materials Solutions service bureau. Now, the company has further enhanced its additive manufacturing (AM) portfolio with an investment in a new joint venture called MakerVerse. The venture is meant to be a hub that links industrial clients with a network of certified AM suppliers for everything from prototyping to spare part production.
Based in Berlin, MakerVerse is set to launch in early mid-2022, initially offering 3D printing services and expanding to other manufacturing processes, such as CNC and injection molding in the future. In addition, it will offer instant quoting, automated manufacturing checks, supplier and quality management, and quality assurance.
The company was spun off from the former Gas and Power division of Siemens Group in 2020 before it launched an initial public offering soon after. With Siemens Energy AM facilities in Berlin, Germany, and Finspang, Sweden, as well as Materials Solutions branches in Worcester, UK, and Orlando, U.S., the company has one of the largest fleets of metal 3D printers globally. These are mostly made up of laser powder bed fusion systems, with which it relies on that fleet to produce gas turbine parts, such as combustion components and turbine vanes. It also uses AM to repair turbine blades and burner tips.
The company aims to use MakerVerse to not only serve new customers but also extend AM services to include new 3D printing technologies and materials, such as polymers. To establish the firm, Siemens partnered with ZEISS and financial/venture capital investors, such as 9.5 ventures. ZEISS is an optics and optoelectronics company with 7.5 billion euros annually across a range of markets, including semiconductor manufacturing, quality control, medical technology, and consumer goods. 9.5 Ventures was established in Antwerp, Belgium, in 2017 with a focus on co-investing with established corporations in innovative ventures.
Siemens Energy, the largest user of 3D printing in the oil and gas segment, has, therefore, evolved from a user of metal AM to a provider, and now it has become a service bureau network. With €27 billion in revenue as of 2019, the company is a giant compared to those with similar offerings.
Xometry, for instance, has annual revenues of $141 million as of 2020, while Protolabs (owner of Hubs) takes in $445.6 million per year (as of 2018). There are other contenders, such as GE, which has partnered with companies like Burloak for 3D printing services. We can also consider 3D printing service bureaus, but they don’t have the same network structure as MakerVerse is described to have.
The closest comparison might be BASF, which not only offers spare part 3D printing via its spin-off firm Replique but also 3D printing services through its subsidiary, Sculpteo. It is also the world’s largest chemical company, maintaining a similar history to Siemens as far as the first half of the 20th century goes, so it will be interesting to see how these two German giants face off. BASF specializes in polymers, and Siemens is focused on metals, for now. Will they or some other large player attempt to acquire other leading service bureaus, such as Materialise, with whom BASF has invested, or Shapeways, with whom BASF has partnered? Or, perhaps, they will be friendly foes that work alongside one another. Regardless, Siemens is shaping up to be one of the most powerful companies in the 3D printing industry, if it wasn’t already.
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