AMS Spring 2023

Bosch Buys Two SLM Solutions SLM500 Metal 3D Printers

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Bosch has bought two SLM500 powder bed fusion (PBF) metal 3D printers from SLM Solutions. One will be used at the company’s 3D-MPC Manufacturing and Processing Center to make powertrain components, “custom aluminium parts for hydrogen technology and electric drive” parts. Reportedly, the other may be used for parts for the company’s 3DPSPACE Startup.

Image inside a Bosch ceramic 3D printer. (Source: Bosch Advanced Ceramics)

“We are more than thrilled to partner with Bosch, a real technology powerhouse. They understand the revolutionary potential of additive manufacturing and trust the power and reliability of SLM Solutions systems. We are genuinely excited to support Bosch to accelerate the implementation of additive solutions across its entire portfolio of products and solutions,” said SLM Solutions CEO Sam O’Leary.

“A high OEE, a resilient machine design, and our good quality processes are the keys for AM-production,” said Dr Christina Bluemel Manager of the NuP1 3DP Manufacturing and Processing Center at Bosch.

Bosch’s 3D Printing Investments

Previously in AM, Bosch has built a ceramic microreactor, set up a ceramics 3D printing service, and invested in composites company Arris. Let’s not forget that Bosch also sells a 3D printer under its Dremel brand. I adore Bosch—seriously I love the company. It is a $93 billion technology behemoth that is understated while it employs over 400,000 people to make numerous car components, batteries for electric bicycles, video surveillance cameras, cordless drills, Gaggenau ovens, and more. The company is also perfectly poised to take advantage of 3D printing.

Bosch’s Rexroth division specializes in motion control, making some of the best steppers and linear rails in the industry. Its industrial hydraulics business could extensively use 3D printing to create more efficient parts with less mass. The company could extensively use 3D printing for its IoT and sensors business, as well. Bosch could produce lighter drivetrains and better batteries. The internal volume of its prototyping and bridge manufacturing operations must be immense as well. I am hard pressed to think of any businesses that could win as big as Bosch could by internally deploying 3D printing extensively. I can also not think of any industries outside of satellites, space, and aviation that can win this big by using 3D printing to improve their products.

Do you know these super cute, little hand sanders that Bosch makes? The manufacturer has slightly larger industrial versions, too.

A Big Win for SLM Solutions

This is a big win for SLM Solutions, especially since, if I remember correctly, Bosch used to run Concept Laser machines at the 3D-MPC Manufacturing and Processing Center. However, this company could singlehandedly buy SLM Solutions. Bosch is aggressive in R&D, developing new products, and expanding into new areas. It is not known for corporate adventurism or many silly missteps.

We can expect Bosch not to be very splashy with its money or corporate development. However, behind this conservatism and a willingness to forgo media opportunities lies a company that is relentless. Imagine an engineering challenge is like a tree. Bosch will put 100 people on it for a decade to solve that challenge, just sanding away until the tree is toothpicks and dust. Relentless. So, this is a great deal for SLM Solutions not just for the moment, but for the many more machines the company could acquire in the future.

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