AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

Austrian Ceramic 3D Printer OEM Lithoz Reports Strongest First Half Ever

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Over the past year, companies in the additive manufacturing (AM) sector seem to have endured a longer slog through dismal financial territory than the one faced by companies in all the other underwhelming tech sectors. That state-of-affairs seems to have at least temporarily subsided for some firms, with multiple AM original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) reporting surprisingly strong earnings, for the first half of 2022 in general, as well as Q2 more specifically.

The latest company in the sector to announce an impressive year-to-date (YTD) financial performance is Lithoz GmbH, a producer of both ceramic 3D printers and materials for ceramic 3D printing. The Vienna, Austria-based firm announced this week the best first half financial performance for any fiscal year since the company’s founding, in 2011.

In a press release, co-founder and CEO of Lithoz, Dr. Johannes Homa, commented, “This continuous strong order intake shows that it has been another year of success thanks to lots of hard work and cooperation — not only within our own team, but also with our partners and customers. We can already see our vision of establishing ceramic 3D printing as a powerful manufacturing technique for every application becoming reality!”

It is perhaps only a slight exaggeration to suggest that ceramic 3D printing could be used for “every” manufacturing application. Largely, the technology’s versatility follows from the multifaceted nature of the underlying material involved.

From a less technical perspective, ceramics are still probably most often thought of in terms of the millennia-old process centered around firing clay objects in a kiln. While the contemporary technology still more or less resembles a digital version of that process, the materials used in advanced industrial ceramic applications go far beyond earthenware. Regarding Lithoz, in addition to more traditionally-defined ceramics, the company’s machines are also compatible with ceramic slurries made from metals or polymers.

Thus, Lithoz’s signature Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) method facilitates the ability to print objects for a variety of sectors using the same platform, as well as the ability to print different materials with a single machine. Given that, if the popularity of ceramic printing continues to grow, the technology’s sheer versatility could eventually lead to ceramic printers becoming the platforms of choice for service bureaus.

Finally, I would imagine that most people would be surprised to learn that OPEC is headquartered in Vienna, given that Austria is not one of the cartel’s member states. Nevertheless, several significant oil and gas firms are located in the nation, including OMV, one of the top 400 companies on the 2022 Forbes Global 2000. Across the board, ceramic applications seem ideal for energy-related fields, and more specifically, owing to their resistance to corrosion, ceramic materials are optimal for oil and gas applications. Thus, Lithoz seems well-positioned to start gaining more customers in the oil and gas sector, and spinoff segments, like petrochemicals. In turn, that could be a sign of where ceramic OEMs in general are headed.

Images courtesy of Lithoz

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