Petrochemical multinational Braskem, the largest producer of polyolefins in the Americas, announced that the company has acquired taulman3D, an additive manufacturing (AM) materials company based in Indiana, USA. Among other products, Taulman3D created Nylon 618, the first nylon material designed specifically for AM applications, released in 2012.
Braskem launched its first line of AM filaments in April 2020. Since then, the company has added 14 more AM polymers to its product line, including resin pellets and powders. Most recently, Braskem released three filaments developed with sustainability as a primary objective: a bio-based ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), and two recycled polyethylene and polypropylene (PE/PP) blends.
In addition to a mutual focus on nylon, Braskem’s strategic emphasis on recycled material supply chains makes taulman3D a logical choice for an acquisition, as the latter company also manufactures a PETG filament that is 100 percent recycled. It is notable that Braskem seems to be repeating the same sustainability strategy in its AM portfolio that it started building up in its legacy operations over a decade ago.
The key development to watch for here could be how taulman3D’s entry into the Braskem fold affects the latter’s recently launched, direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform, Braskem3D. This is something that taulman3D already has extensive experience with, so it’s a perfect opportunity for the two companies to synergize their respective strengths. It’s worth pointing out that taulman3D has far more to bring to the table on this front than Braskem does.
More broadly, this is also a perfect opportunity for the industry’s observers to gauge the potential for small but proven AM entities to assimilate successfully into large-scale corporate environments. Along those lines, take note of the fact that Meta’s acquisition of Luxexcel was one of the last 3D printing stories of 2022, and this is one of the first of 2023.
That could simply be coincidental, but it could also be a harbinger of the AM sector’s trajectory over the next few years. In a buyer’s market, it will be much easier — and cheaper, which in business amounts to the same thing — for risk-averse corporate behemoths to acquire existing companies and transform into AM bureaus, than it would be to grow their own in-house AM operations organically.
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