In one of the latest moves in the 3D printing industry, the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) has acquired the French online media platform 3Dnatives. The move comes as the professional organization seeks to expand its expertise in 3D printing.
Commenting on the deal, SPE CEO Patrick Farrey said, “There is a natural similarity between the work of SPE and of 3Dnatives. Both publish the most up-to-date technical information for professionals in the plastics and additive manufacturing industries. Joining with 3Dnatives expands SPE’s expertise in these growing markets and gives our members unprecedented access to the science and technologies they need to know.”
Headquartered in Paris, 3Dnatives’ origins span back to 2013 when Marc Pfohl and Alexandre Martel launched the business, intending to drive interest into a then-nascent segment. Over the years, it has become one of the top media platforms in the industry. Thanks to a team of more than 20 individuals, 3Dnatives gives users and visitors a vision of what additive manufacturing (AM) has to offer as one of the most disruptive fabrication processes.
Available in English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian, the site receives over 1.2 million visitors per month and offers a variety of services, such as a 3D printing price comparison engine, business-to-business (B2B) consulting, B2B brand content, and event management. In addition, the outlet offers plenty of tools for users, namely the 3D printer Comparator, featuring an array of professional and personal 3D printers; a complete business directory that includes more than 200 companies, manufacturers, and resellers; and job and event boards that feature all the latest positions available and 3D printing events.
Excited to be in Paris with my new @3Dnatives_en colleagues to celebrate this news…and to eat croissants! 🥐 Welcome to the @4SPE_Plastics team! @3Dnatives https://t.co/rvvWjThWxr pic.twitter.com/JyTz4E3LSJ
— Patrick Farrey (@PatrickFarrey) February 27, 2023
Although the transaction terms have yet to be released, 3Dnatives will retain its US, Brussels, and Paris offices. Furthermore, according to the companies, the new acquisition will help broaden SPE’s worldwide reach through daily industry news and distinct market-specific platforms produced in five native languages.
Under its “ADDITIV” brand, 3Dnatives also produces online and in-person events dedicated to 3D printing and its applications. In 2023, these events will mainly focus on AM in the medical, automotive, and aerospace sectors. A few of the company’s recent events included over 200 expert speakers from top-tier companies, including L’Oréal, Audi, NASA, and Boeing, with over 15,000 attendees overall.
“SPE’s well-established leadership in producing technical information for plastics and manufacturing professionals will be a great asset, as 3Dnatives continues to serve more than six million 3D printing and additive manufacturing professionals across the globe every year,” highlighted Alexandre Martel, CEO and founder of 3Dnatives. “Together, we look forward to reaching even more markets, with original content produced specifically for each country in their native language.”
Overall, this acquisition highlights a great deal of activity in the media, analysis, and events space. In addition to 3DR Holdings’ own purchase of SmarTech Analysis, Wohlers Associates was acquired by standards organization ASTM International and Xometry took on digital marketing sourcing provider Thomasnet.
Things in the events space have been complex since Formnext took the AM lead from Euromold. TCT linked up with RAPID and Formnext, which has been making inroads into the international 3D printing trade show market with Formnext USA taking place between AMUG and RAPID in April 2025. Meanwhile, the Association for Manufacturing Technologies’ IMTS will include a Formnext Forum in its 2024 iteration and has made Gardner Media its primary partner.
All of this is also indicative of the growth in the 3D printing sector, as well as its relevance in the current manufacturing environment. Reflecting this growth, market research firm SmarTech Analysis has helped shed light on the industry in its most recent quarterly market data. According to the information published in the report, the third quarter of 2022 was the fourth consecutive quarter in which the entire AM industry saw revenue exceeding $3 billion.
SPE pointed out that industrial 3D printing only accounts for about 0.1% of the $12.8 trillion global manufacturing economy, but it’s snowballing. Earlier this year, SmarTech estimated the total value of the AM market to be $10.6 billion. However, with the industry keeping up its growth rate, it’s expected to be worth over $12 billion sometime this decade.
As one of the first M&A deals of the year, the acquisition of 3Dnatives will help SPE provide a more robust service to its core stakeholders and professionals. Overall, the sector will benefit from a partnership that has set its goals set on driving interest in 3D printing.
Summing up the excitement about the acquisition, 3Dnatives Chief Business Officer (CBO) Filippos Voulpiotis said, “joining forces with an esteemed, well-established, and powerful organization like the Society of Plastics Engineers has been a dream for years. And now, after endless hard work, many many many life lessons, and an interesting cocktail of successes and failures, it has become a reality (…) Now, as we take this massive step in the manufacturing world, we are looking ahead to the many cool things we are preparing. Buckle up, people; the show is just getting started.”
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