Ericsson and Saab Fund Expansion of Swedish 3D Printing Consortium AMEXCI

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Additive Manufacturing Excellence for Industry (AMEXCI), an AM consortium based in Sweden and comprised of a dozen of the Nordic world’s largest industrial conglomerates, announced that it has initiated a new strategic expansion push, centered on the establishment of a new factory in Örebro, about two hours west of Stockholm. According to AMEXCI, in addition to Örebro’s status as a burgeoning advanced manufacturing hub, the choice of location was driven by the intention to increase collaboration between AMEXCI and Örebro University.

The investment in the new facility is headed by global leaders in wireless (Ericsson) and aerospace (Saab), as well as two other AMEXCI shareholders, holding company Foundation Asset Management (FAM) AB, and commercial vehicles manufacturer Scania. FAM AB is an investment arm of old money Swedish family the Wallenbergs that more or less controls Investor AB, a publicly traded holding company with major stakes in a range of corporations including AstraZeneca, Nasdaq, Inc., and most of the members of AMEXCI.

AMEXCI’s website notes that the impetus for the organization began in January, 2017, when Marcus “Husky” Wallenberg, a one-time Chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce, “invited key industrial stakeholders” to Stockholm for an AM seminar. By December, 2017, AMEXCI had been formed. Along with the principals already named, it is worth mentioning that Swedish-Swiss robotics giant ABB is also part of AMEXCI.

In a press release about AMEXCI’s expansion strategy built on the back of its planned AM factory, the CEO of Saab Group, Micael Johansson, said, “[AM] is of strategic importance for Saab and the number of applications in our product portfolio constantly grows. We see the AMEXCI expansion as a way to support our growth and to enable technology to increase our competitiveness.” Börje Ekholm. Ericsson’s CEO, said, “Expanding our AM capacity with AMEXCI is not just a strategic move, but a testament to our commitment to innovation and delivering superior products to our customers. The key to successfully embracing this transformative technology lies in the know-how we have diligently built together. This expertise empowers us to push boundaries, drive progress, and shape the future of manufacturing.”

I would imagine that, right now, American policymakers involved in attempting to streamline domestic manufacturing are finding out that one serious disadvantage to the US economy is that it’s not optimized to facilitate things like AMEXCI. For instance, compare AMEXCI to something like AM Forward, which, though rightly touted as a success, started five years after AMEXCI and has about half the number of members, most of whom are airplane manufacturers.

Of course, this follows from features of the US economy that, from other angles, are obviously advantages: above all, purchasing power and control over the regulatory regimes that shape global supply chains. That is a powerful factor to combine with the advantages afforded by smaller and more agile economies like Sweden, which does much to explain why Sweden and Finland have joined NATO, and foreshadows the way in which those nations will be incorporated into the US domestic manufacturing ecosystem.

In this sense, Ericsson could end up being the most critical element to both AMEXCI and to future trade relations between Sweden and the US. The company’s networking hardware is precisely what is required to integrate all the moving parts in projects embracing such a diverse group of industries. Notably, Ericsson recently announced a plan to build a $169 million smart manufacturing hub in Estonia, a country which has been a NATO member since 2004. The facility is expected to open in 2026, which for many reasons seems like an important year to keep in mind in terms of trying to anticipate inflection points between the first and second phases of Industry4.0’s scale-up.

Images courtesy of AMEXCI

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