Nikon SLM Solutions to Manufacture NXG XII 600 Metal 3D Printer in the US

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Nikon SLM Solutions is going to produce the NXG XII 600 in the United States. This “Made in the USA” printer is sure to appeal to the US Air Force and various other defense-based initiatives in the US. The US defense establishment is quietly becoming the largest funder of research into 3D printing and is now showing itself as a major future customer as well. The New Space crowd in Long Beach, California is also likely to appreciate Nikon making the NXG in the US, close to them. The NXG system is large and perfect for applications such as hypersonics, warheads, and space propulsion systems. Those components can benefit from its multiple lasers and large build volume to get optimal parts built in Inconel, copper, and the like.

The factory will be in South Carolina, and the company is looking beyond defense and space at other industries such as automotive and energy. The company also says that it can ensure faster delivery times and better customer support. However, the big rationale, of course, is the Department of Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement, §§ 225.872-1(a), 225.003, and the Trade Agreements Act. Compliance with these regulations will lead to more US DOD and other government sales.

“Establishing the production of the NXG XII 600 in the United States, allows us to better support our North American customers by providing them with locally produced, high-quality additive manufacturing systems. Our commitment to innovation and excellence is reflected in this expansion, and we are excited about the opportunities it brings to our industry,” stated Charlie Grace, CCO at Nikon SLM Solutions.

At the same time, this explains many recent moves by SLM Solutions. The team recently announced that Nneji Kemakolam would head up a US-based engineering team. The 3D printing design and engineering veteran will become the Vice President of Engineering for the United States and support US customers. Earlier, they announced the appointment of Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as an advisor. Mullen, an admiral who commanded naval operations and ships worldwide, is a principled Navy man who significantly contributed to equality, progress, and precise warfighting in a politically fractured world. The company also appointed former professor and 3D Systems CTO Brent Stucker as their Chief Engineer of North America, which I think is the best title ever. The company is therefore not only opening a US office but also assembling some incredible US talent.

Earlier, the firm sold two NXG XII 600 systems with a higher 1.5-meter Z-axis to the US via contractor CTC. I’m guessing whatever hypersonics propulsion gizmo they were making with those ended up working. This is a huge bet by Nikon on the US and the US government in general. The NXG architecture and installed base in Long Beach and beyond have pushed it squarely into the arms of New Space and the US government. The payoff could be huge. The number of components the US could possibly order is vast. Propulsion units for space are already backordered in their thousands at the moment. That is a multi-billion-dollar opportunity for the firm, dwarfing anything else the company may be doing in cameras and other areas. Nikon’s revenue declined from $11 billion to $4 billion from 2010 to 2023, while operating income has evaporated over the period. The company essentially bet its future on SLM and 3D printing three years ago. We think of Nikon as being much bigger, but the audacity and bravery needed to do this must have been phenomenal. It is therefore completely logical that the firm is now setting up a production facility in the US. This is another bold move by the firm, but a perfectly logical one.

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