General Electric has launched offers to acquire two European makers of industrial 3-D printing machines for a combined $1.4 billion as it boosts its profile in additive manufacturing technology.
The equipment supplied by Sweden’s Arcam AB and Germany’s SLM Solutions Group AG take digital designs from computer aided design software and manufacture three-dimensional objects by adding successive layers of material.
GE has already invested more than $1.5 billion in the technology since 2010, using it to make fuel nozzles for engines powering new planes from Boeing and Airbus. The company has offered $762 million for SLM Solutions and $685 million for Arcam.
“Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company,” GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, adding that it “will drive new levels of productivity for GE, our customers, including a wide array of additive manufacturing customers, and for the industrial world.”
Additive components are typically lighter and more durable than traditionally-manufactured parts because they require less welding and machining. 3-D printing is also used in the production of dental crowns and medical implants.
Both Arcam, with $68 million in revenues in 2015, and SLM, with $74 million in revenues last year, are relatively small companies. But according to 3dPrint.com, they both have “extensive recognition in the field of metal additive manufacturing.”
Arcam invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing, while SLM produces “selective laser melting” machines for metal-based additive manufacturing with customers in the aerospace, energy, healthcare, and automotive industries. The German firm’s SLM 500 is the only quadruple laser printer on the market.
“The acquisition of these two companies builds [GE’s] portfolio quickly, allowing for a stronger foothold in the quickly expanding industry and leveraging the expertise of all three entities,” 3DPrint.com said.
GE expects to grow the new additive business to $1 billion by 2020. “Additive manufacturing fits GE’s business model to lead in technologies that leverage systems integration, material science, services and digital productivity,” said David Joyce, CEO of GE Aviation.