Germany-based 3D metal printer manufacturer Realizer was just acquired by DMG Mori AKTIENGESELLSCHAFT.
DMG Mori is one of Germany’s largest manufacturing of machine tools, and one of the oldest, having been founded in 1870, while Realizer is (well, was) one of the few remaining independent 3D metal printer manufacturers.
Realizer, founded in 1990, produces 3D metal printers that use the SLM process, in which layers of powdered metal are fused by powerful lasers into solid 3D objects.
The deal provides DMG Mori with 50.1% of the company, thus making them the controlling party in Realizer. It's also interesting in that DMG Mori has developed hybrid CNC - 3D metal printing machinery previously, so the synergies should be interesting.
It’s some level of news when a 3D printer manufacturer is acquired by another company, but this one is notable for another reason: it continues the theme of 3D metal printer company acquisitions.
Earlier, GE acquired not one, but TWO well known 3D metal printer companies, Concept Laser and Sweden-based Arcam. Their sudden and surprising announcement put the metal printing world into a bit of a tizzy because it essentially validated that 3D metal printing is “a thing”. If GE is buying it, it must be real.
Thereafter there’s been much speculation on how this is going to play out. It appears that at this point the major players realize that 3D metal printing is going to be highly applicable in a number of large industries, so it is in their interest to secure a source for equipment - and possibly materials as well.
If they don’t secure a partner that can supply the technology, they risk being locked out as the 3D metal printer companies are being slowly snapped up by their competitors.
Will they really be locked out? No one knows for sure, but the best practice in corporate risk avoidance will result in such acquisitions and partnerships.
There are now very few independent 3D metal printer manufacturers as a result of this corporate maneuver. Notables left include EOS, a family-owned private business that I suspect is not interested in selling; SLM Solutions, who courted with GE before the deal fell through when a minority of their shareholders objected to the takeover price; and a few others.
I suspect the asking price for the remaining companies could be rising as a result of the shortage.
As all this corporate stuff unfolds, there is another twist to the 3D metal printing saga: new entrants are appearing, some with very interesting technologies. These include XJET, the mysterious Desktop Metal company, a number of filament-based options and a few strange ones from left field.
And this is only what we can see publicly. There is no doubt there are some very interesting conversations occurring behind the scenes. Expect more to happen this year. Much more.