BASF announced yet another 3D printing deal, but this one is very significant.
The German company, which just happens to be the largest chemical company on the planet, just invested USD$25M in Belgium-based Materialise.
Previously, BASF has been developing a number of deals, partnerships and supply arrangements with a range of 3D printing companies and services. Our thought is that they intend to leverage their vast knowledge of materials throughout various portions of the 3D printing ecosystem.
Typically their deals allow a 3D print company to access not only a large catalog of well-proven materials, but also to work with BASF’s labs to custom develop materials specific for a variety of 3D printing situations. I’m really pumped for this in particular, because it truly means that 3D printing will, going forward, use materials that were specifically designed for 3D printing, and not merely re-using older common materials that were designed in other eras for other purposes.
But for Materialise this is significant.
And it is an investment, not merely a partnership or agreement to use their materials products. This means that BASF now owns a chunk of Materialise.
But how big is that chunk? Since Materialise is now a publicly traded company, we can do some arithmetic to figure it out. As of this writing, the market capitalization of Materialise, the value of all their outstanding shares added together, is listed at USD$625M. This means that BASF just purchased around 4% of Materialise.
I don’t think BASF “needs” to own a piece of Materialise. Instead I believe they’re doing this move to cement and deepen a supplier relationship where they can have a more solidified point of delivery for their products.
Indeed, Volker Hammes, Managing Director of BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH says in the press release:
Our two companies’ business areas complement each other very well and our cooperation will put us in an even better position to find and develop new business opportunities. The partners intend to accelerate the development of innovative applications and new materials. “With its 3D printer facilities in Leuven and innovative software solutions, Materialise has an outstanding infrastructure. Together, we can exploit our strengths even better to advance the 3D printing sector through the development of new products and technologies together with our partners and our customers.
And Materialise’s CEO, Fried Vancraen adds:
To increase the adoption of 3D printing as a complementary manufacturing technology for final products, our industrial customers increasingly demand more control, more choice and ultimately lower cost. We are confident that this collaboration with a leading manufacturer of materials will help to accelerate the adoption of 3D-printing in existing vertical markets and create significant business opportunities in new markets.
This might be the most notable 3D print relationship BASF has yet made, as Materialise is a long-time supplier or services and software to the industry.
I’m wondering whether, a few years from now, other major chemical companies suddenly realize that BASF will have secured most of the 3D printing materials market? BASF obviously believes this industry will grow far larger than it current has.
Perhaps they know something the other chemical companies don’t.