BASF, the largest chemical company in the world, is deadly serious about their 3D print ambitions.
The company was one of the first large-scale chemical manufacturers to poke into the world of 3D printing some years ago and their presence has gradually grown to a very significant level.
Over the past few years, they have:
Acquired Innofil3D, a manufacturer of 3D printer filament
Partnered with several 3D printer manufacturers to jointly develop and market specialized 3D print materials, including BigRep, HP, Prodways, EVO-Tech and Essentium
Set up a new subsidiary whose sole purpose is to develop and market products for 3D printing
They now offer materials products for each and every style of 3D printing, including powders, filaments, and pellets.
But apparently they’re not done yet. Yesterday they announced the acquisition of two more 3D printer materials producers, ADVANC3D Materials of Hamburg, and Setup Performance SAS of Lyon. It seems that Setup Performance SAS was the key supplier of powders to ADVANC3D Materials, so really this appears to be a package deal.
Why acquire ADVANC3D Materials? I believe it’s because they are an interesting complementary service to BASF. While BASF has the capability and resources to make pretty much any kind of material, ADVANC3D Materials focuses on developing specialized, one of a kind materials on request by clients.
Their workflow is set up specifically to cater to this type of client, which is very different from a typical client who simply wants to buy a standard material.
I suspect that ADVANC3D Materials’ workflow is a lot more nimble than that of giant BASF, and thus the acquisition allows BASF to respond far more quickly to enquiries for new 3D printing materials.
Indeed, it is even possible that BASF may greatly amplify the work of ADVANC3D Materials as their prominence in the space will surely attract a lot more clientele.
BASF believes the acquisition of ADVANC3D Materials is analogous to their prior acquisition of Innofil3D, except that it focuses on powder materials rather than filaments. Dr. Dietmar Bender, Vice President Manufacturing & Technology at BASF New Business GmbH explains:
Following our acquisition of Innofil3D last year and the consequent strengthening of our market presence in plastic filaments for layer extrusion we are now in similar fashion expanding our market access in the area of powder bed fusion. The portfolio complements our existing range, being perfectly suited to products such as polyamide 11, polyamide 12 and polypropylene.
It was our understanding that ADVANC3D Materials did offer filament as per our quick snapshot of one of their tradeshow stands here, but that line of business likely will evaporate and be taken on by Innofil3D.
This appears to be a key piece in BASF’s strategy to enlarge their 3D printing presence: with their massive chemical and financial resources from the main company, they can now directly leverage them through these two critical subsidiaries.