We’ve received word that German RepRap has been acquired, and there’s an interesting twist to the story.
German RepRap began quite a few years ago by producing RepRap-style 3D printing equipment, and they were a regional success. From there they gradually expanded the capability of their offerings to include larger format 3D printers, such as their x400, x500 and x1000 devices.
Most interestingly they developed a silicone 3D printer using a process they call “LAM”, for “Liquid Additive Manufacturing”. This process enabled the production of complex silicone structures far beyond the capabilities of traditional industry.
It seemed the company developed the LAM system as an experiment, but after revealing it to the world they were besieged with orders and quickly had to shift from beta testing to production. It seems there was an unmet demand for silicone devices.
But today we learned that the company has been entirely acquired. The press release says:
“The notarised signing of the purchase contract on 12 February 2020 officially confirmed the takeover of German RepRap GmbH, based in Feldkirchen, by the entrepreneurial families Hehl und Keinath.”
Here’s the twist: Hehl and Keinath also own ARBURG!
ARBURG is a 90+ year old company based in Germany that currently has annual revenue exceeding US$800M and 3,000 staff. Their main product is injection molding equipment, but they also provide services, consulting and even turnkey operations.
And they also build 3D printers.
These devices use a rather different 3D printing process they call “ARBURG Plastic Freeforming” (APF). APF essentially deposits droplets of thermoplastic material successively to form layers of a solid object.
Now these two companies are associated with each other. It is entirely unclear what kind of relationship will exist between the two, but there are some possibilities.
German RepRap could be simply absorbed into ARBURG and their equipment could be relabeled as new ARBURG products.
The two companies could continue working independently as they do today.
There could be leveraging of sales forces where the two sales forces sell each other’s products.
There may be sharing of technology; for example, ARBURG might develop a LAM-based device.
ARBURG is much larger than German RepRap, and they could decide to fund a large expansion of the smaller company.
We won’t know what will happen until further developments are announced, but we’re going to keep watch on this one.