The Strategist

General Electric to buy two European 3D printing companies for $ 1.4 billion

09/06/2016 - 14:39

Engineering company General Electric is planning to buy two European companies specializing in 3D-printing technology. The American company is going to use the two manufacturers to create parts of jet aircraft and automobile engines. GE expects to spend a total of about $ 1.4 billion on the transactions.

In particular, GE is ready to acquire Swedish Arcam, one of the American company's main partners in the past year, for $ 680 million. The Americans are also planning to buy German company SLM Solutions Group, specializing in laser processing of metals in the aerospace and aircraft industries.

GE expects to increase profitability of new business to $ 1 billion by 2020 by typing more than 100 thousand aircraft engine parts.

3D-printing technology, implementation of which began with devices for rapid prototyping, is gradually coming to other industries. One of the main advantages of the technology is a possibility to produce small quantities of parts of complex shape. Aircraft industry is one of those which always has demand for such orders. GE itself, for example, uses commercial 3D-press to manufacture fuel injectors of a new jet engine LEAP.

GE started discovering the new area with acquisition of Morris Technologies, specializes in industrial 3D-printing, in 2012. The direction was considered promising -  the American company predicts that it will generate $ 1 billion annually by 2020.
Arcam and SLM Solutions Companies complement each other by offering equipment that uses different sources of energy in the printing units. This is a stream of electrons in Arcam, and laser beams in the case of SLM Solutions. Equipment of the European manufacturers is particularly popular among companies working in the aircraft industry and medicine. Another advantage of the 3D-printing technology compared to conventional metal working is almost complete absence of waste.

IDC analytical company estimated that the world's spending on 3D printers will be rising on average by 27% per year in the next few years. It is expected that equipment and services associated with the three-dimensional printing will bring 26.7 billion US dollars in 2019, compared to about $ 1 billion in 2015. 

"3D-printing technology continues to evolve and expand in all directions", - says Tim Greene from IDC. According to the specialist, 3D printers can quickly build large models notable for improved accuracy and durability.

"A research on three-dimensional printing conducted by IDC indicates that the market of 3D-printers is ready for a wider development. There is a high interest in these technologies in many regions and sectors." -  adds Keith Kmetz, another IDC’s expert.

Analysts predict that the largest income in the field of three-dimensional printing will come from Asia-Pacific region, the US and Europe. In 2019, they are expected to account for 70% of spending in this area, against 59.2% in 2014. At that, China will lead the market of equipment and services for 3D-printing.

Earlier, IDC estimated that output of the printing equipment in China amounted to 77 thousand units in 2015, compared to 34 million units a year earlier. Thus, the market volume increased by more than 120%. According to the forecast, the growth rate will exceed 100% in 2016. This will help China to overtake the US in shipments of 3D-printers, and make the country a leader on this indicator. At the same time, the US market will still remain the largest in terms of revenue due to growing share of 3D printers for manufacturing sector.