In June of last year, Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) Chairman Scott Crump stated the company’s intent to further develop 3D printing with metals. In an article last year we highlighted 4 private companies that are involved in the 3D printing of metals; Optomec, EOS, SLM Solutions, and Concept Laser. Any of these four companies could be potential acquisition candidates for Stratasys in order to add 3D metal printing capabilities. There are 2 other private companies involved solely in the 3D printing of metals that Stratasys could look to acquire; Layerwise and Realizer.
Founded in 1990, German company Realizer began developing Selective Laser Melting (SLM)) technology for the production of components made of metallic materials. In 1997 the first patents were applied for and in 1999, the company delivered the world’s first SLM™ machine for metals. Since then Realizer has focused on the development and production of 3 SLM™ machines for the manufacture of metal workpieces; the SLM50, SLM100, and SLM200, each with increasingly larger build volumes. The SLM50 is a desktop machine that is specifically designed to print dental parts quickly and accurately:
In addition to dental parts, the SLM50 can also produce some remarkable gold jewelry. The below is a gold ring printed using the SLM50:
The Realizer line of machines can print using gold alloys, cobalt chrome, and stainless steel. Including the above mentioned applications, Realizer also markets their machines for use in vehicle parts, tools, prostheses and implants.
Founded in 2008, Belgium based LayerWise was spunout of the University of Leuven by Jonas Van Vaerenbergh and Peter Mercelis, both of whom were closely involved in the development of selective laser melting (SLM) at the university. Today, LayerWise continues to collaborate with the university, and systematically invests 30% of its resources in Research and Development of their SLM technology. Layerwise is a manufacturing service as opposed to a seller of machines. 90 percent of Layerwise turnover originates from serial production for series of up to 50,000 parts annually for the aerospace, industrial, medical and dental markets. Layerwise machines can print batches containing up to 10.000 pieces in stainless steel, tool steel, titanium, superalloy, and aluminium. In October 2013, Layerwise came eighth in the Deloitte Technology Fast50 Award with the founder stating this resulted from the 2856 percent turnover increase the Company has realized over the past five years.
Layerwise is known for printing a titanium total lower jaw implant reconstruction, the first time ever for this sort of implant to occur in a patient:
The artificial jaw was fabricated from titanium powder and weighed about 107 grams. The patient is now able to speak and function normally again.
All 6 of the private 3D metal printing companies mentioned in this article could prove to be viable acquisition candidates for not only Stratasys (NASDAQ:SSYS) but also the other two publicly traded 3D metal printing companies; ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE) and Arcam (OTCMKTS:AMAVF).