General Electric to buy two European 3D printing firms for $1.4 bn

General Electric (GE) today struck a deal to buy two European 3D printing groups - Sweden's Arcam and Germany's SLM Solutions Group AG - for a total of $1.4 billion, in order to accelerate its pace in the digital industrial space.

Under the terms of the two deals, GE is paying €38 per share for SLM Solutions, or a total of €683 million ($762 million), and has already agreed to buy 31.5 per cent of shares from major shareholders, while it is paying 285 Swedish crowns per share, or a total of 5.86 billion Swedish crowns ($685 million) for Arcam.

GE said that it will acquire two suppliers of additive manufacturing equipment, Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group AG and both companies will report into David Joyce, president & CEO of GE Aviation.

GE expects to grow the new additive (also called 3D printing) business to $1 billion by 2020 at attractive returns and also expects $3-5 billion of product cost-out across the company over the next ten years.

Arcam, based in Mölndal, Sweden, invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing, and also produces advanced metal powders.

Its customers are in the aerospace and healthcare industries.  Arcam generated $68 million in revenues in 2015 and has around 285 employees.

In addition to its Sweden site, Arcam operates AP&C, a metal powders operation in Canada, and DiSanto Technology, a medical additive manufacturing firm in Connecticut, as well as sales and application sites worldwide. 

SLM Solutions produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing with customers in the aerospace, energy, healthcare, and automotive industries.

The Lübeck, Germany-based company generated $74 million in revenues in 2015 has 260 employees and apart from its operations in Germany, SLM has sales and application sites worldwide. 

''Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE's evolution into a digital industrial company. We are creating a more productive world with our innovative world-class machines, materials and software.  We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier,'' said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE.

GE has invested approximately $1.5 billion in manufacturing and additive technologies since 2010, which has helped it to develop additive applications across six of its businesses, create new services applications across the company, and earn 346 patents in powder metals alone.

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing involves taking digital designs from computer aided design (CAD) software, and laying horizontal cross-sections to manufacture the part.  Additive components are typically lighter and more durable than traditionally-manufactured parts because they require less welding and machining.

Because additive parts generate far less scrap material and since it is free from traditional manufacturing restrictions, additive manufacturing dramatically expands the design possibilities for engineers.