GE buys two 3D printing companies at $1.4 billion
On Tuesday, General Electric announced that it would spend $1.4 billion (~£1 billion) to acquire two European 3D printing companies—Arcam AB from Sweden and SLM Solutions Group from Germany. According to the Associated Press, GE spent $1.5 billion (~£1.1 billion) on 3D printing investments since 2010, meaning the acquisitions will double what the company has invested in the last five years.
In a press release, GE noted that Arcam “invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing and also produces advanced metal powders.” SLM Solutions, on the other hand, “produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing.” Both companies have histories of doing business in the aerospace and healthcare industries, and SLM Solutions also has customers in the energy and automotive industries.
Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, GE’s CEO of Aviation David Joyce said that GE’s jet engine business has been the primary outlet for so-called additive manufacturing at the company, but it plans to use 3D printing more frequently in its power turbine and medical equipment businesses.
“GE said it expected to purchase about 1,000 new 3-D printing machines over the next decade,” the WSJ notes. “By bringing the two firms in-house, GE says it could cut costs by $3 billion to $5 billion across the company, since the technology could reduce design and material costs.” Eventually, GE could potentially become a supplier of industrial 3D printing machines and materials with these acquisitions.
3D printing is favored in certain kinds of industrial production—it can be used to create parts that are much lighter than molded or cast parts. At the same time, it can also take longer for a 3D printer to make parts than a more traditional process would take, meaning that many companies employ 3D printing at a prototyping stage but dispense with it for production-ready items. GE has said it hopes to make 3D printing faster by at least two to three times over the next few years, according to the WSJ.
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