Additive manufacturing company Desktop Metal acquires fellow industrial 3D printing machine maker ExOne. It’s the third acquisition by Desktop Metal in 2021. Details and context.
The pandemic had a disruptive impact on digital transformation efforts in the manufacturing sector. As supply chains were interrupted and priorities shifted, investments in ‘new’ technologies slowed down. According to research, overall enterprise spend for Industry 4.0 and Industrial IoT initiatives remained relatively steady, but the dip in growth was evident.
One of the ‘technologies’ that is often mentioned in the context of Industry 4.0 is additive manufacturing or 3D printing. Like many other industrial segments, the additive manufacturing (AM) market grew slower in 2020 per the 2021 edition of the well-known Wohlers Report as well.
The AM market in flux during and after the pandemic
Yet, at the same time, the 3D printing market never received as much attention in mainstream media as it did before.
We can’t think of many countries where AM companies didn’t start to design and manufacture goods to combat shortages of ample types of equipment, solve urgent challenges, or come up with innovative ideas that could be of use one way or the other. The activities of ‘makers’ (3D printing start-ups but also creative citizens and the ‘IoT maker’ community, to mention some) were remarkable – and still are.
Many prominent players in the AM market suffered while start-ups and smaller companies sometimes did surprisingly well. Unfortunately, often the latter’s initiatives remained unseen outside of their own countries, and it’s sheer impossible to make an overview.
While many – industrial – 3D printing machine vendors missed their forecast, Desktop Metal went public at the end of 2020. Since December 10, 2020, Desktop Metal trades on the New York Stock Exchange, making it the “only publicly traded pure-play Additive Manufacturing 2.0 company, offering the fastest metal 3D printing technology in the market”, as it stated.
Since going public, Desktop Metal announced several acquisitions, with the latest one being that of ExOne (The ExOne Company, listed on NASDAQ as XONE; ).
Desktop Metal and ExOne: two’ enemies’, destined to work together
The planned acquisition of ExOne (as mentioned in an article on the evolution of the metal AM market for several years, the only company to provide metal binder jetting systems) was announced during Desktop Metal’s earnings call in early August 2021.
Desktop Metal and ExOne entered into a definitive agreement whereby Desktop Metal will acquire all shares of ExOne common stock, with a total valuation of $575 million ($192 million in cash consideration and $383 million in share consideration).
Earlier in 2021, Desktop Metal already announced the acquisition of EnvisionTEC for $300 million (enabling it to enter the market for volume production polymer AM) and that of Aerosint, a Belgium-based pioneer in multi-material deposition systems for powder-based AM solutions.
In February 2021, ExOne was awarded a US DOD contract to “develop a fully operational, self-contained 3D printing factory housed in a shipping container” (3D ‘in the field’ indeed). In July, it opened a Metal 3D Printing Adoption Center at its European HQ in Germany.
Accelerating production metal AM adoption in a more competitive market
Commenting on the acquisition by Desktop Metal, ExOne CEO John Hartner stated: “We are excited to join forces with Desktop Metal to deliver a more sustainable future through our shared vision of additive manufacturing at high production volumes.”
Ric Fulop, Founder, and CEO of Desktop Metal, added: “We are thrilled to bring ExOne into the DM family to create the leading additive manufacturing portfolio for mass production,” emphasizing that the transaction is a big step in delivering on the vision of both companies accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing 2.0 (a term launched by Desktop Metal).
One of the seven founders of Desktop Metal, MIT professor Emanuel “Ely” Sachs is an early pioneer of 3D printing, and the inventor of binder jet printing.
Desktop Metal and ExOne thus far saw each other as main competitors. The acquisition (or is it a merger?) is seen as good news for the market, with HP and GE Additive as the more recent and robust competitors and a probable acceleration of production metal AM adoption.
In 2020, IDC released an IDC Innovators report with detailed profiles of four 3D metal printing players: Desktop Metal, ExOne, Rapidia, and Velo3D. IDC’s Tim Greene pointed out that the 3D metal printing market is seeing dynamic growth, not just on the level of adoption.
Top image: Desktop Metal Production System Array – source Desktop Metal Press Kits – other images property mentioned owners, links below pictures – for illustration purposes.