US conglomerate General Electric has agreed to buy privately held German 3D printing firm Concept Laser for 549 million euros, it said after its bid for rival SLM Solutions failed.
GE and its competitors have begun to invest seriously in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, which produces parts with less work than traditional production methods, generates less scrap material and expands design possibilities.
The US group is initially buying 75 per cent of Lichtenfels-based Concept Laser, which specialises in metal additive manufacturing, with an agreement allowing it to take full ownership in a number of years.
GE abandoned its bid for SLM after activist investor Elliott Advisors, which owns 20 per cent of SLM, rejected its bid, making it harder for GE to reach its minimum acceptance threshold.
Concept Laser’s customer base is focused on the aerospace, medical and dental industries, and it also has a presence in the automotive and jewelry sectors, GE said. The company has more than 200 staff, including operations in Texas and China.
GE, which has spent about $1.5 billion on additive technology research, said it would invest “significantly” in Lichtenfels, which would become a new German centre for the group. Co-founder Frank Herzog will stay on as chief executive.
Herzog founded Concept Laser in 2000 and commercialised the first metal additive manufacturing machine in 2001. Over the past 16 years, Concept Laser has industrialised the technology with its patented LaserCUSING® process and remains at the forefront of the industry. Concept Laser has a comprehensive product offering ranging from small machines up to the machine with the world’s largest build envelope. The company’s machines with multi-laser technology are among the fastest and highest-quality laser melting machines in the world. Concept Laser has won multiple awards for innovation excellence in recent years and continues to invest heavily in customer centric technologies, including real time monitoring of the process through its QMmeltpool offering.