G.E. Acquires Two 3D-Printer Companies for $1.4 Billion

GE 3d printing

Operating a machine at a G.E. plant in South Carolina that uses 3-D printing technology to create gas turbine parts

General Electric of Boston, Massachusetts, reported today that it has purchased two European 3D additive-printers makers for a combined $1.4 billion as the company seeks to expand further into 3D printing.

The two 3D-printer makers are Arcam of Sweden and SLM Solutions Group of Germany. Since, 2010, General Electric says it’s invested $1.5 billion in manufacturing and 3D printing technology.

“Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company,” said GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt in a news release.

If GE acquires both companies, the companies  will report to David Joyce, president & CEO of GE Aviation. Joyce will lead the growth of these businesses in the additive 3D-printing manufacturing equipment and services industry.

“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 GE CEO Immelt. “Additive manufacturing will drive new levels of productivity for GE, our customers, including a wide array of additive manufacturing customers, and for the industrial world.”

GE expects to grow the new additive business to $1 billion by 2020 at “attractive returns.”

Arcam AB, 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 with approximately 285 employees. Arcam also 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 Group, based in Lübeck, Germany, produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing with customers in the aerospace, energy, healthcare, and automotive industries. SLM generated $74 million in revenues in 2015 with 260 employees. SLM also has sales and application sites worldwide.

The additive 3D-printing effort will use GE’s resources, but will be centered in Europe. GE will maintain the headquarters locations and key operating locations of Arcam and SLM, as well as retain their management teams and employees.

Additive manufacturing (also called 3D printing) involves taking digital designs from computer aided design (CAD) software, and lays down horizontal cross-sections to manufacture the part. GE says that additive components are typically lighter and more durable than traditionally manufactured parts because they require less welding and machining. It says that because additive parts are essentially “grown” from the ground up, they generate far less scrap material.

In July, GE Aviation introduced into airline service its first additive-produced jet-engine component – complex fuel nozzle interiors – with the LEAP jet engine. GE says the LEAP engine is the new, best-selling engine from CFM International, a 50/50 joint company of GE and Safran Aircraft Engines of France. More than 11,000 LEAP engines are on order with up to 20 fuel nozzles in every engine.

GE says its will increase production to more than 40,000 fuel nozzles using additive 3D-printing by 2020. GE Aviation is also using additive manufacturing to produce components in its most advanced military engines. In the general-aviation world, GE is also developing the Advanced Turboprop Engine (ATP) for a new Cessna aircraft with a significant portion of the entire engine produced using additive manufacturing.

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