GE bids $US 1.4 billion on two European metal 3D printing companies

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GE has announced its intention to buy SLM Solutions of Germany and Arcam of Sweden – both makers of industrial metal additive manufacturing machines – in what it is calling the next step on its way to becoming a digital industrial business.

AFP reports that the two European businesses – with revenues of $US 74 million and $US 68 million in 2015 respectively – would be added to GE’s aviation division.

Industry experts have mentioned GE’s announcement of 3D printed fuel nozzles in their LEAP engines as a key milestone in the development of additive manufacturing.

Jet engines had driven the company’s foray into additive manufacturing, said CEO of GE Aviation David Joyce, but had also been used in medical equipment and power turbines.

“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,” said GE CEO Jeff Immelt in a statement.

Through the acquisitions, it expects to lift its 3D printing revenues to $US 1 billion by 2020, notes Associated Press.

The company also said it expects to buy around 1,000 industrial AM units in the next decade. Owning the capability to make them itself would save between $US 3 billion and $US 5 billion.

The company began its AM push with GE Aviation’s acquisition of aerospace AM specialists Morris Technologies in 2012.

“Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company,” said Immelt in the statement.

“We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier.”