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General Electric agreed to buy two of the world’s top 3D-printing companies for a total of $1.4 billion on Tuesday to push forward its manufacturing process for aircraft parts.
GE bought German-based SLM Solutions, which makes laser machines for metal-based 3D printing for aerospace and automotive companies, for a total of $762 million. It also bought Swedish company Arcam, which specializes in metal-based 3D printing, selling mainly to the aerospace and healthcare industries, for a total of $685 million.
This is not GE’s first foray into 3D printing. GE acquired 3D-printing specialists Morris Technologies in 2012, and uses 3D printing to make fuel nozzles for its new LEAP jet engine.
While GE’s Aviation unit has so far been the most active in using the 3D printing technology, parts are also being designed in its Power, Oil & Gas and Healthcare units, as well as across GE’s services businesses.
SLM Solutions shares rose 38.9 per cent to 38.61 euros in Frankfurt at 1001 GMT, while Arcam rose 53 per cent to 285 crowns.
“GE shows its commitment regarding the industrial use of 3D technology and mass implementation of this technology in industrial production,” Equinet analyst Cengiz Sen said a research note.
Arcam’s and SLM’s technologies complement each other as Arcam uses an electron beam as an energy source, while SLM uses lasers.
3D-printing technology involves taking digital designs from computer aided design software, and laying horizontal cross-sections to manufacture the part.
Since parts are built from the ground up, one of the big benefits is that it generates far less scrap metal than in traditional manufacturing.
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(Additional reporting by Oskar von Bahr; Editing by Mark Potter and Susan Thomas; Danielle Muoio contributed to this report.)