In a move that will create one of the biggest commercial 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) service bureaus, Stratasys will buy Solid Concepts and Harvest Technologies and combine them with its RedEye service business. The collective capacity, facilities, and expertise in the new business unit will make it an industry-leading part service, Stratasys says, housing most of the available AM technologies and materials in facilities around the world.
Stratasys's intent is to expand its capabilities, capacity, and process expertise in manufacturing and end-use part production. Jim Bartel, RedEye's vice president and general manager, told us that's the direction where the company sees 3D printing and AM moving. The new business unit will push Stratasys in this direction toward the manufacturing environment. Stratasys's Jeff DeGrange has written before about the shift to end production in the aerospace industry, including in feature article for us last fall.
Stratasys said last week that it has entered definitive agreements for the acquisitions. Once the transactions are approved and the operations are combined, Solid Concepts' president, Joe Allison, will oversee the business. Bartel told us this makee sense because Allison's business is the largest of the three. He will be supported by Bartel and Harvest Technologies' president, David Leigh.
Solid Concepts, founded in 1991, is also the largest dedicated AM and rapid prototyping provider in North America, according to a press release last week announcing its new 3D scanning services. Its application areas include manufacturing medical devices and equipment, aerospace parts, UAV components, automotive prototyping, and firearm manufacturing.
Harvest Technologies, founded in 1995, focuses on end-use manufacturing and prototyping for several industries, including high-quality, low- and medium-volume production end parts for aerospace. It was the first US additive manufacturer to receive AS9100/ISO 9001 certification. It's also the only one to be certified in the US for producing parts and assemblies for military and commercial aircraft.
Users of the new services will have access to a combination of multiple AM technologies under one roof, Bartel said. These include selective laser sintering with plastics, stereolithography, direct metal laser laser sintering, and Stratasys' Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). "They'll also have access to a combination of decades of expertise from the employees and engineers in all three companies, which will help to guide to the right technology and process for their project." All three companies have been making end-use parts using several different technologies. For example, RedEye has the largest group of Stratasys's FDM machines in the world, he said. All three companies also have expertise and capacity in several non-AM technologies, such as CNC machining, injection molding and tooling, investment casting, and cast urethanes.
The new business unit will also be able to move jobs between locations around the world to operate closer to its customers, Bartel said. Harvest Technologies' locations are primarily in the US, but Solid Concepts has been branching out with facilities in Brazil and the Asia/Pacific region. RedEye has several US facilities and others in Belgium, Turkey, Australia, and Shanghai.
This is welcome news. Stratasys is not alone in shifting its focus to end-production manufacturing. EOS announced a similar philosophy (which we discussed in December), accompanied by different moves. And 3D Systems has been using "3DPRINTING 2.0" as the label for a focus on functional end-part manufacturing for all users. Further integration with OEM manufacturing processes and a growing focus on end-use part production is the direction I think the majority of 3D printing and AM is headed.
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