Is This A Turning Point For Consolidation In Additive Manufacturing?
202351 Sona Dadhania
In the past decade or so, the additive manufacturing industry has been characterized by an ever-increasing number of hardware players trying to capture their own share of the market. While there were signs of consolidation in the early 2010s, given major moves by industry leaders like Stratasys and 3D Systems, AM has instead seen a consistent stream of newcomers with their own innovative takes on AM, such that IDTechEx now segments their 3D printing hardware forecast by seventeen different categories to account for such diversity. New entrants in AM have also been bolstered by ever-increasing amounts of funding, with IDTechEx tracking over USD$1.3 billion in publicly announced investment in 3D printing-related companies in 2022 (up from over USD$950 million in 2021).
Such expansion in the 3D printing industry, which IDTechEx has covered for nearly a decade, has led to hundreds of companies being featured in IDTechEx's "3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2023-2033: Technology and Market Outlook" report. The report features granular 10-year market forecasts with 17 hardware and 10 material segments, technology analyses, benchmarking studies on AM hardware and materials, and market discussions that look at the future of the 3D printing industry, forecast by IDTechEx to hit US$41 billion in 2033. Part of this discussion looked at the high number of new players and technologies entering AM, which showed that AM space wasn't yet consolidating to a small group of major players - rather, it was growing.
But that may change with this latest major news announcement. Two 3D printing industry titans, Stratasys and Desktop Metal, announced their merger on May 25th, 2023, marking a significant milestone in the additive manufacturing industry. The two companies struck an all-stock deal that values the combined company at USD$1.8 billion, expected to close in Q4 2023. Subject to final approvals, Stratasys shareholders are expected to own 59% of the combined entity, with Desktop Metal shareholders owning the other 41%.
In the past few years, both Stratasys and Desktop Metal have engaged significantly in M&A. The latter has acquired half a dozen companies, including ExOne and EnvisionTEC, to grow their technology portfolio well beyond metal additive manufacturing to include polymers, ceramics, and composites. The former, strictly in the polymer space, has added three polymer technologies with their 2021 acquisitions of Xaar 3D, Origin, and RPS, and additionally expanded their polymer materials portfolio with the 2022 acquisition of Covestro's AM business unit (itself formed from Covestro's acquisition of DSM's Resins and Functional Materials business).
However, this merger, which has been in the works for the past year, is by far the biggest transaction that Desktop Metal and Stratasys have undertaken in recent years - it's arguably one of the most significant mergers ever in the 3D printing space. Desktop Metal CEO and Chairman, Ric Fulop, stated, "We believe this is a landmark moment for the additive manufacturing industry. The combination of these two great companies marks a turning point in driving the next phase of additive manufacturing for mass production. We are excited to complement our portfolio of production metal, sand, ceramic and dental 3D printing solutions with Stratasys' polymer offerings. Together, we will strive to build an even more resilient offering with a diversified customer base across industries and applications to drive long-term sustainable growth. We look forward to combining with Stratasys to deliver profitability while driving further innovation for a larger customer base and providing expanded opportunities for our employees."
The diversity of the combined company's technology portfolio is one of the most significant results of the merger, putting them in direct competition against other AM hardware providers that offer both metal and polymer printers, such as 3D Systems and EOS. Desktop Metal and Stratasys will offer eight different additive technologies once merged, covering polymer, metal, ceramic, composite, wood, and sand materials.
"I'm excited about the technical synergies," Fulop commented. "They're significant. This merger will drive accelerated innovation. We have materials that will push PolyJet into mass production. We have synergies on software and go-to-market, we have 7,000 customers that will be introduced to a distribution network much larger than ours. This is a fantastic combination. I can't imagine a better partnership."
With such a major merger underway, it does beg the question of whether this is a turning point for additive manufacturing. Even as this article was being published, further news broke of 3D Systems making an offer to acquire Stratasys. In a press release, 3D Systems stated that both companies and shareholders would benefit more than they would with a merger between Stratasys and Desktop Metal. President and CEO of 3D Systems, Dr. Jeffery Graves, commented, "We are at an inflection point in our industry, and we see significant upside for our shareholders and all stakeholders by capturing the benefits of scale, enhancing investment in innovation and delivering long-term profitable growth."
Unlike the Stratasys-Desktop Metal merger, this proposed merger would bring together two entities that have multiple shared technologies, an overlap which increased even more after their numerous acquisitions in 2021 and 2022. This offer, after multiple offers by Nano Dimension to also acquire Stratasys, provides yet another possibility for what the top of the AM industry may look like by the end of 2023. If this acquisition were to go ahead, the result would be the formation of a true 3D printing giant.
So, will this be the first of many consolidating moves in 3D printing, indicating that the industry is maturing? Still, it is difficult to place additive manufacturing, as an entire industry, at a certain stage of growth or maturity. Numerous different 3D printing technologies all fall under the same additive manufacturing umbrella, each at different stages of maturity; while some technologies may be ripe for consolidation, others have barely begun growing. So, while the Stratasys and Desktop Metal merger (or other acquisition) may signal a step change in M&A for AM, it may also just be one notable event during AM's continued phase of expansion in hardware players. IDTechEx will continue to monitor whether 2023 heralds more major milestones for additive manufacturing players and any effects on the 3D printing landscape.
For more details on the many players, acquisitions, and market trends within the 3D printing industry, please see the IDTechEx market report "3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2023-2033: Technology and Market Outlook".
For more information on IDTechEx's other reports and market intelligence offerings, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Research.