Why This Swedish 3D-Printing Company is Expanding to the U.S.

December 22, 2015, 6:03 PM UTC
Photo courtesy of Arcam

As one major player in the 3D-printing industry consolidates its operations in the Boston area, another—this one from overseas—is staffing up.

Arcam, the Swedish maker of metal 3D printers, is beefing up a new 5,500-square-foot facility in Woburn, Mass. Founded in 1997, Arcam is best known for its Electron Beam Melting technology, a process by which an electron beam melts and then builds up powdered metal to create metal parts. Arcam counts General Electric and large-scale aerospace company Pratt & Whitney as customers, among others.

It’s for that specific reason that Arcam opened its Woburn facility in late summer: The company is interested in tapping more into the U.S. aerospace and medical industries, two sectors where 3D printers capable of producing metal finished products are in increasing demand.

Now it appears Arcam CEO Magnus René will be relocating to Woburn as well to lead the expansion.

“The reason for my relocation is that I will focus more on the U.S. market where options, growth potentials, and strategic opportunities are huge,” René said in a news release.

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At the same time that Arcam is growing its presence on the East Coast, a giant of the U.S. 3D-printing industry is making significant changes. 3D Systems (DDD) plans to cut about 80 jobs at its facility in Andover, Mass., Fortune reported earlier this month. Questions about the reliability and usability of 3D printing have hindered the growth of 3D Systems and its main U.S. competitor, Stratasys (SSYS), in 2015.

Yet Arcam’s move into Massachusetts comes as the market for metal 3D printing continues to grow worldwide. Earlier this month, international price-tracking organization Context reported that sales of metal 3D printing machines worldwide have increased 45% year over year, with the most sales going to the aerospace, automotive, and medical industries.

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It’s a trend being noticed by Stratasys and 3D Systems as well. Both have made recent investments and established partnerships to grow their own metal manufacturing capabilities, as Fortune has reported. Indeed, the prototyping wing of Stratasys, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, expects the use of metals in 3D printing to double before 2020, and right now it seems that the market for metal 3D printers is wide open. Just 348 metal 3D printers were sold in 2013, according to consulting firm Wohlers Associates, which predicts the 3D-printing industry to be worth more than $20 billion within the decade.

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