GE Just Snapped Up This German 3D Printing Firm

October 27, 2016, 6:49 AM UTC
Science Museum Explores The Future Of 3D printing
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 08: A technician checks on a 3D printer as it constructs a model human figure in the exhibition '3D: printing the future' in the Science Museum on October 8, 2013 in London, England. The exhibition, which opens to the public tomorrow, features over 600 3D printed objects ranging from: replacement organs, artworks, aircraft parts and a handgun. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)
Oli Scarff/Getty Images/File

U.S. conglomerate General Electric has agreed to buy privately held German 3D printing firm Concept Laser for 549 million euros ($599 million), it said on Thursday, after its bid for rival SLM Solutions failed.

GE (GE) and its competitors have begun to invest seriously in 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, which produces parts with less work than traditional production methods, generates less scrap material and expands design possibilities.

The U.S. group is initially buying 75% of Lichtenfels-based Concept Laser, which specializes in metal additive manufacturing, with an agreement allowing it to take full ownership in a number of years.

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GE abandoned its bid for SLM on Wednesday after activist investor Elliott Advisors, which owns 20% of SLM, rejected its bid, making it harder for GE to reach its minimum acceptance threshold.

It did, however, raise its bid and lower its minimum acceptance condition on Thursday for Swedish 3D printer maker Arcam, in which Elliott also owns a stake.

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Concept Laser’s customer base is focused on the aerospace, medical and dental industries, and it also has a presence in the automotive and jewellery sectors, GE said. The company has more than 200 staff, including operations in Texas and China.

GE, which has spent about $1.5 billion on additive technology research, said it would invest “significantly” in Lichtenfels, which would become a new German centre for the group. Co-founder Frank Herzog will stay on as chief executive.

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