*2021 AM Perspective From Student and Intern, Olivia Krueger
It’s that time of year again, where the year in review listicles get published and we all scroll through and remember that while the days drag on, the year flies by. As an engineering student who’s relatively new to the industry, I’d like to share with you a few of the highlights that stood out to me personally.
We’ll start all the way back in January where Desktop Metal picked up EnvisionTEC for $300M. I remember this one came as a bit of a surprise, as it really didn’t seem to align all too well with the “Desktop” or “Metal” part of Desktop Metal. But who – outside of Ric Fulop – was to say what Desktop’s plan for the year was?
Markforged kicked off another year of SPAC mania with the announcement of their intent to go public in February. As much as “SPAC” did become the overused word of the year, it is great to see the industry growing and no longer relying nearly as much on VC funding. We’re entering the public market in earnest and proving that our little industry can run with the big dogs of manufacturing. Through the rest of the year, we saw SPAC announcements and closures from Velo, Shapeways, Fast Radius, Redwire, Fathom, and Essentium. Both Xometry and Massivit 3D entered the public market as well, though they utilized more traditional routes to IPO.
Stratasys announced the purchase of RPS to improve their SLA printer offerings. They also released their H series SAF printer lineup, bringing them into the powders game and continuing to establish their polymer empire.
Sam O’Leary of SLM Solutions made some waves on LinkedIn with this post seeking “world leading engineers” to slide into his DMs for a job at SLM. It’s a bold move, perhaps a little cringe, but the AM talent pool is small and as a young engineer I can honestly say this post garnered significant interest from the engineers in my circle. It certainly made an impression that he’s trying to differentiate himself from other CEOs in additive.
In early summer, Materialise announced they had acquired the option to buy Link3D – one of the more confusing ways to announce an acquisition, but an announcement nonetheless.
As the summer progressed, we finally got some context to the Desktop Metal purchase of EnvisionTEC. The launch of Forust, a binder jet printer utilizing reclaimed sawdust and colored binder to print complex wood designs, is built using the EnvisionTEC RAM System of binder deposition.
As the southern United States hit summer in earnest, AMUG was live and in person this year signaling an exuberant return to in-person events across the globe. On the topic of trade shows, SLM Solutions made waves yet again this summer with a VERY public breakup video announcing they wouldn’t be attending Formnext. Some companies were hesitant to commit to their attendance, but Rapid + TCT, TCT 3Sixty, AMCE, and Formnext were a few of the other large shows that returned in person this year with great success. As a student, it was thrilling to be able to attend a few of these events, and really get a feel for the electricity that this industry carries in person.
The summer closed out with Desktop Metal continuing to make waves in the industry. They purchased Aerosint in July, opening the door for them to explore multimaterial metal binder jetting. Then, in August, Desktop Metal shocked the industry by announcing the purchase of their largest competitor, the granddaddy of binder jet, ExOne. This purchase, in addition to all the others this year, truly cemented their intent to master binder jetting. I am looking forward to seeing the huge leaps that they’ll make with the systems they release in the next five-ish years.
The year ended with a huge announcement at Formnext that Wohlers Associates had been purchased by ASTM. This is great news, as the annual Wohlers report has been a touchstone on the industry almost as long as additive manufacturing has existed. Now, with their connection to ASTM, Wohlers will be able to provide additional insight to standards and upcoming developments in the regulation of additive manufacturing in addition to their stellar trendspotting.
It’s been a big year for the additive industry. The consolidation and mass movement towards IPO has further cemented additive as a manufacturing segment that’s here to stay. I’m excited about the future, I’m excited for the growth of this industry, and I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in store.