»The sound of business«

by: Thomas Masuch

»Money makes the world go round«, as they say, and that certainly applies to the world of AM, as well. A look at the related business news from February 2017 reveals some of the players at the core of this industry*:

»Divergent (an US company that 3D prints vehicle chassis) collected over €20 million in venture capital.«

»Oerlikon (Switzerland) announced its plans to spend around €60 million on a new Additive Manufacturing center in North Carolina (USA).«

»The AM Center Dresden (Germany), an investment involving some €75 million, was officially opened.«

»Desktop Metal received €42 million in financial support from Google Ventures, BMW i Ventures, and Lowe’s Ventures.«

»FIT (Germany) invested €1 million in the Polish start-up Sinterit.«

»Wiivv Wearables (a Canadian company specializing in 3D printed shoe insoles) secured just under €4 million in venture capital.«

Metals the predominant

In this random sample of AM news, all but €5 million (for Sinterit and Wiivv, which deal in plastics) of the €197 million in question was invested in metals. This makes metals the predominant material with regard to investments. The acquisition of a majority share in Realizer by DMG Mori confirms this trend.

When it comes to current ventures in metal 3D printing, euros and dollars are evidently burning as many holes in investors’ pockets as they were around 20 years ago in the Internet industry. Some of the start-ups that were part of the hype back then are longer around, of course, but the likes of Google, Amazon, and Facebook represent some of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world. It will be interesting to see how high today’s 3D start-ups are trading on the stock market in 20 years’ time.

While it may not yet be nearly so advanced as other industries in commercial terms, the additive industry is always good for announcements that capture the imagination in other ways. Asier Marzo from the University of Bristol (UK), for example, has developed a tractor beam that can levitate and draw in objects like something out of a Star Trek movie. The young inventor also published instructions online for those interested in building their own tractor beam from electronic components and 3D printed plastic parts. It’s comforting to see that the additive industry we’ve grown to appreciate still makes sci-fi applications like these accessible to everyone – even those without venture capital to spare.  

 

*Selected at random; not an exhaustive review