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Suppliers Prioritize Additive Manufacturing Initiatives to Start 2017

Big-name suppliers have announced collaborations in an effort to answer OEM hang-ups with additive manufacturing adoption. The moves signify the beginning of increased activity around the technology, as expected in 2017.

  1. Carpenter Technology spent $35MM to acquire Puris, a producer of titanium powder for additive manufacturing and advanced technology applications. Puris was founded in 2014 by pioneers in the evolution of spherical titanium powder atomization.

  2. After purchasing a 75% stake in Concept Laser and a 76.15% stake in Arcam in 2016, GE Additive said it would work with GE Capital to sell and finance metal additive machines. The initiative was launched to allow customers worldwide to access flexible financing solutions to buy machines.

  3. Materialise signed an agreement with Siemens’ product lifecycle management (PLM) software business to co-create a process for the design and manufacture of parts using additive manufacturing technology. While specifics are forthcoming, the companies said that the initiative will integrate Materialise’s software with Siemens’ digital solutions.

At OMTEC 2016, additive experts from 3D Systems, Stryker and Zimmer Biomet stressed that in order for OEMs to bring additive manufacturing in-house, they need to have deep knowledge of and a strong business case for the technology in order to truly adopt it.

The consensus was that OEMs are outsourcing use of the technology until they’re able to demonstrate the expertise needed and can justify the volume to purchase machines. Still, the need will remain for partners who can assist throughout the product development lifecycle.

It’s expected that myriad supplier and service providers will grow their own capabilities and products around additive manufacturing as the technology continues to gain ground in orthopaedics. In recent years, PEP Trigon built an 11,000-square-foot facility that features an Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, and UPS launched an on-demand manufacturing network that marries additive manufacturing and logistics to make the technology more accessible for users.