Year in Review: Insights into the 3D Printing Industry in April 2023

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The 3D Printing Industry Review of the Year continues with the most relevant news from April.

The progression involving the Merger & Acquisition activities that brought Stratasys, Desktop Metal, 3D Systems, and Nano Dimension closer together persisted throughout April. Stratasys Board acknowledged Nano Dimension’s unsolicited amended offer to purchase all leftover Stratasys shares at $19.55 for each share in cash. Stratasys affirmed that it would scrutinize and appraise the offer before making any concrete decision. In addition, there were discussions about a possible merger between Stratasys and Desktop Metal.

In other developments, advancements were seen in the fields of research, defense, among others, and the medical sector saw some significant breakthroughs.

Read all the news regarding April 2023 from Stratasys, Nano Dimension, nScrypt, Relativity Space, and more.

Mark Wynn (front left) receives the President’s Award from Mark Abshire, AMUG President. In honor of Wynn, past AMUG presidents gathered on the stage.

M&A saga continues: A potential Stratasys-Desktop Metal merger onboard

In April 2023, Nano Dimension made several acquisition proposals to Stratasys. Last month, Stratasys received a $19.55 per share revised proposal on March 29. After careful evaluation, Stratasys announced unanimous rejection of the revised proposal on April 3. 

Following this, Nano responded with what it called at the time its “best and final” offer of $20.05 per share, which Stratasys rejected, deeming it undervalued after thorough evaluation. Stratasys raised concerns about Nano’s actions and legality, while Nano planned a special tender offer for at least 51% of Stratasys shares at $18 per share. 

The revised proposal was once more turned down by Stratasys on April 13, as they echoed their previous concerns about the ambiguity surrounding the composition and authority of Nano’s board and management. At the same time, there were discussions between Stratasys’ CEO Yoav Zeif and Desktop Metal’s CEO Ric Fulop about a possible merger between Stratasys and Desktop Metal.

As mentioned in Stratasys’ SEC (Rule 425) filing, Stratasys and Desktop Metal have been involved in conversations since 2021, which were formalized with a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in November 2022. By March 2023, Desktop Metal had put forward a proposal for a stock-for-stock merger with Stratasys. The amalgamation of Stratasys with Desktop Metal would allow Stratasys to add metal AM technologies to its assortment, potentially making them a worthy opponent for 3D Systems, and subsequently intensifying competition in the market.

Innovations in 3D Printing in the Medical Field

Significant strides have been made in the advancement of 3D printing in the medical field in recent times. For instance, in the middle of April, revolutionary spinal surgeries using Evonik’s VESTAKEEP i4 3DF PEEK filament, a 3D printed implant sanctioned by the FDA, carried out by Curiteva, were seen in the U.S. These surgeries relied on Curiteva’s Inspire platform and proprietary 3D printer, receiving commendation from Rothman Orthopedic Institute’s Dr. Alex Vaccaro, and Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute’s Dr. Kevin Foley. This was due to the significant advancement in spine and neurosurgical procedures because of the lattice PEEK architecture.

3D printed PEEK spinal implant. Photo via Curiteva.

Additionally, University of Swansea scientists developed a 3D printed vegan nose for artificial transplants. Launched by The Scar Free Foundation, this project uses plant-based materials and human cells for 3D printing nose cartilage. The process, presented at the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons, is designed to transform plastic surgery by offering a safer, more flexible, and personalized alternative to traditional methods.

Elsewhere, Stratasys and CollPlant collaborated to improve healthcare with large-scale bioprinting of tissues and organs. This agreement capitalizes on CollPlant’s rh-Collagen bioinks and Stratasys’ P3 technology-inspired bioprinter. Centered on Stratasys’ accurate P3 technology and CollPlant’s bioinks, the bioprinter aims at the $2.6 billion breast augmentation and reconstruction market. Initial efforts are concentrated on producing regenerative breast implants that stimulate natural tissue regrowth without triggering immune reactions.

Advancements in Research

Research initiatives were also a focus of April 2023. Amgen British Columbia researchers employed human tonsil tissue and bioprinting to model the immune system for drug development. These tissue clusters mimic immune cells, creating a platform to predict responses to new drugs. Partnering with FluidForm, they aimed to use 3D bioprinting technology to engineer immune tissue, offering better control over various immune responses during drug development, and potentially reducing clinical trial failure risk.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology researchers published a study to understand how cooling rates impact metal properties in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) for 3D printing. The study validated the Kurz-Giovanola-Trivedi (KGT) model, enabling AM professionals to predict and control the characteristics of printed metal parts, improving consistency for large-scale manufacturing. 

Terran 1: Relativity Space’s odyssey unfolds

April 2023 saw Relativity Space achieve a significant milestone with the test flight of the world’s first 3D printed rocket, Terran 1, named “Good Luck, Have Fun” (GLHF). Composed of about 85% 3D printed materials, the rocket failed to reach orbit on its third launch attempt, crashing into the Atlantic Ocean due to an anomaly in the upper stage.

Despite this, Terran 1 achieved milestones as the first methane-fueled rocket in the Western world to reach space and the first nearly entirely 3D printed rocket to pass critical stages. Relativity Space plans to increase 3D printing to 95% for upcoming vehicles, including the Terran R for full reusability, scheduled to launch in 2024.

Strategic $4.6B USAF contract advances the defense sector

In a significant development, Amentum was awarded a $4.6 billion US Air Force (USAF) contract, leveraging 3D scanning, additive manufacturing, and automation for Foreign Military Sales.

The Parts and Repairs Ordering System VI (PROS VI) contract, with a base period and five one-year option periods, aimed to modernize logistics, combat obsolescence, and deliver cost efficiencies to 105+ foreign partner companies. Amentum plans to utilize its SupplyTrac tool, advanced predictive analytics, and partnerships for 3D scanning and additive manufacturing technologies.

Mark Wynn honored with AMUG President’s Award

The Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) awarded the President’s Award to Mark Wynn, Senior Technical Expert at Yazaki North America, Inc., recognizing his exceptional vision, leadership, and dedication to AMUG’s progress. As a long-time volunteer and DINO awardee, Wynn received this award during the 35th annual conference, with only eleven President’s Awards given in AMUG’s history.

“Mark Wynn’s perseverance, dedication, passion, professionalism, and selflessness were apparent in each of the AMUG roles he filled. And the result of those qualities was excellence in his work,” said Mark Abshire, AMUG President.

2023: 3D Printing Industry review of trends and news.

2022: 3D Printing Industry review of trends and news.

Read all the 3D Printing Industry coverage from Formnext 2023.

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