Yearly Recap: A Review of the 3D Printing Industry in April 2023

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The 3D Printing Industry Review of the Year carries on with the most crucial news from April.

Progress in the M&A activities involving Stratasys, Desktop Metal, 3D Systems, and Nano Dimension continued all through April. Stratasys Board got Nano Dimension’s unsought revised offer to purchase all remaining Stratasys shares at $19.55 per share in cash, their response being it would appraise and scrutinize before presenting a conclusive reply. Furthermore, negotiations occurred between Stratasys and Desktop Metal over a possible fusion of the two firms.

Elsewhere, advancements in sectors such as research, defense, and others were perceived, with the medical segment witnessing groundbreaking results.

Dive into all the news around 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. Photo via AMUG.

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.

Stratasys once more rebuffed a revised proposal on April 13, citing concerns regarding the composition and authority of Nano’s board and management. During this time, discussions of a possible merger between Stratasys and Desktop Metal were taking place between their CEOs, Yoav Zeif and Ric Fulop, respectively.

In accordance with Stratasys’ SEC (Rule 425) filing, conversations between Stratasys and Desktop Metal started in 2021 and an NDA was signed in November 2022. Desktop Metal suggested a stock-for-stock merger with Stratasys in March 2023. The merger with Desktop Metal would allow Stratasys to include metal AM technologies in its portfolio. This could potentially make them a competitor to 3D Systems and stimulate competition in the market.

Medical 3D printing breakthroughs

The medical sector has seen increasing advancements in 3D printing this month. For instance, the U.S. experienced cutting-edge spinal surgeries that utilized Evonik’s VESTAKEEP i4 3DF PEEK filament in the middle of April. This FDA-approved 3D printed implant was created by Curiteva. The surgeries leveraged Curiteva’s Inspire platform and proprietary 3D printer, which were commended by Dr. Alex Vaccaro from the Rothman Orthopedic Institute and Dr. Kevin Foley from the Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute for their significant impacts on spine and neurosurgical procedures thanks to 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 utilizes plant-based materials and human cells for 3D printing nose cartilage. The process, presented at the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive, and Aesthetic Surgeons, aims to transform plastic surgery by providing a safer, more flexible, and personalized alternative to traditional methods.

Elsewhere, Stratasys and CollPlant partnered to enhance healthcare through large-scale bioprinting of tissues and organs. This agreement leverages CollPlant’s rh-Collagen bioinks and Stratasys’ P3 technology-based bioprinter. Centered on Stratasys’ precise P3 technology with CollPlant’s bioinks, the bioprinter targets the $2.6 billion breast augmentation and reconstruction market. Initial efforts focus on creating regenerative breast implants, enabling natural tissue regrowth without immune responses.

Advancements in research

April 2023 was a month rich in research initiatives. Researchers at Amgen British Columbia used human tonsil tissue and bioprinting to model the immune system for drug development. This innovative approach utilized tissue clusters to imitate immune cells, thus providing a platform to anticipate the response to new drugs. Collaborating with FluidForm, the goal was to leverage 3D bioprinting technology to craft immune tissue, which would increase the ability to regulate different immune responses during drug creation. This could potentially lower the probability of clinical test failures.

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and KTH Royal Institute of Technology published a study examining the effects of cooling rates on metal properties in laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) used in 3D printing. Their findings validated the Kurz-Giovanola-Trivedi (KGT) model, allowing AM professionals to predict and control the attributes of printed metal parts, which enhances consistency for extensive manufacturing activities.

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. 

During this endeavour, regardless of not reaching the orbit, Terran 1 did manage to set many milestones. It became the first rocket from the Western world to be fuelled by methane and reach space. Moreover, it was the first almost fully 3D printed rocket to get past the critical stages. Relativity Space has further plans to increase the use of 3D printing in their rockets to 95%. They plan to use it for their forthcoming vehicles, including the Terran R, which is supposed to be fully reusable and is slated for 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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