GE ups digital game, snaring two 3D printing companies

Tuesday September 06, 2016
Written by The Associated Press
Sept. 6, 2016 - General Electric is continuing its push into the digital realm, spending $1.4 billion to acquire two European 3D printing companies.

At the same time, it’s upping its old-school manufacturing capabilities with technology that will allow it to quickly punch out components for the automotive, airline and health industries at the whim of any client.

The Fairfield, Conn., company said Tuesday that it expects the acquisition of Arcam AB and SLM Solutions Group AB to boost revenue within its 3D printing business to $1 billion by 2020.

GE has shed most of its financial service business to focus on its high-tech industrial operations. It had, before the deal announced Tuesday, invested $1.5 billion in 3D manufacturing technologies since 2010.

Last February, in a letter to shareholders, GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt promised an earnings boost and payout to shareholders while detailing his vision of a more nimble, technology-based company. Once the most valuable company in the world, GE’s market value has declined by about $70 billion during the past decade.

Shares of General Electric Co., which are up more than 23 per cent this year, slipped about 1 per cent in midday trading.

Analyst Kenneth Wong at Citi noted that GE paid a premium of about 36 per cent for SLM Solutions and more than 53 per cent for Arcam and investors took note, boosting shares of other 3D printing companies. 3D Systems shares jumped more than 6 per cent and Stratasys rose about 5 per cent in midday trading Tuesday.

In its 2016 report, Wohlers Associates, an independent 3D printing technology consulting firm, says the industry grew by $1 billion for the second year in a row, to more than $5 billion. The number of manufacturers selling industrial-grade 3D printers doubled from 2011 to 2015 and that about 278,000 desktop 3D printers were sold worldwide last year, according to Wohlers.

GE said it will keep the headquarters of the two companies in place and retain management and employees.

Sweden’s Arcam AB focuses on customers in the aerospace and health care industries. Arcam generated $68 million in revenues in 2015 and has about 285 employees. SLM Solutions Group, based in Germany, has customers are in the aerospace, energy, health care, and automotive industries. SLM had $74 million in revenues last year and has 260 employees.

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