American digital industrial giant General Electric (GE) has announced it will acquire a 75 per cent stake in German additive manufacturing (AM) systems expert Concept Laser for €549 million. The move will allow GE to gain full ownership of the company in the near future.
The acquisition sets the stage for GE to sell additive manufacturing equipment across several industries. It comes after GE planned to invest €1.28 billion in AM companies Arcam and SLM Solutions; the SLM deal subsequently fell through on 24 October when GE’s offer to purchase at least 75 per cent of SLM’s outstanding shares expired.
Both the failed and successful acquisitions of SLM and Concept Laser respectively are the result of GE’s intentions to broaden its existing material science and additive manufacturing capabilities.
GE is a multinational conglomerate and a large end user and innovator of AM technology, with additive applications developed across six of its businesses, and €1.37 billion of its investments having been directed towards manufacturing and additive technologies since 2010.
‘Additive manufacturing is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company,’ said Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE. ‘We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier. Additive manufacturing will drive new levels of productivity for GE, our customers, including a wide array of additive manufacturing customers, and for the industrial world.’
Acquiring Concept Laser
Privately-owned Concept Laser designs and manufacturers powder bed-based laser AM machines. Headquartered in Lichtenfels, Germany, the company employs more than 200 staff worldwide, with established operations in America, China, and a global network of more than 35 distributors and agents. Its customer base is focused on the aerospace, medical and dental industries, with a meaningful presence in automotive and jewellery.
GE's acquisition comes at a time of accelerated growth for Concept Laser, having reported a 54 per cent increased in turnover last March, along with a 67 per cent increase in staff.
Significant investments from GE will be directed towards the Lichtenfels headquarters to support the potential growth of Concept Laser. The site will continue to serve as the company’s headquarters while also becoming a new German centre for GE. Concept Laser’s management and employees will be retained, with Concept’s founder and CEO Frank Herzog undertaking an additional senior leadership position within GE.
‘Frank Herzog and his team are true pioneers in metal laser melting technology,’ said David Joyce, GE vice chairman and president and CEO of GE Aviation. ‘We are committed to enhancing Concept Laser’s technologies and product offerings across a well-established customer base.’
‘GE shares our vision regarding the potential for additive manufacturing to lead the digital transformation of industrial production,’ commented Herzog. ‘We are delighted that together we will be able to accelerate development of the technology to the benefit of our customers. We have some exciting new product offerings due to come to market, including our innovative AM Factory of Tomorrow modular concepts, and with GE’s support we will be at the centre of Industry 4.0.’
At the forthcoming Formnext trade fair in Frankfurt on 15-18 November, Concept Laser will announce the sales launch of a new machine concept with fully modular machine technology, along with the series production offering of the AM Factory of Tomorrow.
‘We are hitting an inflection point in demand as customers increasingly understand the possibilities that additive manufacturing presents and the technology advances to be able to turn these possibilities into reality,’ said Herzog. ‘With GE’s broader investment into additive manufacturing, we believe that this process will only accelerate.’