3D Printing News Digest

3D Printing Industry Review of the Year: April 2023

The 3D Printing Industry Review of the Year continues will the most important news from April.

Developments regarding the M&A activities drawing together Stratasys, Desktop Metal, 3D Systems and Nano Dimension continued throughout April. The Stratasys Board received Nano Dimension’s unsolicited revised proposal to buy all remaining Stratasys shares at $19.55 per share in cash, which Stratasys announced that it would review and evaluate before giving any definite answer. Additionally, discussions took place between Stratasys and Desktop Metal regarding a potential combination between the two companies.

On another note, advancements in research, defense, and other sectors were witnessed, and the medical sector witnessed breakthrough outcomes.

Read all the news surrounding 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.
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. 

This second revised proposal was again rejected by Stratasys on April 13, reiterating its concerns regarding the uncertainty of the composition and authority of Nano’s board and management. Meanwhile, Stratasys’ CEO Yoav Zeif and Desktop Metal’s CEO Ric Fulop discussed a potential Stratasys-Desktop Metal merger. 

According to Stratasys’ SEC (Rule 425) filing, Stratasys and Desktop Metal engaged in discussions since 2021, formalized by a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) in November 2022. In March 2023, Desktop Metal proposed a stock-for-stock merger with Stratasys. Combining with Desktop Metal would enable Stratasys to incorporate metal AM technologies into its portfolio making the duo a potential rival to 3D Systems, enhancing competition in the market.

Medical 3D printing breakthroughs

3D printing advancements in the medical sector picked up pace this month. For instance, in mid-April, the U.S. witnessed breakthrough spinal surgeries employing Evonik’s VESTAKEEP i4 3DF PEEK filament, an FDA-approved 3D printed implant by Curiteva. The surgeries utilized Curiteva’s Inspire platform and proprietary 3D printer, garnering praise from Rothman Orthopedic Institute’s Dr. Alex Vaccaro, and Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute’s Dr. Kevin Foley for the lattice PEEK architecture’s significant advancement in the spine and neurosurgical procedures. 

3D printed PEEK spinal implant. Photo via Curiteva.
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

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.

Light micrograph of a section through the surface of a tonsil showing the epithelium (pink) and underlying lymphoid tissue (brown). Image via Amgen.
Light micrograph of a section through the surface of a tonsil showing the epithelium (pink) and underlying lymphoid tissue (brown). Image via Amgen.

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.

Terran 1 launch. Image via Relativity Space.
Terran 1 launch. Image via Relativity Space.

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. 

Airmen wait to board a cargo aircraft. Photo via U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo.
Airmen wait to board a cargo aircraft. Photo via U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo.

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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Featured image shows Airmen wait to board a cargo aircraft. Photo via U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo.