August of 2021 saw the completion of the Tokyo Olympics, with 3D printing technology making several appearances on the world stage. Desktop Metal announced plans to buy out binder jetting rival ExOne in one of the biggest additive manufacturing acquisitions of the year. Arevo, Zetwerk, and ICON each yielded major funding news and the UAE’s Sheikh Mohammed issued a decree to regulate construction 3D printing in Dubai.
Additive manufacturing at the Tokyo Olympics
The Tokyo Olympics ran from 23 July – 8 August 2021, and we saw a whole host of 3D printing applications supporting Olympians from all four corners of the globe. Automotive manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group 3D printed a set of bow grips for the Korean archery team, helping them take home gold in the men’s, women’s, and mixed team categories at this year’s games.
Elsewhere, aluminum specialist Fehrmann Alloys 3D printed a rudder blade suspension that helped propel the Australian sailing team to victory. The part was manufactured using Fehrmann’s high-performance AlMgty alloy at the request of Hamburg-based boatyard Ziegelmayer, a leading manufacturer of Olympic sailboats in the 470 class.
Over in the paralympic space, 3D printing service provider 3D Verkstan used carbon fiber 3D printing technology from Markforged to produce custom sports equipment for para-athletes. The company helped design, 3D print, and test prototype parts for a tandem cycle drivetrain for a blind cyclist and her sighted race pilot.
Desktop Metal to acquire ExOne
When it came to buyout news, 3D printer manufacturer Desktop Metal came out on top when it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire rival binder jetting firm ExOne. The deal was finalized in Q4 2021, with Desktop Metal paying ExOne shareholders $192 million in cash and $383 million in shares, valuing the firm at $575 million. Both companies stated that they ultimately expected the transaction to improve binder jetting adoption rates, helping the technology expand to more large-volume clients.
“I’m very excited about this combination, which I believe will dramatically accelerate the adoption of production metal additive manufacturing,” explained John Hartner, CEO of ExOne. “This combination brings together two of the industry’s leaders, that combined, will solve customers’ challenges faster and bring the reality of production metal additive forward by years.”
Funding news from Arevo, Gelato, Zetwerk, and ICON
In August, composite 3D printing company Arevo closed a $25 million financing round led by Khosla Ventures and Founders Fund. The news came as the firm also completed the construction of the world’s largest continuous carbon fiber 3D printing facility to date. Equipped with 70 of the firm’s shipping container-sized Aqua 2 3D printers, the facility is set to aid Arevo in manufacturing parts for bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, and other consumer products.
“After introducing Aqua 2 last year (4x faster than Aqua 1), we focused on producing and operating these systems at scale,” said Sonny Vu, CEO of AREVO. “Now with a total of 76 systems cloud-connected and operating at our various locations, we have completed our first phase of industrializing.
Elsewhere, on-demand manufacturing service provider Zetwerk raised $150 million to become one of India’s latest business unicorns. The funding, which took the firm’s total value to $1.33 billion, will be used to invest in new technologies and expand the firm’s global reach. Zetwerk aims to better address Western manufacturers encountering supply chain issues during the pandemic.
“Zetwerk is helping enterprises navigate the shift to digital manufacturing amidst rapidly changing global supply chains,” explained Amrit Acharya, CEO of Zetwerk. “Over the last year, more than 100 western companies have moved their supply chains to India via Zetwerk, across industrial and consumer products.”
Over in the construction 3D printing sector, Texan firm ICON raised $207 million to take its total investment raised up to $266 million. The company said it would use the capital to help “bring housing and construction into the modern world”, advancing its concrete printing technology, scaling its production capacity, and expanding its team of engineers and architects.
“Since our unveiling in 2018, ICON’s primary work has been maturing its technology from prototype to reliable, ready-for-the-world products and services,” said Jason Ballard, CEO of ICON. “This has required dozens of fundamental engineering, scientific and architectural breakthroughs, and we’re very proud of where we are today. We want to turn up the velocity in a major way and are ready to scale.”
Sheikh Mohammed looks to regulate construction 3D printing in Dubai
Finally, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), issued a decree to regulate the use of 3D printing technology in Dubai’s construction sector.
Decree No. 24 of 2021 was brought in to support the region’s target of ensuring that a quarter of its newly constructed buildings are built using 3D printing technology by 2030. The new legislation also aims to promote Dubai as a regional and global hub for 3D printing technology and forms part of a broader plan to spur economic growth and the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies in the emirate.
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Featured image shows the Desktop Metal Shop System. Photo via Desktop Metal.