If you are familiar with German 3D printing service Alphaform, you might not have very pleasant memories associated with it. The reason is that it was one of the companies to go through the direst financial troubles after the recent 3D printing bubble burst. In fact, it was the one that went through the most trouble, since its stock went from a high of almost €5 to the current 30 cents, with an over 98% drop.
However, like many other companies in the 3D printing industry, its business is a profitable and solid one, with great growth potential, which is why Proto Labs, one of the biggest industrial prototyping and digital, small volume manufacturing services in the world saw it as a great opportunity to invest and, thus, expand its presence in Europe, starting at the center of it.
“Germany is known as a center for high quality production high and the high demand for quick prototypes and production parts makes it a key area to support our growth on an ongoing basis,” said Vicki Holt, president and CEO of Proto Labs. “Our expansion in this region will benefit greatly from the experience and local knowledge that the highly qualified employees of Alphaform bring with them.”
The company – which has also suffered on the stock market in recent times, though not nearly as much – completed the acquisition of part of Alphaform’s activities. Specifically, it acquired certain divisions of the renowned service company which has offices in Feldkirchen and Eschenlohe, as well as in Finland and the United Kingdom.
The acquisition adds selective laser sintering, laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering and stereolithography capabilities to existing Proto Labs activities, thus allowing them to offer a complete in solution to European manufacturers, going from prototyping to small volumes production. The deal, however, does not include Alphaform’s subsidiary MediMet Precision Casting and Implants Technology GmbH. It is not clear whether it includes Alphaform’s 3D printed art venture Artshapes.
“Alphaform is considered a leading company that produces high-quality pieces,” added John Tumelty, general manager of Proto Labs Ltd. “The addition of a manufacturing plant that has an excellent reputation, together with the experience of the local labor force, will help us expand the brand proposition of our service of additive manufacturing. Proto Labs will quickly become a single point of reference for a broad spectrum of needs related to the development and realization of products in Germany and across the continent,” he concluded.
Following the recent launch of Proto Labs’ additive manufacture service in Italy, this acquisition allows the group to further expand its production capacity and its presence in Germany, possibly the most important market for AM production, which will also bring benefits in terms of reaching out to other markets, such as in France, Spain and Italy. Hopefully, for all those who are financially exposed to AM stocks, the effects of this continued expansion will soon be reflected in the company’s financial performance.