Consolidation of metal additive industry continues as DMG MORI becomes majority shareholder in REALIZER

The metal additive manufacturing industry continues to mature and consolidate with news that DMG MORI has acquired a controlling interest in REALIZER.

Germany’s DMG MORI Aktiengesellschaft (ETR:GIL) is a world leading manufacturer of CNC milling and hybrid (3D printing plus milling) machines. While REALIZER are the manufactures of selective laser melting (SLM) 3D printers for industrial applications, and is headquartered in Berlin.

SLM metal plate of tooth implants. Photo via REALIZER
SLM metal plate of tooth implants. Photo via REALIZER

With 50.1% of the issued share capital, DMG MORI has become the majority shareholder of REALIZER, and are integrating SLM machinery into their production.

Christian Thönes, Chairman of the Executive Board of DMG MORI comments,

This is the perfect complement to our high-tech machines in the field of Advanced Technologies. Selective laser melting in the powder bed opens up completely new areas of application for our customers.

Hybrid manufacturing

While both companies share a mutual love of ALL CAPS, the 3D printing methods used vary in a number of ways. The LASERTEC 65 is DMG MORI’s hybrid AM machine that combines 3D printing with milling. For the additive part of the process, metal powder is blown into the focal point of a laser beam to create a melt pool and layer the metal. The process is called blown powder direct laser deposition (DLD).

DLD in DMG Mori’s LASERTEC 65. Clip via Francesco Bandini on YouTube

After this, the LASERTEC 65 automatically switches to a milling tool that finishes of the rough edges of a part and add a desired finish.

Milling in DMG Mori’s LASERTEC 65. Clip via Francesco Bandini on YouTube

In SLM, as used by the REALIZER’s SLM 50 through 300 models, the metal powder is instead located in a bed. A laser selectively melts the powder to make individual layers, the powder bed gradually moves along the vertical Z axis to add dimensionality to the layers.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to fabricating a finished product, some of which are discussed in our interview with Professor Moataz Attallah from the University of Birmingham. We’ve also taken a detailed look at the challenges associated with metal powder bed printing during conversations with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and GE.

The clear benefit of this partnership is that both companies are now sharing the expertise and strength of their machines. The news also adds weight to the argument that the 3D printing industry is maturing, and this is unlikely to be the last news of consolidation during 2017.

Enhanced by a digital startup

In addition to the partnership with REALIZER, DMG MORI is integrating startup company ISTOS (Innovative Software Technologies for Open Solutions) for digital support.

ISTOS is in charge of digitizing DMG MORI’s machining processes, and is developing app-based software for ease-of-operation.

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Featured image shows DMG MORI LASERTEC 65 3D at Formnext 2016. Photo by Michael Petch.