CORE Industrial Partners raises $887 million, 3D printing acquisitions to follow?

Chicago-based private equity firm CORE Industrial Partners has announced closing a total of $887 million in capital commitments as it continues to expand its additive manufacturing company portfolio. 

$685 million was raised by its flagship CORE Industrial Partners Fund III, L.P. (Fund III), and $202 million by CORE Industrial Services Fund I, L.P. (Services Fund I).  

This funding continues the firm’s strategy of raising capital for investments in industrial manufacturing, including 3D printing. Over the past five years, CORE has raised more than $1.58 billion in limited partner commitments for this strategy. 

Analysts have consistently featured supply chain risk as a concern, including in the annual WEF global risk report. The risk was initially thrown into sharp relief by the COVID-19 disruption and persists due to geopolitical tensions and security concerns over manufacturing sovereignty and continuity. In many cases, The investment thesis of companies such as CORE appears to tap into a desire to plug potential vulnerabilities and harness the network effect of unifying disparate assets. The United States CHIPS and Science Act has contributed to this trend. The legislation was passed in 2022 and places significant emphasis on increasing investment in the domestic production of semiconductors.

“We are extremely proud and humbled by the strong interest and support from both existing and new investors and are grateful for the trust they have shown in us,” commented John May, Managing Partner at CORE Industrial Partners.

“The unwavering support for both fund strategies highlights our dedication to an industrial sector we believe is experiencing significant long-term tailwinds. We remain committed to taking advantage of these opportunities and working hard for our limited partners.”

A range of North American and European institutions have invested in the CORE funds, including endowments, foundations, insurance companies, public and corporate pensions, global asset managers, investment advisors, and family offices. 

Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal adviser for the fundraising, while Harris Williams Private Capital Advisory served as exclusive placement agent.  

CORE Industrial Partners invests in AM 

Industrial Services Fund I shifts the firm’s strategic focus to the industrial services sector. CORE believes that this sector is currently experiencing strong levels of growth due to the reshoring and proliferation of advanced technologies, with growing adoption of Industry 4.0 applications in North America.    

Fund III will continue CORE’s existing strategy of acquiring manufacturing and industrial technology company’s. CORE has made a number of investments and acquisitions within industrial additive manufacturing over recent years. 

In 2019, CORE announced its ambition to build one of the “largest global additive manufacturing companies,” following the purchase of 3D printing service specialist FATHOM through portfolio company Midwest Composite Technologies (MCT).  

In keeping with this goal, CORE announced the acquisition of on-demand manufacturing service provider Phoenix Proto Technologies last year. 

Based in Michigan and founded in 2008, Phoenix Proto specializes in design, aluminum tooling, and injection molding services for prototyping applications. The company also offers CNC machining and additive manufacturing services to customers in the medical, aerospace, defense, and consumer markets.  

Phoenix Proto Technologies Logo. Photo vis Phoenix Proto Technologies
Phoenix Proto Technologies’ Logo. Photo vis Phoenix Proto Technologies

This deal was conducted via 3D printing service provider RE3DTECH + GoProto, a portfolio company of CORE acquired in January 2022. Through this purchase, CORE announced the formation of a “new 3D printing platform,” with the company being traded separately from CORE’s other related businesses.       

As part of the deal, CORE inherited RE3DTECH + GoProto’s suite of industrial 3D printers. This included X7, Mark 2, and Metal X 3D printers from Markforged. CORE also purchased RE3DTECH’s fleet of SLM Solutions SLM 280, EOS EOSINT M 280, and Arcam EBM Q20plus 3D printers. 

Other additive manufacturing acquisitions by CORE include the 2021 purchase of 3D printing materials manufacturer 3DXTECH, and its subsidiaries Triton 3D and Gearbox 3D. Here, CORE sought to form a “new additive manufacturing platform” providing 3D printers, materials, and services for high-performance material extrusion technologies.

In 2020, CORE completed the procurement of GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services. This metal 3D printing bureau has a strong focus on direct metal laser sintering technology

CORE Industrial Partners has acquired 3DXTECH and its subsidiaries Gearbox and Triton. Photo via 3DXTECH.
CORE Industrial Partners acquired 3DXTECH and its subsidiaries Gearbox and Triton. Photo via 3DXTECH.

Consolidation between 3D printing service providers  

CORE’s efforts to acquire 3D printing machine shops and bureaus reflect a broader trend of market consolidation between 3D printing service providers. 

Last year, Solid Solutions’ sister company, Solid Print acquired Swedish reseller 3D Verkstan. The acquisition was made as part of an effort to extend the company’s presence in the Nordic region and enhance its 3D printing service and support offering. 

Solid Print has also acquired 3DPRINTUK, a London-based 3D printing service provider. These two deals reflect the firm’s ongoing efforts to build a comprehensive suite of additive manufacturing services that support customers from design to production. Through acquiring 3D Verkstan, Solid Print has enhanced the 3D printing, 3D scanning, and 3D design it offers as part of its service portfolio.  

Elsewhere, on-demand digital manufacturing provider Protolabs acquired online manufacturing platform 3D Hubs for $280 million. 

The acquisition saw Protolabs gain access to 3D Hubs’ global network of 240 manufacturing partners, broadening the company’s part envelope to deliver larger parts with increased complexity and new materials. Through the deal, Protolabs hopes to develop “the world’s most comprehensive” digital manufacturing offering for custom parts. 

In 2021, global manufacturing and 3D printing marketplace Xometry acquired product sourcing, supplier selection, and digital marketing company Thomasnet in a deal worth $300 million. 

This move expanded Xometry’s buyer and seller base, enhancing its global digital marketplace for manufacturers. As part of the deal, Xometry also acquired Thomas’ marketing and data services, leveraging them to provide sellers with end-to-end services that are complemented by fintech and digital marketing products. 

In an interview with 3D Printing Industry, Xometry CEO Randy Altschuler explained that Xometry’s acquisition of Thomasnet “blows open to different categories of things that we can offer.” 

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Featured image shows RE3DTECH’s shop floor, fitted with DMLS, FFF and MJF-capable 3D printers. Photo via RE3DTECH.