GKN Powder Metallurgy acquires FORECAST 3D, enters polymer additive manufacturing

Leading metal powder and parts manufacturer GKN Powder Metallurgy has acquired specialist polymer 3D printing service provider FORECAST 3D. Combining both companies’ expertise in HP 3D printing technologies, the acquisition presents a significant expansion of GKN Powder Metallurgy’s additive capabilities. Peter Oberparleiter, CEO of GKN Powder Metallurgy, states, “FORECAST 3D is a perfect fit. They are everywhere we aren’t – geographies, markets, technologies and base materials.

“Combining our individual capabilities will present unparalleled advantages to our customer bases and enable us to cross-promote additive manufacturing in metal and plastic over more diversified markets.

“It is an important step on our journey to become No. 1 in this high growth market.”

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The public announcement of the deal was made today, 22 October 2019.

The synergy between HP Metal Jet and Multi Jet Fusion

GKN Powder Metallurgy is the umbrella company of GKN Hoeganaes, GKN Sinter Metals, and GKN Additive, which was formed earlier this year. Together, these branches employ over 7,400 people worldwide across 30 different sites.

On the release of the HP Metal Jet Fusion technology in 2018, GKN Powder Metallurgy became one of the first members of the HP Digital Manufacturing Network. With this membership, the company is one of the only businesses in the world currently offering Metal Jet capabilities as a production service to selected clients.

HP Metal Jet 3D printer at IMTS 2018. Photo by Michael Petch.
GKN Powder Metallurgy is one of the first members of the HP Digital Manufacturing Network giving it access to the HP Metal Jet 3D printer pictured above. Photo by Michael Petch.

Headquartered in Carlsbad, California, FORECAST 3D operates a 49,000 square foot facility equipped with more than 30 pieces of subtractive and additive manufacturing equipment, including a large fleet of at least 12 HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. Founded in 1994, the company employs around 100 people and, in 2017, it became the official West Coast Experience Center for HP MJF.

This synergy of HP technology has clearly been a deciding factor in GKN Powder Metallurgy’s investment. Christoph Schell, HP’s President of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, has even commented on the deal, saying, “There is enormous opportunity for growth in 3D printing and it is exciting to see GKN and FORECAST 3D come together to push the boundaries in both metals and plastics mass production.”

The GKN Powder Metallurgy additive manufacturing empire

Already one of the largest producers of metal powders for additive manufacturing, GKN Powder Metallurgy has wasted no time in expanding its presence in the market to stay on top.

As of 2017, the company has been in an MoU with GE Additive that will see the collaborative development of a range of powder bed and “freeform deposition technologies.” In addition to work with Volkswagen for verification Metal Jet capabilities, GKN Powder Metallurgy is part of a BMW Group initiative focused on “Industrialization and Digitization of Additive Manufacturing (AM) for Automotive Series Processes,” or IDAM for short. The company also has partnerships in place with leading German OEM EOS and Nordic logistics provider PostNord AB.

Most recently, in February 2019, the GKN Additive branch of GKN Powder Metallurgy launched in Asia for the first time with a 3D printing customer center in China.

Referencing GKN’s reported ability to produce over 13 million parts per day Corey Weber, CEO and co-founder, FORECAST 3D, comments “GKN’s resources, production experience and footprint will be the perfect fuel for this new FORECAST 3D engine as we prime it for the new world of local, on-demand manufacturing.”

Fleet of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers at FORECAST 3D. Photo via FORECAST 3D
Fleet of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers at FORECAST 3D. Photo via FORECAST 3D

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Featured image shows a fleet of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers at FORECAST 3D. Photo via FORECAST 3D