Desktop Metal to Acquire ExOne: What Does the Deal Mean?

Analysis of Desktop Metal's acquisition of ExOne

Analysis of Desktop Metal's acquisition of ExOne

Two of the leading hardware makers in metal 3D printing—Desktop Metal and ExOne—are about to become one. 

Earlier this month, Desktop Metal announced its plan to acquire all of ExOne's outstanding shares and common stocks, in a deal valued at $575 million. 

With its origin dating back to 1995, ExOne supplies additive manufacturing (AM) systems that use binder jet technology. Its machines print in metal, sand, ceramics, and other materials.

With a corporate headquarter in the U.S. and branch offices in Europe and Asia, ExOne counts automaker BMW Group, Daimler, and Ford; and simulation software maker Siemens, Ansys, and Altair among its customers. 

The merger of Desktop Metal and ExOne will bring the two companies' patents together. Image from Desktop Metal's presentation to investors. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

The merger gives Desktop Metal a chance to combine its frontend software to ExOne's sand printing systems. Image from Desktop Metal's presentation to investors. Image courtesy of Desktop Metal.

Ric Fulop, Founder and CEO of Desktop Metal, said, “We believe this acquisition will provide customers with more choice as we leverage our complementary technologies and go-to-market efforts to drive continued growth. This transaction is a big step in delivering on our vision of accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing 2.0.”

Like Desktop Metal, ExOne also provides mass-production, mid-volume, and turnkey metal AM systems. The merger reduces competition between the two. It also gives them a chance to integrate ExOne's systems with Desktop Metal's frontend software and furnace technology.

In a presentation to the investors, the executives highlighted the combined IP assets resulting from the deal. Desktop Metal holds more than 370 patents. After the acquisition, the combined company will hold more than 650 patents. While there are some overlaps, the combined company's material library will also grow, offering customers a wider variety of choices for printing. 

“By combining ExOne’s direct sales force with Desktop Metal’s global distribution network of over 200 channel partners, the combined company will enable broader access to additive manufacturing solutions,” according to the announcement. 

Arjun Aggarwal, Chief Product Officer, Desktop Metal, pointed out, “There are significant opportunities to optimize our combined manufacturing and supply chain efforts to yield margin improvements over time alongside product enhancements that will allow us to attract more customers.”

Since certifying and qualifying materials is a big part of the push for enterprise adoption of AM in heavily regulated industries, the combined company can reduce the requirements and accelerate the rate at which it introduces new materials to the market, reasoned Aggarwal.

The two companies also believe combining ExOne's sand 3D printing technologies with Desktop Metal's low-cost hardware can make digital casting more accessible and cost-efficient.

The ExOne acquisition follows Desktop Metal's acquisition of EnvisionTEC, completed in February 2021.  With this acquisition, Desktop Metal added the capacity for volume production of 3D-printed end-use parts in photopolymer. The deal also gave Desktop Metal access to new markets: dental, medical, and jewelry. 

Desktop Metal went public at the NYSE in December 2020 under the stock symbol DM. Markforged, another metal AM (additive manufacturing) system maker, also went public recently under the symbol MKFG. 

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Kenneth Wong's avatar
Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong is Digital Engineering’s resident blogger and senior editor. Email him at [email protected] or share your thoughts on this article at digitaleng.news/facebook.

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