General Electric puts its faith in 3D printing with two European acquisitions

Arcam 3D printer

General Electric has given the stamp of approval to the future of 3D printing by simultaneously announcing the purchase of two companies focused on producing the printers.

The American conglomerate has made serious inroads in Europe with a combined $1.4bn purchase of Sweden-based Arcam AB and Germany's SLM Solutions Group as it looks to reposition itself as a "digital industrial company.

The move is thought to bring GE's overall production costs down with it now greatly extending its ability to inexpensively produce components. Both companies are involved in additive manufacturing, the laser-based production of metal components that can be used in the auto and aero industries.

“Additive manufacturing [3D printing] is a key part of GE’s evolution into a digital industrial company. We are creating a more productive world with our innovative world-class machines, materials and software. We are poised to not only benefit from this movement as a customer, but spearhead it as a leading supplier,” said Jeff Immelt, chairman and chief executive of GE.

“Additive manufacturing will drive new levels of productivity for GE, our customers, including a wide array of additive manufacturing customers, and for the industrial world.”

It said it expects to grow the new additive business to $1bn by 2020 at “attractive returns” and will be implementing the practises across six GE businesses including GE Power, Oil & Gas, Healthcare and GE’s services businesses.

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