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Desktop Metal Buying ExOne, Eyes 3DP Mass Production

Aug. 12, 2021
The $575-million cash-and-stock transaction combines two near rivals and “is a big step in delivering on our vision of accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing 2.0.”

Desktop Metal Inc. announced an agreement to acquire rival The ExOne Co. in a transaction estimated at $575 million, combining two developers and suppliers of binder-jet additive manufacturing technologies and systems in what the buyer’s top executive described as an effort “to create the leading additive manufacturing portfolio for mass production.”

“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,” according to Desktop Metal founder and CEO Ric Fulop. “This transaction is a big step in delivering on our vision of accelerating the adoption of additive manufacturing 2.0.”

Desktop Metal will acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of ExOne common stock. ExOne shareholders will receive a total of $192 million in cash and $383 million in Desktop Metal common stock. ExOne’s chairman and largest shareholder, Kent Rockwell, agreed to vote his 4.2 million shares in favor of the transaction.

“I see incredible opportunity for our customers in working with Desktop Metal and look forward to supporting this new and combined business,” according to Rockwell.

While ExOne develops materials and systems for 3D printing of metals, ceramics, composites and sand, the emphasis for Desktop Metals is production systems for metal 3D printing, for different applications, “from rapid prototyping to mass production.”

In March, and almost simultaneously, both companies their separate development of materials and process technologies for 3D printing aluminum 6061, which Fulop described as “one of the most sought-after materials for use in automotive, aerospace, and consumer electronics.” 

Aluminum 6061 contains magnesium and silicon elements, and it features good mechanical properties and good weldability. It is commonly extruded, forged, and sometimes diecast. Additive manufacturing, it is expected, will speed design and production of 6061 castings for high-value applications.

Desktop Metal and partner Uniformity Labs introduced an alloy they claim offers greater than 10% elongation plus improved yield strength and ultimate tensile strength compared to wrought aluminum 6061.

ExOne and Ford Motor Co. collaborated on a process (which they are seeking to patent) for binder-jet 3D printing and sintering of aluminum 6061 parts, achieving material densities greater than 99%. They claim their process “delivers properties comparable to diecasting.”

According to John Hartner, CEO of ExOne: “We believe our complementary platforms will better serve customers, accelerate adoption of green technologies, and drive increased shareholder value. Most importantly, our technologies will help drive important innovations at meaningful production volumes that can improve the world.”