German machine tool manufacturer TRUMPF has announced the acquisition of its additive manufacturing joint venture with Italian 3D printer developer SISMA.
Expected to close by the end of 2021, the deal will see TRUMPF take full control of “TRUMPF SISMA SRL”, the Laser Metal Fusion (LMF) 3D printing business it founded alongside SISMA. . Under the agreement, TRUMPF is expected to begin marketing the LMF machines to users in the industrial, dental and medical sectors, while SISMA will now distribute them to customers operating in its core jewelry and fashion markets.
Ending a seven-year partnership
Based in the town of Schio in northern Italy, TRUMPF SISMA was founded in 2014 with the aim of developing a production system capable of 3D printing metal parts with industrial applications. At the time, SISMA had been working on such a machine for several years and the joint venture offered TRUMPF the opportunity to re-enter a sector in which it had initially entered in 2000 with the TrumaForm.
Fast forward to 2021, and TRUMPF has continued to establish a strong metal 3D printing portfolio with its TruPrint systems, while SISMA has begun to market its own LMF-driven machines. Since all parts produced through these 3D printers are melted rather than sintered, they tend to have an extremely rough surface, but also have very high densities (near 100%), which gives them increased strength.
To allow these parts to be quickly post-processed for end use, SISMA has therefore integrated the technology into its MYSINT machines. Each features a unique angled coating system that rapidly rotates parts upward before returning them to their powder-collecting position, in a simple setup that boosts productivity and makes 3D printers attractive to industrial manufacturers.
After taking over TRUMPF SISMA, a company in which it previously held a 55% stake, TRUMPF now inherits SISMA’s LMF 3D printing business. However, once the operation is concluded, TRUMPF intends to continue the activity as before, by continuing to address SISMA’s industrial and medical customers, relying on its Italian site of around sixty employees.
For its part, SISMA revealed its intention to refocus on the jewelry and fashion markets in the future, where it will now work with TRUMPF to distribute LMF machines. After announcing the sale of its 45% stake in TRUMPF SISMA, the company said that it “thanks TRUMPF for the collaboration that has lasted so far” and that it “looks forward to a productive business partnership” in the future.
Re-enter the entry-level space?
With an expected turnover of 3.9 billion euros for the financial year 2021/22, TRUMPF is one of the world’s largest producers of machine tools and lasers for industrial manufacturers. Although the company’s offering is not limited to 3D printing, as it markets everything from laser cutters to bending, punching and welding systems, it has built a strong metal printing portfolio.
Currently, TRUMPF’s additive manufacturing portfolio includes its own LMF-driven TruPrint 1000, 2000, 3000 and 5000 machines, as well as its TruLaser Cell 3000, 7040 and DepositionLine technology package powered by Laser Metal Deposition (LMD).
While the former are designed to allow metal part manufacturers to enter mass production and offer cylindrical build volumes from 100mm x 100mm to 300mm x 400mm, the latter can be used for cutting and 3D welding in addition to LMD, making it an attractive option for those looking to produce complex medium-sized components in an automated manner.
In the past, the company’s technologies have often been used in the aerospace and automotive sectors, such as the Porsche LMF 3D printing of improved pistons for its 911 sports car in July 2020. TRUMPF has also worked with Heraeus AMLOY to improve the profitability of additive manufacturing of ultra-light amorphous metal parts, as part of its desire to better infiltrate industrial environments.
Elsewhere, TRUMPF toyed with the idea of offering entry-level metal 3D printers through its subsidiary One Click Metal, but opted to sell the business to INDEX Group earlier this year. Today, with the acquisition of TRUMPF SISMA and its MYSINT machines, the company seems to have bought out the low-cost segment, although it remains to be seen whether it will attempt to scale LMF in the future.
Making metal AM more accessible
As SLM Solutions, Farsoon, and EOS continue to release larger and larger industrial-scale 3D printers, it can be difficult for those looking to conduct metal additive R&D to find an affordable way to do so. Luckily for them, the likes of Xact Metal aim to address this very application, and the company recently unveiled two new metal 3D printers under $90,000 ahead of Formnext 2021.
Meltio also offers an affordable metal fabrication alternative, in the form of its modular Meltio Engine, a 3D printing cell that can be integrated with CNC machines and robotic arms to enable hybrid production. The company unveiled an improved LMD module in December 2020, which would be able to manufacture fully dense parts from various metals such as steel, Inconel, titanium and more.
Meanwhile, on the electron beam melting (EBM) front, Freemelt set out to develop a lower-cost, open-source approach to materials development with its Freemelt ONE 3D printer. Apparently requiring less powder when qualifying alloys than other similar systems, the company hopes its machine can help accelerate the rate at which printable EBM alloys can be identified and deployed.
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Featured image shows TRUMPF headquarters in Hüttinger, Germany. Photo via TRUMPF.