Clariant has deemed its 3D printing materials division to no longer be in line with its strategic vision, and agreed to cede control over a selection of its filament and pellet materials, and part of its 3D printing team. For ASM, the partial takeover will enable the company to better serve its customers rapid product development needs, with 3D printing filaments and pellets that meet the requirements of specific applications.
“We are very excited about welcoming the new team members and the expertise they bring to expand our service offering,” said Hugo da Silva, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at DSM. “We share the same focus on customer needs and have complementary expertise and portfolio. Together we can fulfil market needs faster and with a broader materials toolbox, and realize further the potential of additive manufacturing to the manufacturing world.”
The expansion of Clariant’s materials business
Clariant’s agreement with DSM represents a change of direction for the company, which had been expanding its 3D printing materials business since 2017. The company launched a division dedicated to the development of AM materials in December that year, which began devising a new range of high-grade filaments for 3D printing.
Continuing to broaden the reach of its materials portfolio, Clariant joined Ultimaker’s Materials Partner Network in April 2018, which saw its filaments utilized across multiple polymer 3D printing disciplines. Following this, in July 2018, the company listed R&D vacancies at its Guangzhou base in China, with the specific role of “creating and optimizing an innovative range of 3D printing materials.” Clariant went on to display a new range of industrial 3D printing materials at Formnext 2018, including a green-blue ColorWorks filament, flame retardants, glass fibers and light stabilizers.
Nonetheless, in August 2018, Clariant began to seek a way of cost-sharing within its material business, via a proposed merger with Saudi Arabian chemicals company SABIC. While both companies had an interest in 3D printer filaments, the deal was called off by SABIC, which cited “unfavorable market conditions.” The Saudi company later reported a net loss of $101 million for the first six months of 2019, and the deal was never revisited.
DSM’s acquisition deal
The latest agreement sees DSM take over Clariant’s portfolio and pipeline of engineering-grade filament and pellet materials. While Clariant will continue to serve users of 3D printing with flame retardant and high-quality additives, much of its team’s expertise will be handed over. DSM in turn, will inherit Clariant’s customer relations and 3D printing teams, whose knowledge of powder development, will help customers to develop materials that match their existing product portfolio and production processes.
Through integrating part of Clariant’s portfolio into its own, DSM will also be better positioned to address its customers’ needs, by rapidly adapting high performance filaments and pellets for specific markets. Moreover, DSM believes that the deal represents a considerable expansion of its materials and services offering. The Dutch company has inherited a dedicated, flexible, high-speed compounding setup, and a small production line which will enable it to quickly ramp-up the manufacturing of small product batches.
“After thorough strategic review, Clariant concluded that its 3D printing materials business was no longer aligned with its strategic focus,” said Richard Haldimann, Head of Sustainability Transformation at Clariant. “While we will continue to serve the 3D printing market with our high quality additives and flame retardants, we are confident that DSM is the ideal new home for parts of Clariant’s tailored 3D printing materials business to continue its successful development. I look forward to seeing them thrive.”
DSM’s growing role in 3D printing material production
While DSM’s acquisition deal will significantly expand its offering to customers, the company has already made advances in 3D printing via a series of partnerships over the last few years.
In March 2020 for instance, DSM partnered with 3D printing engineering and consulting firm JuggerBot 3D to explore the potential of Fused Granulate Fabrication (FGF) technology. The companies co-developed pellet 3D printers and materials for production applications.
Working with San Francisco-based 3D printing startup Origin, DSM optimized photopolymer materials for Origin’s programmable P3 3D printing platform in May 2019. The first material to be developed under the partnership was the Somos® PerFORM HW, a composite with a tensile strength of 80 MPa and resistance to high temperatures of up to 260°C.
A collaboration with large-scale 3D printer supplier CEAD in May 2019, saw DSM develop new feedstock, tooling and end-use applications for FGF 3D printing. By expanding its range of FGF 3D printing materials, the company aimed to provide flexibility to its customers in choosing the material and technology that best suited their desired application.
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Featured image shows Clariant’s corporate headquarters, which is located in Switzerland. Photo via Clariant.