Materialise has acquired an option to buy Link3D Inc., an additive workflow and manufacturing execution systems (MES) company. The acquisition will extend Materialise’s ability to help companies gain control of their manufacturing floor as they scale up their additive manufacturing (AM) capability into volume production.
The acquisition will also allow Materialise to accelerate its roadmap to offer cloud-based access to its integrated software platform. It is expected to broaden Materialise’s industrial customer base across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, and offer Link3D customers a seamless connection to Materialise’s Magics 3D print suite.
“By joining forces with Link3D, we expect to be even better positioned to provide our customers with a solution to plan, manage and optimize their AM operations”, said Fried Vancraen, CEO of Materialise. “This agreement exploits the synergy between the two companies and will help us to remove some of the complexity associated with scaling 3D printing as part of a connected, industrial manufacturing process.”
Link3D offers additive MES workflow software to help companies scale their digital manufacturing operations across complex supply chains and IT environments. Its MES and workflow solutions help bolster overall adoption of AM for series production in major manufacturing industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer, medical and energy.
Streamlining AM workflows
3D printing continues to transform the factory floor as companies increasingly turn to 3D printing for large-scale production. However, as these companies scale their 3D printing processes and integrate these operations with existing production infrastructures, they are confronted with increasingly diverse, complex and distributed manufacturing environments. Materialise and Link3D each offer MES solutions that help these organizations gain control over their manufacturing floor. The synergy between the two companies will allow Materialise to help customers scale their AM capability across complex supply chains with greater operational excellence.
“At Link3D, it has always been our mission to help companies unlock the full potential of AM into their existing supply chains”, Link3D CEO Shane Fox said. “By teaming up with Materialise, a global pioneer of the 3D printing industry, we expect to be able to offer our combined user base access to a robust and comprehensive manufacturing suite of solutions, enabling them to take Additive Manufacturing to the next level”, Link3D Co-Founder and CTO Vishal Singh said.
Software platform strategy
The potential acquisition is also expected to accelerate Materialise’s platform strategy to offer companies cloud-based access to its unified software platform. While some companies had already begun their digitization journey before the pandemic hit, COVID-19 has accelerated this process and emphasized the benefits of pursuing digital transformation opportunities.
Materialise has outlined an ambitious roadmap to evolve its entire software suite to a SaaS model, offering its customers cloud-based access to a complete platform of software tools to manage and control the 3D printing process more efficiently. This cloud-based software platform will provide customers across multiple industries, from aerospace and automotive to point-of-care 3D printing, seamless and efficient access to Materialise’s complete and integrated 3D printing software suite. This platform will also allow customers to benefit from the latest software innovations and enable them to scale their operations based on their current needs.
“Materialise and Link3D share a commitment to support companies as they build cost-efficient and productive 3D printing factories”, said Stefaan Motte, VP and General Manager of Materialise Software. “We expect that joining forces with Link3D’s talented team will help us to advance our roadmap to offer customers more flexible and reliable access to a cloud-based, unified software platform.”
Materialise has recently announced several cloud-based software solutions, including Magics Storefont, a full e-commerce and CRM solution in one platform; and the Process Tuner, an intuitive online platform that helps speed up the process tuning that is required for mass-manufacturing 3D printed parts.
Link3D provides a suite of mission-critical applications for customers in the aerospace, automotive, medical and other competitive and highly regulated industries. These customers are expected to benefit from seamless access to Materialise’s Magics 3D print suite for AM part preparation, automation and production optimization, but also broad 3D printer connectivity and automated workflows.
Link3D will continue to be managed by its existing management team. Materialise expects to exercise the option before the end of the year.