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The Prosilas journey, from startup to consolidated European AM service

How Prosilas’ acquisition by Prototal will shape the future of the company

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Founded in 2003, Prosilas has built itself a strong reputation in the Italian and European 3D printing markets, providing expert additive manufacturing services for a range of industries including automotive, medical, fashion and industrial. With nearly two decades of experience under its belt, Prosilas is now heading in a new direction, which will see its services integrated into a broader manufacturing service offering. That is, Prosilas has been acquired by Prototal Industries, a Nordic leader in AM and injection molding for polymeric materials.

Through the transaction, Prototal Industries has acquired 100% stake in Prosilas, which will strengthen its position in Europe. In fact, the company will now have one of the largest AM capacities in Europe, comprising SLS, SLA, MJF, FDM and more. Prosilas, for its part, will retain its existing team—including CEO Vanna Menco—and continue to provide its customers with the high quality AM services they have come to expect as well as new capabilities through Prototal.

Prosilas Vanna Menco interview
Vanna Menco, CEO of Prosilas

We spoke to Vanna Menco recently to understand how the acquisition came about and how it will transform the future of both companies as well as the European AM services landscape. She tells us: “For some time I had been considering the idea of an industrial partnership that could consolidate and grow our company. For me, the partnership had to be based on common objectives and a profitable exchange in terms of commercial interactions. I didn’t just want a financial partner, I wanted a partner we could share projects with.”

The evolution of Prosilas

Before we fully dive into what the acquisition means for both companies, let’s take a step back to understand where Prosilas and Prototal come from and what they bring to the table.

Prosilas was founded by Vanna’s father Giulio Menco and two other partners. “In the startup phase, it was his courage, passion and tenacity that allowed the company to make it through,” says the current CEO of her father. “I joined Prosilas in 2007 and fell in love with the world of additive technologies, so much so that in the following year my father and I decided to become partners and take over the company. In the following years, we accelerated the pace of development by investing in and purchasing other systems. In 2015, we moved into a new, larger and more modern headquarters.”

Since then, Prosilas has experienced even more growth. From a hardware perspective, it has installed more machines (including three EOS P770 systems) to increase production capacity. It has also reinforced its offering with automated material handling solutions, MES software and quality management systems. “We practically transformed ourselves from ‘artisans’, so to speak, into an industrial center,” Menco says.

One of the company’s most notable collaborations was with the Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome. “In 2019, we embarked on what we consider the most distinctive project we have ever worked on: 3D printing a bronchus with a resorbable polymer (polycaprolactone), which was implanted into a five-year-old child. We are very proud to say that this was the first implant in Europe of its kind.”

This case study demonstrates Prosilas’ capabilities in the medical sphere, but the company also works with customers in other areas, notably automotive, fashion and industrial automation. Its core competence is SLS 3D printing, though it also provides SLA, SLM/DMLS, FDM and machining services.

Prosilas Vanna Menco interview

Prototal, a key player in the North

Prototal Industries, for its part, was founded in 1999 and has grown to become Northern Europe’s largest supplier of 3D printing, vacuum casting, aluminum tooling and injection molding services. Today, the company has facilities across Scandinavia as well as in the UK—through a recent acquisition of 3T Additive Manufacturing’s polymer business—and now Italy.

Menco elaborates on Prototal’s service offering saying: “It has a very dynamic and comprehensive approach in its offering. It covers the world of additive technologies, from SLA to SLS, MJF and FDM, among others. Its goal is to address the customer’s request from small runs, spare parts and prototyping through additive manufacturing and for greater production volumes with injection molding.” Today, Prototal has an impressive annual turnover of approximately 50 million euros and employs over 200 people.

As Menco says, Prosilas had been on the lookout for an industrial partner since about 2019. Prototal, as it turns out, would prove to be the ideal partner. “In January 2021 we got in touch with Prototal and an excellent feeling was immediately established. Our visions were aligned and I really liked the idea of strengthening the verticalization of polymers but also widening the range of services. Moreover, Prototal’s top management has always been very respectful and professional with us. There is really a good team, with whom we collaborate in a very natural and dynamic way.”

A European power player

Prosilas Vanna Menco interview

Thanks to the acquisition, Prototal Industries now boasts one of the largest AM service capacities in Europe. According to Menco, the company’s machine park now comprises 44 SLS systems, 12 SLA machines, 6 MJF printers, 1 FDM system, 1 PolyJet, 9 vacuum casting machines and 82 injection molding systems.

From Prosilas’ perspective, having Prototal’s broader European service capacity to bolster its existing offering will enable it to grow its customer base and pursue more large-scale projects. “We will certainly broaden our range of action,” she says, “by growing the activities where we already operate but also by strengthening serial production projects. We have created more and more services that help companies develop and convert applications to AM. It starts with consulting and design, and then control and post-process. This enables us to be able to reach industrial specifications for our customers. We are always ready to invest in new technologies or software that can enable this.”

The future for Prosilas looks highly promising thanks to the mutually beneficial Prototal acquisition. On the one hand, Prototal is expanding its European base; on the other Prosilas can offer enhanced services to its customers. “The main goal now is to accelerate the growth of the company, consolidating it in the Italian market and in Europe thanks to the commercial network and group interaction,” Menco concludes. “We can offer wider, faster and more competitive services. We also have more resources available to grow and enhance the R&D activities that have allowed us to increase our internal know-how and offer it to our customers for special applications and serial production projects.”

Research 2021
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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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