Industrial sized microwaves are used for thermally processing sand molds or cores that are then used to 3D print parts using binders, and those sand molds require a drying process. Microwave technology, by dint of purging moisture from phenolic binders, improves casting quality. The resultant parts, like magnesium objects used in aviation and steel alloy components used in hydraulic systems, are dependent on very dry molds.
ExOne Company, an industry leader in 3D printing machines and printed products to industrial customers, is hoping to streamline their processes by acquiring two firms they say will support a strategy to broaden the company's post-print processing capabilities.
"We believe that vertically integrating the processes surrounding additive manufacturing will help to accelerate the adoption cycle for 3D printing in the industrial market place," said David Burns, President and Chief Operating Officer of ExOne. "These acquisitions represent critical post-print processes that are components of the 3D printing value chain."
With that strategy in mind, ExOne has purchased Gesellschaft für Industrielle Mikrowellentechnik mbH – or MWT – a pioneer in industrial grade microwaves and the assets of Machin-A-Mation, a specialty machine shop located in Chesterfield, Michigan.
The combined purchases total some $9.8 million dollars.
ExOne's acquisition of MWT for approximately $4.8 million in cash, brings the Elz, Germany firm into the fold. MWT designs and manufactures equipment which is currently used in ExOne's production service center operations. ExOne says they plan to offer the technology to customers as part of systems sales in the future, and that MWT's microwave operation will be integrated into the company's Augsburg, Germany manufacturing operations.
In another deal aimed at focusing ExOne's offerings for the additive manufacturing processes for industrial customers, the company purchased the assets of Machin-A-Mation, a specialty machine shop, for some $5.0 million.
The Machin-A-Mation deal is aimed at expanding the company's ExCast methods, and they say Machin-A-Mation will continue operations at the current Michigan location. ExOne operates a production service center in nearby Troy, Michigan, and that location focuses on advanced 3D printed cores and molds for the aerospace and shipbuilding industries.
"In the manufacture of precision parts, there are several steps to completion," Burns says. "Machin-A-Mation's specialty precision machining expertise helps us address the finishing requirements for complex parts which are cast from our 3D printed sand molds. The addition of the capabilities of both MWT and Machin-A-Mation enable us to better satisfy the needs of our growing industrial customer base in a more comprehensive manner."