Materials manufacturing for the 3D printing industry is no longer for small operations. Increasingly over the past several years, more and more large chemical companies have jumped into the niche additive manufacturing (AM) market. German chemical giant BASF is among those moving to produce materials for AM, and it’s just acquired two smaller companies to instantly expand its 3D printing material portfolio.
With the purchase of Advac3D Materials and Setup Performance SAS, BASF New Business (BNB) now has an even greater selection of selective laser sintering (SLS) powders and the means to produce them. Advanc3D is a maker of SLS powders, including short fiber composites, that works closely with Setup Performance in the development and production process. Among Advanc3D’s customers are Axalta, Trinseo and Arkema. This last customer is noteworthy in that both Arkema and BASF make powders for SLS and HP’s MulitJet Fusion process.
The two companies will be folded into BASF 3D Printing Solutions, which also includes the recently acquired Dutch filament maker Innofil3D. Other strategic moves in the space include the purchase of Solvay’s polyamide (Nylon) business for €1.6 billion, investment into bioprinting, and ceramics 3D printing.
“Following our acquisition of Innofil3D last year and the consequent strengthening of our market presence in plastic filaments for layer extrusion, we are now in similar fashion expanding our market access in the area of powder bed fusion. The portfolio complements our existing range, being perfectly suited to products such as polyamide 11, polyamide 12 and polypropylene,” said Dietmar Bender, Vice President Manufacturing & Technology at BNB.
Other major chemical companies also operating in the space are DuPont, Eastman and Royal DSM. These companies are likely aware of the potential growth for the 3D printing materials segment, which ResearchAndMarkets.com anticipates will be worth over $24 billion by 2027. How this ties into recent moves by governments like the EU and India to ban single-use plastics is unclear, but it’s likely that such laws and a general increase in conservation efforts could reduce demand for plastics overall.