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Rescue deal for laser additive service provider Alphaform

13 Oct 2015

US-listed Proto Labs acquires 'select assets and operations' of Germany-based Alphaform to extend its additive manufacturing presence in Europe.

Alphaform, a provider of laser additive manufacturing services in Germany that filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, appears to have been rescued following the completion of a deal with US-based Proto Labs.

The acquisition sees Proto Labs gain “select assets and operations” previously belonging to Alphaform, including a range of laser additive manufacturing capabilities in three European countries.

“The acquisition includes Alphaform divisions operating in Germany, Finland and the UK,” Proto Labs announced. “This acquisition will significantly expand Proto Labs’ recently launched additive manufacturing capabilities in Europe by adding selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering and additional stereolithography capabilities.”

Back in July, Alphaform said that it had initiated bankruptcy proceedings in Munich, Germany, “on the grounds of impending insolvency”, adding that it would work with bankruptcy administrators to continue implementing earlier efforts to restructure the business.

Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Feldkirchen near Munich, Alphaform was set up as a service provider in the emerging field of 3D printing. The company worked with its clients on both product development and manufacturing, and appeared to be in reasonable financial health when it released preliminary results in February 2015.

Despite the restructuring efforts, it was able to post a 12 per cent increase in annual revenues to €29 million for 2014, while it also landed a giant €10 million order – its largest ever – towards the end of last year.

Rapid turnaround
Minnesota-based Proto Labs is an altogether larger operation, combining expertise in more traditional manufacturing techniques like CNC machining and injection molding with laser additive technology.

The NYSE-listed company was included at number 75 in last month’s list of the 100 fastest-growing US public companies, as ranked by Fortune Magazine. In July it announced sales of $64 million for the quarter ending June 30, up more than 20 per cent year-on-year, with CEO Vicki Holt highlighting the company’s full launch of additive manufacturing capability in Europe as a key priority.

She also pointed out that the firm’s US revenues were growing primarily thanks to growth in additive manufacturing. Proto Labs offers a rapid turnaround on parts produced using three different additive processes: stereolithography, selective laser sintering and direct metal laser sintering.

The addition of Alphaform should bolster that capability, with Holt describing it as an “ideal complement” to Proto Labs’ existing business. “The purchase also gives Proto Labs a major presence in Germany, which is the largest single market for the company’s services in Europe,” stated the firm.

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