Nano Dimension acquires Additive Flow

Nano Dimension has acquired the UK-based company Additive Flow, which supplies software solutions for 3D design simulation and optimization. 

Additive Flow grew out of another venture, The Plastic Economy, that was founded by CEO Alexander Pluke on the idea of using advanced manufacturing to upgrade and reengineer materials that had otherwise reached their end of life. This company developed a multi-material 3D printer and worked on orthotics (ie braces, splints, and insteps) with the NHS. 

By 2018 The Plastic Economy had run its course so Pluke refocussed his efforts on further developing the software side, setting up a new company, Additive Flow, to do so. This led to a new software platform, FormFlow, which was launched in 2020 and aimed at optimising additive manufacturing design and manufacturing processes to help lower costs and improve productivity and yield. This includes the ability to simulate mechanical, thermal, thermo-mechanical properties, along with frequency and fatigue across a range of materials and processes. 

Pluke, who is both CEO and CTO of Additive Flow, commented: “Our solution was born out of real engineering challenges we faced to harness the capability of advanced manufacturing. Our platform is built from the ground up to handle all the complex data and decisions of digital engineering, so teams can focus on their key goals.”

Additive Flow has made good use of AI, with Pluke describing himself as “an AI leader with expertise in data science, optimisation, and engineering across the full product lifecycle.” That should be a good fit with Nano Dimension, which acquired DeepCube in 2021 for $70 million. DeepCube specialised in applying artificial intelligence to deep learning and machine learning. Nano Dimension has since applied this across its entire portfolio of hardware and software solutions. 

Nick Geddes, Senior Chief Technology Officer of Nano Dimension, explained: “We have been looking at the software market for simulation and optimization offerings for some time. There are many strong solutions in the market that do certain elements of those complicated tasks, but it is Additive Flow’s product that stood out in terms of the functionality we needed for a holistic solution, especially in the context of our requirements across AME and multi-dimensional polymer, metal and ceramic AM. The acquisition will add considerable firepower to the ability of our customers to leverage our leading digital manufacturing solutions.”

Meanwhile, Nano Dimension has given up on its efforts to acquire Stratasys but is still fighting off the long running attempt from its largest shareholder Murchinson to gain more control over the company. Murchinson has suggested replacing the current board with its own directors at the AGM scheduled for 7 September 2023. 

This stems from the company having raised $1.5 billion in equity financing to fund its strategy of acquiring other companies to build a comprehensive additive manufacturing platform. Nano Dimension claims that Murchinson simply plans to gain control of this financing and liquidate the company and has issued a number of open letters to its shareholders urging them to stand by the current board of directors. The CEO Yoav Stern has said that he will resign if even one of Murchinsons’s nominees is elected to the board. 

As part of this Nano Dimension is planning to spend up to $227.5 million to repurchase some of its American Depository Shares, though there’s no time limit or specific number of shares planned. 

It should be noted that Nano Dimension has had some success with its strategy, having acquired Admatec (which included Formatec), NanoFabrica, Essemtec and Global Inkjet Systems in recent years. When I first encountered the company in 2016 it was a small start-up with a prototype 3D printer for a niche market printing circuit boards. Now it’s an established player in the AME – Additively Manufactured Electronics – space and has diversified into metal and ceramic 3D printing, as well as pick-and-place logistics and dispensing, not to mention inkjet electronics and jetting solutions. More to the point, the company has a strong customer base in the aerospace and defence sectors as well as automotive and medical industries. 

The company has just posted its Q2 results which show revenues up 33 percent year on year to $14.74 million and gross margin of 44 percent, up from 32 percent the previous year. However the adjusted Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation figure is a loss of $24 million though this does include $13 million spent on R&D. The revenue for the first half of this year was $29.70 million though the adjusted EBITDA result is a loss of $28 million. 

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