One of a newer generation of metal laser powder bed fusion (PBF) manufacturers, Additive Industries is continuing to grow rapidly. The latest news is a $14 million investment from its existing shareholder, Highlands Beheer. With the funds, the company aims to expand its product portfolio, speed up its technological development strategy and shore up its working capital. This last use for the investment is meant to ensure financial resilience for the company amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highlands has acquired the shares of the startup’s CEO and co-founder, Daan Kersten, who will leave the company by June 30, 2020. In the interim, Chief Technology Officer Mark Vaes, who has been with Additive Industries since 2013, will fill the role. Kersten said of the decision:
“This substantial investment confirms the long-term commitment of Highlands to the growth ambitions of the company and it allows Additive Industries to make yet another significant step on its mission to revolutionize the productivity for the additive manufacturing of high-quality metal parts. After eight intense years of fast growth I feel the time is right to make way and hand over the reins to new leadership.”
The firm has quickly rolled out a modular metal PBF system with a high degree of automation and throughput. By reducing the need for operator intervention, the MetalFAB1 system is able to produce parts more rapidly, with pre- and post-processing operations happening in parallel to the build job. The next step in its roadmap was the development with SMS Group of automated factories called the Scale4Series, in which parts can be printed and post-processed automatically. In the process, Additive Industries has earned a number of high profile partners and clients, including Airbus/APWORKS, Volkswagen and the Sauber F1 team.
As Highlands is increasing its share of the 3D printing firm, it’s worthwhile to learn a bit more about the company. In fact, Highlands now says that it owns Additive Industries, in addition to a cigar machinery manufacturer, ATD Machinery, and NTS Group, which produces optomechatronic systems and mechanical modules for original equipment manufacturers. Interestingly, the CEO of NTS is also stepping down this August.
Highlands is owned by the Wintermans, a Dutch family that founded and ran Royal Agio Cigars, one of the largest cigar manufacturing businesses in Europe, before selling it to Scandinavian Tobacco Group last year. The family divvied up 10 million Euros among its employees as a part of the deal. Highlands maintains its ATD business, meaning that it will continue to focus on the tech side of cigar making, but its investment in Additive Industries and its ownership of NTS Group signifies a continued shift in the family’s business operations overall, which previously had been making cigars since 1904. The sale of Royal Agio seems to suggest that the transition of Highlands from a cigar company to a tech company is near complete.