Desktop Metal, an industrial 3D printer manufacturer, announced the acquisition of Aidro, a developer of hydraulic and fluid power systems.
As the self-proclaimed "pioneer" of additive manufacturing in the field of fluid power, Aidro focuses on transforming outdated hydraulic designs into robust, lightweight 3D printing alternatives. After being acquired by Desktop Metal, the company is now seeking to use any additional support it can obtain to increase its penetration in the emerging 3D printing oil, gas, energy and industrial markets.
"We are very happy to work with Desktop Metal," Aidro's co-CEO and vice president of business development Tommaso Tirelli explained. "This partnership will allow us to continue to invest in the expansion of additive manufacturing for next-generation hydraulic solutions that disrupt large industries such as oil, gas, and aerospace."
Using "Aidrolic" 3D printing
Since its establishment in northern Italy in 1982, Aidro has become a manufacturer of hydraulic components used in the high-tech industry, energy and aerospace fields. Until four years ago, the company's production process revolved around common industry standard technologies, but in 2017, it changed its direction and started additive manufacturing on many production lines.
Since adopting LBPF to produce these hydraulic components, Aidro said that it can not only shorten the delivery time, but also locate the "internal channel" in it to optimize its performance. After the conversion, it can now 3D print everything from hydraulic valve blocks, spools, high-pressure manifolds and heat exchangers to steel meters, while printing according to customer requirements.
Aidro also uses this technology to manufacture industry-specific parts such as rotary valve caps and servo flight T4/1 adapters for energy, maritime and aerospace sectors. The latter are SLS rather than PBF 3D printing and became famous in August 2019, when they were used to help disabled pilots fly again and act as a cockpit "plug and play" control system.
Elsewhere, the company continued to invest in additive manufacturing facilities, packaging printing and scanning technology into its dedicated department to produce spare parts and prototypes on demand, but after being acquired by Desktop Metal, Tirelli stated that it now has what it needs Resources took "the next step in AM development."
“AM provides advantages that traditional manufacturing cannot match. Once Aidro realizes its advantages, we will quickly allocate resources to develop expertise and take advantage of this advantage,” Tirelli said. "With Desktop Metal's scale and industry-leading AM 2.0 technology portfolio, including its metal adhesive jetting solution focused on mass production, we are excited about Aidro's growth potential."
The growth of desktop metals continues
After merging with Trine Acquisition for USD 2.5 billion in December 2020, Desktop Metal was listed on the New York Stock Exchange and raised USD 580 million. The company used its newly acquired capital to acquire a number of subsidiaries under the guise of a broader "AM 2.0" strategy. Its stated goal is to open more applications to its 3D printing users.
To date, Desktop Metal's most high-profile acquisition is ExOne, and just last month, it agreed to acquire it for $575 million in cash and stock. After the transaction is completed, the two largest adhesive jetting companies in the industry will join forces. When the agreement is reached, Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop said that this will help "increase the penetration rate of the technology."
Adhesives aside, the company has also entered other areas of 3D printing. Last year it acquired EnvisionTEC for $300 million to enter the DLP market, and then took over Adaptive3D to improve its material portfolio. The company has also made significant investments in the healthcare sector, acquiring Beacon Bio and establishing Desktop Health, which the subsidiary sees as a major revenue driver for the future.
However, through the acquisition of Aidro, Desktop Metal not only purchased its facilities, but also inherited its expertise and ISO9001 and AS/EN9100 certification, which is particularly important in the aerospace industry. According to Fulop, the deal therefore allows Desktop Metal to better support its customers through "proprietary design and application know-how," which he describes as "the killer application of AM 2.0."
"Aidro has brought a talented team with decades of experience in hydraulics and fluid power systems, and are keen to use AM to provide performance advantages," Fulop concluded. "We are excited about this acquisition and look forward to advancing AM 2.0 to mass-produce hydraulics, valves, fluid power systems, and more end-use parts developed with Aidro."
Using 3D printing, many hydraulic system manufacturers began to find new ways to integrate internal channels into their products to increase their weight and performance. Earlier this year, fluid power system manufacturer Domin revealed that by using Renishaw metal 3D printing, it has been able to achieve this goal and manufacture high-performance servo valves.
Designed to control hydraulic fluids by converting signals to pressure, these devices have 25% more power than traditional valves and only about a quarter of their size. The cost of the redesigned devices is also one-third lower than normal, and it is possible to save up to one ton of carbon dioxide, making them look environmentally friendly in the fluid power sector that consumes 300 million tons of natural gas each year.
Earlier, in March 2020, GKN Additive also reported a 3D printed hydraulic adapter block, which was redesigned to be 80% lighter than traditionally manufactured similar products. By adopting Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) principles, the company was able to reduce the amount and cost of materials required for construction, while improving its overall functionality.
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The featured image shows an Aidro engineer using the EOS M290 3D printer. The photo is from Adro.
Paul is a graduate of history and journalism and is keen to find exclusive news about the latest technology news.
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