Evonik Venture Capital acquires stake in leading Chinese 3D printing specialist
Evonik (Essen, Germany) has acquired a minority stake in the Chinese company UnionTech through its Venture Capital unit. The Shanghai-based company is active in the field of stereolithography 3D printing. This additive manufacturing technology makes it possible, to produce highly accurate and detailed polymer parts. Bernhard Mohr, head of the Venture Capital unit: "We expect great technical advances in the field of stereolithography. Evonik is preparing the launch of ready-to-use materials for this process. Our investment is therefore not only aimed at a profitable financial return, but above all at new insights in the use of this process." Evonik expects an accelerated market access for the new photopolymer products, especially in the very fast-growing Chinese market, Mohr continued.
In a stereolithography process the part is pulled from a bath of light-curing liquid resin. Laser or display light sources cure the photopolymer layer by layer, resulting in a three-dimensional product. With this method, the production of very complex workpieces is possible, which have a much smoother and firmer structure than with other 3D processes. Typical markets include automotive and aircraft manufacturers as well as industrial parts or special shoes.
Thomas Grosse-Puppendahl, head of the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Growth Field at Evonik, sees the investment as an excellent addition to the existing portfolio. Evonik is preparing the introduction of a set of new formulations to the market as a starting point of the group’s new INFINAM photopolymers product line. "With the coming up introduction of the new products and the current participation in UnionTech, we are expanding our activities as a reliable partner of the industry in the development and manufacturing of high-performance materials for 3D printing to strengthen our business activities along the important photopolymer technology," says Thomas Grosse-Puppendahl. In addition to the polymer portfolio for powder-based processes and biomaterial filaments for medical technology, Evonik will offer a range of innovative ready-to-use resins for photopolymer-based technologies in order to further diversify the material landscape of the entire 3D printing market, according to Grosse-Puppendahl.
The innovation growth field Additive Manufacturing plays an important role in Evonik’s strategy and is thereby supported by the venture capital team. So far, Evonik has invested in multiple companies in the field of additive manufacturing to support the development of this industry. The UnionTech investment perfectly complements Evonik’s existing portfolio of 3D printing activities and is the second 3D investment in China.
UnionTech is the market leader in Asia for ultra-large size industrial printers. The company develops and manufactures printers, supplies printing materials through subsidiaries and offers additive manufacturing as a service provider. This gives the company a complete overview of the 3D applications. UnionTech was founded in the year 2000 and has about 190 employees. Jinsong Ma, general manager of UnionTech, also welcomes the participation of the specialty chemicals company from a strategic point of view: "Evonik produces materials for all common 3D printing processes. This makes the company an ideal partner to continue to grow with us. This gives us direct access to the materials we need for our customers."
UnionTech is owned by multiple Chinese financial investors as well as the company's management. It was agreed not to disclose the amount of the investment.
Caption: An Evonik scientist with a 3D printer (photo: Evonik)