Michelin and Fives has announced the creation of a joint venture aimed at developing and marketing industrial machines and production shops on a global scale via 'metal additive manufacturing' technology, commonly known as metal 3D printing.
An alliance of expertise Under the terms of the agreement signed on 4th September 2015 in Clermont-Ferrand by Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO, Michelin Group, and Frederic Sanchez, Chairman of the Executive Board, Fives, suggest FIVES MICHELIN ADDITIVE SOLUTIONS will be 50% owned by Fives and 50% by Michelin and will benefit from a financial contribution of at least €25m in the first three years. Initially, it will employ about 20 people from the Michelin and Fives teams and integrate additional expertise.
The company will be located near Clermont-Ferrand. Operating in around 30 countries, Fives provides both equipment and production systems for the world's leading industrial players in a variety of sectors. Fives brings its competence, experience and innovation expertise in mechanical engineering, automation and industrial process control to produce fully digitised machines and systems that meet the technological requirements of additive manufacturing constraints as well as those of reliability and reproducibility of controlled industrial production.
Michelin however, has for several years been developing its unique expertise in metal additive manufacturing in order toproduce, on an industrial scale, mould parts that are unachievable using traditional means of production (machining, welding, etc.). This technology now makes it possible to develop and market truck and car tyres with exceptional performances. Through this joint venture, Michelin is able to leverage its expertise in innovative industrial processes.
The ambition is to become a key player in metal 3D printing, FIVES MICHELIN ADDITIVE SOLUTIONS will offer industrialists different areas of application (such as automotive,aerospace, health, etc.), a complete solution from the design and manufacture of machines and complete production lines to the related services (redesign of parts, definition of the manufacturing process, installation, production support, training, etc.). Fives and Michelin aspire to position FIVES MICHELIN ADDITIVE SOLUTIONS as a key player in the growth market of metal additive manufacturing. The aim is to build on the complementary expertise of the two groups to become a worldleader in the segment of industrial solutions for mass production.
Although additive manufacturing is already widely used by manufacturers for plastic, metal 3D printing is still a niche market, but one that is rapidly expanding. Initially used to produce single parts with high added value, metal 3D printing technology is gaining a wider market and is starting to be used by OEMs, accessory suppliers and even aircraft manufacturers. This technology has a strong potential for growth in the years to come, as it combines many advantages: a digital and thereforeflexible process, faster production times, simplification of assembly, gains in volume, no raw material losses and almost unlimited customisation options.
According to the Wohlers Report, the market for metal additive manufacturing in 2014 was already worth than €600m with an average annual growth of over 20%. That same year, more than 500 machines were sold worldwide. The operation should be finalised in the coming months, subject to the approval of the relevant competition authorities.