Proto Labs Enters 3-D Printing With $38M Deal

Proto Labs Enters 3-D Printing With $38M Deal

FineLine Prototyping will retain its current facility in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Proto Labs will keep on the acquired firm’s leaders.

Proto Labs, Inc., announced Thursday that it acquired FineLine Prototyping, Inc., which performs additive manufacturing (also known as 3-D printing), for $38 million.
The Maple Plain-based has historically focused on “quick-turn” manufacturing of custom parts. The company said that it will continue to operate the FineLine facility out of Raleigh, North Carolina and expects to retain all of its employees—including its top executives Rob Connelly and Craig Goff, who will now lead Proto Labs’ entire additive manufacturing business and operations. The deal officially closed Wednesday.

Proto Labs said additive manufacturing is “highly complementary” to its existing injection molding services and said that 70 percent of its customers also use additive manufacturing services in their product development processes.

The company had reportedly said in the past that it didn't plan to invest in 3D printing. When asked why Proto Labs chose to enter the 3D printing market, company spokesman Bill Dietrick said, “Our strategy has been to add services needed by our customer base, the product developer. Additive manufacturing allows us to address a broader range of need for a product developer by providing concept models at the early stage of product development.”
“The addition of additive manufacturing expands our current service offerings in a very complimentary way,” he added.

FineLine generated revenue of about $9.7 million in 2013. Proto Labs’ revenue totaled $163 million in 2013, up nearly 30 percent from $126 million the prior year. Proto Labs has 715 employees worldwide and FineLine has 85.

According to Dietrick, the facility in North Carolina will now operate under the Proto Labs name, although the company will keep the FineLine moniker as its additive manufacturing service brand name.

“The acquisition of FineLine is consistent with Proto Labs’ strategy to expand sales to product developers through envelope expansions and addition of new service offerings which reduce time, cost and waste in new product development,” Proto Labs President and CEO Vicki Holt said in a statement.

Holt was named president and CEO in February, replacing Bradley Cleveland, who announced his intention to resign in October after 12 years leading the company.

Proto Labs also announced that its newly renovated Plymouth manufacturing facility will begin operations Monday. The company said the new building will add 166,000 square feet of space to its custom parts business.

The facility will house 175 employees initially, split evenly between office and manufacturing workers. The company said it plans to eventually house 300 employees in the facility, by May 2017. Proto Labs spent $19 million to purchase and renovate the building, about $4 million more than originally estimated.

Minnesota is home to a growing 3-D printing industry, which includes industry giant Stratasys, which has been on an acquisition spree.