Shapeways is another company from the 3D printing space, which has gone public through a reverse merger, after its peer Desktop Metal in 2020. The additive manufacturing space has seen a somewhat modest interest from corporate investors in the past decade.

US-based 3D printing technology developer Shapeways, which counts enterprise technology producer Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and conglomerate Sumitomo among its backers, agreed a reverse merger with special purpose acquisition company Galileo Acquisition Corp. The merged business will take the spot secured by Galileo Acquisition Corp on the New York Stock Exchange. Galileo had listed in a $120m initial public offering in October 2019. The transaction was reportedly carried out at a $410m pro-forma equity valuation. The combined company is also set to raise $75m in private investment in public equity (PIPE) financing from a consortium including 3D printing system provider Desktop Metal, Miller Value Partners, XN, Lux Capital, Union Square Ventures, Inkef Capital and Andreesen Horowitz (A16Z).

Founded in 2007 as a spinout from electronics and medical technology producer Philips’ lifestyle incubator, Shapeways provides digital additive manufacturing design software and services through an online platform. Users upload their creations and can choose from more than 60 different materials and finishes before selling their products on a dedicated marketplace. The company boasts manufacturing facilities in New York City and the Netherlands, serving customers globally. It plans to use the proceeds from the reverse merger to improve its 3D printing technology and expand product offering.

Shapeways is part of the broader additive manufacturing space, which has received some attention from corporate venture investors, as the GCV Analytics chart below shows. The number of corporate-backed deals over the past decade, however, has been somewhat low (rarely more than ten per year) and the total estimated capital in those deals hardly suggests any significant surges in valuations. The latter is not surprising given the technical challenges around the 3D printing technology, being capital intensive and requiring a longer investment horizon than other areas of innovation. Today, such companies from this space are going public through the increasingly popular reverse merger route. Shapeways is actually not the first one, as its peer Desktop Metal agreed to a reverse merger in August last year. We are yet to see how many will follow.