M&As: Asahi Kasei invests in Israeli start-up Castor Technologies; Stellantis to acquire equal stake in Symbio

Asahi Kasei invests in Israeli start-up Castor Technologies

Japanese chemical firm Asahi Kasei has decided to invest in Castor Technologies Ltd, an Israeli start-up specialising in the development of 3D printing software. In addition to utilising Castor’s software and services, the investment will allow Asahi Kasei to pursue synergies between its CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) technical service for plastic products and Castor’s software. Terms were not disclosed.

The 3D printing market has grown by an annual average of over 20% since 2015. Through the emergence of rapid prototyping and manufacturing, this annual growth rate is likely to rise to 24%, increasing the need for an optimised technical service and faster response times to customer requests.  

When 3D printing is applied to conventional products, an engineer usually selects the candidate parts and decides whether to use 3D printing or not, sometimes modifying the shape to enhance 3D printability. In contrast, Castor’s software with its proprietary algorithm can automatically select parts that are suitable for 3D printing from CAD drawings of thousands of parts in a bill of materials (BOM) and propose shape modifications.

Further optimisation of customers’ manufacturing processes is enabled by estimating manufacturing lead times, costs, and CO2 emissions of the analyzed parts. Asahi Kasei has been providing comprehensive, high precision support for its customers’ product design and development through CAE technical service focused on engineering plastics.

Castor’s service for simple judgement of part formability and simulation of manufacturing costs is expected to enable an even swifter response to customer inquiries. Applying Castor’s software and service prior to Asahi Kasei’s plastic CAE technical service will contribute to automate more advanced simulations, it adds. 

“Through this investment, we will further investigate the synergies between Castor’s software and Asahi Kasei’s CAE expertise,” said Yukihiro Bann, Senior General Manager for Business Strategy and Marketing, Mobility & Industrial SBU at Asahi Kasei Corp.

In other news, auto parts firm Faurecia, a company of the Forvia group, tyre maker Michelin and Stellantis have entered into a binding agreement for auto maker Stellantis to acquire 33.3% stake in Symbio, a specialist in zero-emission hydrogen mobility. Faurecia and Michelin will remain shareholders with 33.3% holding each.

The announcement is a significant step in the decarbonisation of the mobility industry and illustrates Symbio’s technological forte in hydrogen fuel cell innovations. The addition of Stellantis as a shareholder will boost Symbio’s development across Europe and in the US.

Symbio plans to produce 50,000 fuel cells/year by 2025, leveraging its Saint-Fons gigafactory, which will start production in the second half of 2023. In 2022, Symbio announced the implementation of its HyMotive project aimed at accelerating its industrialisation and the development of disruptive innovations, a project that will enable the company to reach a total annual production capacity in France of 100,000 systems by 2028 with the creation of 1,000 jobs in France.

“We are delighted with this transaction which further increases Symbio’s capabilities and will give additional momentum to the joint venture. Symbio is now perfectly equipped to scale up and expand its leadership outside Europe, at a time when the automotive industry is accelerating towards zero emissions,” said Patrick Koller, CEO of Faurecia. “This agreement benefits all parties and allows Forvia to confirm its status as a global leader in clean mobility.”

“The entry of Stellantis into the capital of Symbio is a tremendous development driver for our joint subsidiary,” said Florent Menegaux, CEO of Michelin. “It is also a perfect demonstration that fuel cell technology is essential for the automotive industry to succeed in the electrification of mobility, particularly for professional use. Stellantis is already a partner of choice and will be a key player with us in the future. Finally, this transaction reinforces the conviction that Michelin has held for many years: hydrogen will be one of the unavoidable solutions for decarbonisation.”

The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals. Closing is expected in the third quarter of 2023.

Symbio is a Stellantis partner in the deployment of the world’s first hydrogen-powered light commercial vehicle program.


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