FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German 3D printer maker SLM Solutions has hired Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse to prepare a potential stock market listing, hoping to benefit from a sector boom, two sources familiar with the matter said.
3D printing technology, used to create solid objects from a digital model by laying down successive thin layers of material, has been around for more than 25 years but has only recently caught the imagination of investors and customers.
Shares of 3D printer makers like 3D Systems, Stratasys, ExOne or U.S.-listed German peer Voxeljet have soared as the companies adapt to the consumer market a technology used by manufacturers for decades.
Luebeck, Germany-based SLM specializes in selective laser melting (SLM) machines, which use a laser beam to fuse fine metallic powders together and create a three-dimensional object.
It has clients in the automotive, aviation, construction and consumer electronics industries, but also among medical engineering companies that use the technology to produce titanium alloy implants.
Last year, German mid-market buyout group DPE Deutsche Private Equity bought a 57 percent stake of SLM Solutions and injected fresh capital to be used for further expansion. The rest of the company is owned by founding partners.
DPE was not immediately available for comment. SLM and the banks preparing the potential listing declined to comment.
SLM Solutions has more than 20 million euros ($27.8 million) in annual sales and is profitable. It employs more than 80 staff in Germany and the United States.
A person familiar with the matter said that other options for attracting capital like taking on board additional owners are being considered.
SLM's listed peers trade at 30-50 times their expected annual earnings. Valuations have come down recently after scrutiny of the technology and share valuations.
($1 = 0.7192 euros)
(Reporting by Arno Schuetze; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)