CLERMONT-FERRAND, France — Michelin Group has acquired AirCaptif, a startup in the field of ultralight inflatable insulation solutions for industry or healthcare, a move in line with Michelin's stated goal of diversification.
The acquisition brings Michelin into the field of flexible composites, where the French tire maker said it will be able to offer innovative products manufactured from high-technology materials. Through its decades of work in tire technology, Michelin said it has developed expertise in inflatable structures and composite materials.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Trappes, France-based Aircaptif is in the process of moving its manufacturing back to France from China, where it has been since the company's founding. Michelin anticipates the business will employ 200 at full capacity.
Michelin said AirCaptif's structures are "simple to use and 10 times lighter than steel," featuring a single inflation point for quick and simplified implementation. The "extremely innovative" structures, said Michelin, can be used in various applications such as aeronautics, medicine, construction, and even leisure.
This acquisition fits into Michelin's "Michelin in Motion" strategic plan, which calls for 20% to 30% of the company's revenues to come activities relating to and beyond the tire by 2030.
To achieve this, Michelin has targeted five key areas for growth: services and solutions, sustainable flexible composites, metal 3D printing, hydrogen mobility and materials for regenerative medicine.
The purchase of AirCaptif constitutes a step toward enhancing this expertise on new markets as well as meeting Michelin's intention to invest in France, in innovative activities with a high added value and that create jobs.
According to Maude Portigliatti, business director, high-technology materials, Michelin wants to position AirCaptif as the European leader in ultralight, high-technology inflatable structures. For example, inflatable structures for medical use represent an average annual global growth rate of 12%.
This is the latest in a series of moves by Michelin toward diversification. Others include:
- the creation of the AddUp joint venture with French machinery supplier Fives Group S.A. in 2014 in the 3D metal printing market;
- acquisition in 2014 of a "significant" minority ownership stake in Symbio FCell, a Paris-based developer of fuel-cell technology, and subsequent creation in 2019 of a joint venture with Faurecia group for hydrogen mobility incorporating Symbio,
- acquisition in 2018 of Fenner P.L.C., a producer of conveyor belt solutions and reinforced polymer products; and
- creation of partnership with Altaris Group that incorporates the Solesis regenerative medicine and cellular therapy unit acquired in the Fenner deal.
In addition, Michelin established ResiCare, an autonomous specialist business unit active in adhesive solutions.