In October 2015, a 3D printing startup called Desktop Metal emerged out of Burlington, Massachusetts and immediately caught the attention of major investors. Despite the fact that they had no working prototype to present at the very beginning, companies as prominent as Stratasys plus several large venture capital firms were confident enough to invest $14 million in the fledgling metal 3D printing company after only two months of existence. Desktop Metal’s stellar team, which includes experts from MIT as well as former employees of SOLIDWORKS and other highly respected companies, certainly played some role in earning the faith of investors from the beginning, but as their ideas have developed and moved closer to being market-ready, excitement about the startup has only increased.
By July of last year, Desktop Metal had already pulled in a total of $52 million in funding, with additional investments from big names like GE Ventures and Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures. This week, the company announced that their total equity funding has risen to $97 million after a lucrative Series C investment round that drew $45 million in investments from GV (formerly Google Ventures), BMW i Ventures and Lowe’s Ventures.
“The additive manufacturing industry is going through a dynamic evolution, and Desktop Metal is helping to shape that,” said Andy Wheeler, General Partner at GV. “The company has an impressive product vision, a proven team, and the right level of deep technical experience to bring the promise of metal 3D printing to life.”
Desktop Metal will use the additional funding to continue to develop their end-to-end metal 3D printing system and scale production in advance of their product launch later this year. The company’s mission is to accelerate the integration of metal 3D printing in all facets of design and manufacturing, and their staff is a veritable all-star team of luminaries in the areas of 3D printing, materials science, engineering and software. Led by co-founder and CEO by Ric Fulop, who also co-founded A123 Systems, Desktop Metal’s leadership team also includes:
- Ely Sachs, MIT professor, 3D printing pioneer and inventor of binder jetting
- Chris Schuh, Chairman of MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering Department
- Yet Ming Chiang, MIT professor and materials science expert
- John Hart, leader of MIT’s Mechanosynthesis Group
- Jonah Myerberg, leader in the materials engineering field
- Rick Chin, an early SOLIDWORKS team member and founder of Xpress 3D (acquired by Stratasys)
- Mark Minor, head of marketing for Carbon
Stratasys founder Scott Crump also serves as board observer for Desktop Metal. So no, this isn’t just your average startup.
“Just as plastic 3D printing paved the way for rapid prototyping, metal 3D printing will make a profound impact on the way companies both prototype and mass produce parts across all major industries,” said Fulop. “We are fortunate to have the backing of a leading group of strategic investors who support both our vision and our technology, and who are pivotal in propelling our company forward as we prepare for our product introduction in 2017.”
BMW is particularly interested Desktop Metal’s technology for its potential to be used in the production of 3D printed metal parts for cars. The automotive manufacturer was one of the first in the industry to begin using 3D printing, over 25 years ago, and as the technology evolves, BMW is eager to stay at the forefront.
“Advances in metal 3D printing are driving innovation across a wide range of automotive applications and we are excited to work with Desktop Metal as part of our vision in adopting additive manufacturing at BMW,” said Uwe Higgen, Managing Partner of BMW i Ventures. “From rapid prototyping and printing exceptional quality parts for end-use production, to freedom of design and mass customization, Desktop Metal is shaping the way cars will be imagined, designed and manufactured.”
It’s not often that a company is so hyped – and so well-funded – from such an early stage, but Desktop Metal’s credentials are just one reason they’ve been so exciting to watch. Will their technology live up to expectations when it finally hits the market? There’s no way to know for sure, but I’d say it’s highly unlikely that this company will disappoint. Discuss in the Desktop Metal forum at 3DPB.com.
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