This winter, not long after Nano Dimension brought its innovative DragonFly 2020 3D printer to CES 2017, the company surprised everyone when it announced that it would be moving into a brand new area of development. While Nano Dimension was still in the middle of delivering its PCB printer to multitudes of beta customers, it would also begin to develop 3D printed ceramic components for the aerospace and aviation sectors. This new area of development was made possible after the company received a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority, formerly known as the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy.
The independent entity nurtures and develops the country’s innovation resources, in order to create economic prosperity. Today, Nano Dimension announced that it received a budget of NIS 585,000 (roughly $165,000) from the Israel Innovation Authority in order to finance a project that centers around the development of new 3D ceramic materials. The materials will be used in inkjet technology, to allow for 3D printing of high-thickness and low-density objects for space applications. The Israel Innovation Authority will finance 30% of the budget, while Nano Dimension will be responsible for paying royalties on future sales up to the full amount of the grant.
Nano Dimension isn’t alone in its efforts: the project will be completed in collaboration with Semplastics LLC, one of the leading suppliers of engineered components for multiple industries. The company has provided precision plastic parts to the semiconductor industry for nearly two decades, and three years ago it produced the thickest polymer-derived ceramic (PDC) sample in the world to date; many in the industry didn’t think it was possible to produce a 25 mm thick sample until Semplastics achieved it. Its unique PDC technology has previously been used in space applications for NASA, so it’s clearly a good partner for Nano Dimension’s new project.
“We are very excited to collaborate with Nano Dimension on this innovative project. Building on our successful work with NASA, we see this work opening up even more applications for our unique ceramic materials,” said Bill Easter, Semplastics CEO.
With respect to the collaboration, the two companies have entered into a non-binding letter of intent. The project will center around the use of Semplastics’ novel ceramic material precursors, with Nano Dimension’s 3D inkjet printing technology, to produce ceramic objects for the aerospace industry with low density and high thickness.
Ceramic is an important element for multiple applications in space, due to its thermal resistance and mechanical strength. Unfortunately, most of the current technologies used to produce ceramic elements take too long and are cost-prohibitive and energy-consuming throughout the whole process; in addition, they don’t support the creation of complex structures. However, high-resolution 3D printing can create these geometrical shapes with ceramic materials, so small batches of designated ceramic objects can be produced for less time and money.
Semplastics has developed a novel ceramic material, which is used in prototype space applications for NASA, and this material will be used for the 3D printing project with Nano Dimension. A modified resin will be developed for use with Nano Dimension’s 3D printer during this project, which will result in a lightweight, mechanically stable object – perfect for outer space.
It’s been a good year so far for Nano Dimensions: in addition to the ceramic collaboration with Semplastics and continuing to deliver its DragonFly 2020 to beta customers, last month the company announced that it had raised $4 million from an institutional investor through a private placement agreement. Nano Dimension has also signed private placement agreements with several Israeli investors this week, raising NIS 17.1 million (about $4.8 million). Together, the institutional investors that participated in the agreement – Phoenix Investment and Finances Ltd. and Shotfut Menayot Israel HaPhoenix Amitim – will hold an aggregate of about 5.5% of the company’s issued share capital after the issuance.
According to the agreements, Nano Dimension will not issue new securities at a price per share lower than 125% of the price per share in this issuance for a period of six months after the closing date. It will also issue about 4.1 million ordinary shares, as part of the agreements, at a price per share of NIS 4.2 ($5.94 per ADS, or roughly $1.19 per ordinary share); this funding was priced at a minimum discount when compared to market price, and doesn’t include issuance of warrants. Under Israeli securities laws, these issued ordinary shares will be restricted for six months. Discuss in the Nano Dimension forum at 3DPB.com.