It’s easy to forget that Voodoo Manufacturing hasn’t been around for very long – less than two years, in fact. The service bureau was launched in October of 2015 and has only picked up speed since. Formed by a team of ex-MakerBot engineers, Voodoo Manufacturing knew exactly what it was doing from the start, and has racked up an impressive number of accomplishments over the last year or so. Recently, the company launched Project Skywalker, a fully functional, robot-operated 3D printer cluster, as part of an effort to make its factory fully automated and to reduce costs by 90% over the next three years.
Shortly before that, Voodoo Manufacturing announced that it had received $1.4 million in seed funding at the beginning of what’s turning out to be a rather lucrative year for the service bureau. Today, the company revealed that it has brought in another $5 million in seed funding, bringing the total to $6.4 million. The round was led by General Catalyst, with participation from NextView Ventures, 645 Ventures, and Y Combinator’s Continuity Fund. Voodoo Manufacturing graduated from the Y Combinator program recently.
“There is currently a lot of discussion around robotics and job automation,” said Max Friefeld, Co-Founder and CEO of Voodoo Manufacturing. “The truth is, as AI-enabled robots become more capable and collaborative, there will be new demand for jobs that require human skill-sets, like system maintenance and customer support. This will redefine what it means to be a factory worker and we’re excited help make the United States a hub for manufacturing innovation once again with the help of our amazing investors.”
Voodoo Manufacturing plans to use this latest round of funding to expand into new verticals, such as marketing and promotional products. Further automation is also a priority, and the company will continue to work to automate much of the repetitive labor in the factory, such as build plate removal and replacement, which is what the Skywalker system was designed to do.
“While the last wave of desktop 3D printers delivered affordable and accessible technology, Voodoo finally brings digital manufacturing to scale,” said Spencer Lazar, partner, General Catalyst. “Bridging the gap between idea and production has long been the dream of makers. Voodoo’s approach to the 3D printing process incorporates automation and networking, yielding the fastest turnaround times at the best prices. We are excited to support the team.”
As Friefeld has said in the past, the effort to automate the factory won’t result in the loss of any jobs – in fact, it will create more jobs as automating the low-level tasks will enable employees to be delegated to more high-priority work, and thus will allow the business to grow further.
“Over time, this leverage will enable Voodoo to grow and continue hiring more people to work both within our factory and other departments (i.e. as our business grows we’ll need more customer support, sales, marketing, etc.) We don’t think of automation as a zero-sum game, where a robot gaining tasks means that a person must lose tasks (or their job),” Friefeld told us in a recent interview. “This is true because manufacturing demand and output in the United States, the World, and at Voodoo, is growing rather than staying constant or shrinking. This is a trend we expect will continue, mostly thanks to the efficiencies gained by automation.”
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