3D Printing Business: Inside Desktop Metal

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Burlington, Massachusetts is home to the most recent unicorn to emerge from the 3D printing industry: Desktop Metal. On a recent excursion to Boston, I enjoyed the opportunity to spend the morning with the innovative metal additive manufacturing company and its energetic CEO, Ric Fulop. The company emerged with guns blazing earlier this year, including an unignorable presence at RAPID + TCT 2017, where the company was almost literally everywhere. Expanding metal 3D printing capabilities to the office with its intriguing Studio system and soon bringing larger-scale possibilities through its Production system, Desktop Metal promises accessible metal additive manufacturing in a new way.

The company was founded in 2015, drawing together an experienced and well-funded group of technical minds to bring about a new order in metal 3D printing. Today, Desktop Metal employs approximately 150 engineers on-site, as the recently expanded office space is home to those working on the roadmaps for the next- and next-next generations of innovation.

“I’m excited about the next 10 years,” Fulop told me enthusiastically over coffee. “We’re taking metal where it’s never been. We’re taking it into the office, and into production at one-twentieth the cost of existing powder bed fusion technologies.”

Walking into their office, visitors are greeted immediately by Desktop Metal’s two metal 3D printing setups, the Studio and Production systems. The space feels expansive, and is still growing. This newer space is home to the expanding team and technology, which each department set up in dedicated areas around the building. I had the opportunity to briefly visit with some of the team as Fulop and I walked through the space on my tour, including familiar faces in software, sintering, marketing, and other key efforts.

Unfortunately, much of what is happening now at Desktop Metal is under wraps, though I can say I’m definitely excited about what we’ll see coming out of the company in the near- to intermediate-term future. Several of the parts I was able to examine show off the capabilities of their systems, with fine details at high resolutions in several sizes of builds.

I examined parts from Ric’s case of builds [Photo from Tuan TranPham]

The office was buzzing with activity during my visit this week. Desktop Metal will be seeing a busy autumn as shipping begins in earnest and events around the world will be set to showcase their metal additive manufacturing technologies. We’ll be hearing more soon from the company as its products make their way onto the marketplace.

A big throughline running through the day was a spirit of camaraderie; a recurring refrain among everyone on-site I talked with was that the team is made up of the best possible group of people. Everyone working at Desktop Metal is there for a reason, most with strong backgrounds in the 3D printing industry and bringing their experience to the fore of this ambitious young endeavor.

On-site work on every aspect of the technology highlights that ambition and technology, as well as dedicated attention to developing viable solutions for metal offerings.

CEO Ric Fulop

The industry has seemed receptive to the technology, which is lighting a fire under ongoing developments. Indeed, the company, named one of the 50 Smartest by the MIT Review, has seen great response. While the rest of 2017 will be keeping the Desktop Metal team very busy indeed, they are also already looking forward to what 2018 has in store, and beyond, as they continue to grow into their place in the industry.

[Photos: Sarah Goehrke]

 

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