San Francisco-based startup Fictiv has taken on $35 million in a funding round led by 40 North Ventures, with participation from Honeywell, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., Adit Ventures, and M20 (the investment arm of Microsoft), along with previous backers that include Accel, G2VP and Bill Gates. This brings the company’s total investment to $92 million. The latest Series D investment is meant to drive the company’s digital manufacturing platform forward, including its supply chain operations and network infrastructure.
Fictiv bills itself as the Amazon Web Services of hardware, meaning that acts as a hub for customers looking to manufacture hardware by providing a place to design, price and order components made via digital manufacturing. Early on, Fictiv was producing prototypes for Silicon Valley startups, using 3D printing, CNC machining, injection molding and urethane casting to make designs for VR and other pieces of technology. Customers would use the startup’s cloud software to create and order parts, with Fictiv connecting them to the best manufacturers.
The company has since built its reputation such that it is taking on multinational giants and aiding them in their limited production runs. This includes Honeywell, for whom Fictiv produces hardware components for the aerospace division.
“There is an immense opportunity for digital transformation in the manufacturing sector,” said Kamal Vasagiri, Director of Venture Capital Investments at Honeywell. “Fictiv’s traction with enterprise companies like Honeywell, combined with the potential for scale inherent in their digital ecosystem model, gives us confidence that Fictiv is truly building the future of manufacturing.”
Both the pandemic and the trade war initiated by the U.S. against China helped elucidate the benefits of Fictiv, as well as 3D printing and digital supply chains as a whole. By shifting production away from China to other parts of the continent, including India, and to the United States, Fictiv was able to weather the supply chain disruption brought about by the initial bouts of COVID-19. As the virus went global, the startup moved production once more and, now that trade has normalized with China once more, Fictiv has been able to reestablish those manufacturing operations.
We’ve seen similar possibilities emerge with other digital manufacturers, such as Fathom, Xometry, 3D Hubs (now owned by Proto Labs) and more, all of whom can feasibly produce parts using a supply chain made flexible with 3D printing. The “The Market for Metal Additive Manufacturing Services: 2021-2029” from SmarTech Analysis suggests as much. Like some of these other firms, Fictiv applies machine learning to provide design and manufacturability feedback to customers. However, it also claims to offer “radical transparency” that ensures enhanced traceability, including real-time photos of components and inspection information from the factory floor.
What the latest investment indicates is that 3D printing services are increasingly popular as the world really does seem to embrace digital manufacturing as the solution to supply chain disruption. As larger industrial customers adopt technologies like 3D printing, these service providers are becoming essential for smaller part runs from 1,000 to 10,000, which will only increase as the technology improves. All of these firms are also expanding their production technologies beyond just 3D printing, so we’re still not a panacea for all of the world’s manufacturing problems.
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