Swedish startup Wematter is on a mission to democratize 3D printers and has raised €4 million ($4.7 million) in its latest funding round to scale up its advanced selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, as well as expand sales, marketing, and production efforts. The new investment was raised through a directed new share issue of €2.6 million ($3 million) to institutional and private investors, including major owners of Betsson, one of the largest companies within the European iGaming industry, and an undisclosed additive manufacturing (AM) industrialist. Existing owners, management, and the board of directors completed the final funding amount with €1.4 million ($1.6 million).
Since being launched in 2014, Wematter has raised about €9.7 million ($11.4 million) over five rounds. The startup’s previous funding announcement raised in 2019 from a Venture round was €3.9 million ($4.6 million), but this latest investment is the largest in company history. Wematter stated that in 2020, its sales organization grew, incorporating five new members, bringing its employee count to more than 25. The most recent team members have previous experience in scaleup companies and AM systems backgrounds, who have already worked with a large part of the Nordic region.
Wematter founder and CEO Robert Kniola commented that he is personally proud to attract people who have made the same journey in other Swedish companies within the industry, including employees with 30 years of experience in 3D printing. He said this “proves our attractiveness as a company, and it gives us excellent conditions to take the next step in our growth forward.”
The new funds will be primarily used to employ staff in sales and continue running research projects for new materials and other product developments, said Kniola. The startup is also looking at efficiently scaling up the production process with external suppliers to plan for the long term.
Finding venture capital during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – which began in March 2020 – has been a challenge for the Swedish industrial sector, revealed Håkan Dahllöf, Chair of the board of directors of Wematter. As one of the company investors, Dahllöf believes that the combination of a sustainable product and establishing a long-term relationship sets Wematter apart from the competition and is why customers choose their product. The latest issue of directed new shares enables a market introduction and a production startup, which, together with broader ownership, paves the way for an upcoming listing, revealed the investor. Swedish companies usually list at home, usually in one of two regulated markets, the NASDAQ Stockholm and First North, the NASDAQ Stockholm’s junior market. Hopefully, we will hear more about this move in the future.
Located on-premises in the southern Swedish city of Linköping, Wematter has developed a flagship product, the Gravity 2021 SLS 3D-printer, which together with accompanying equipment and software are rented out as an AM system solution to customers wanting to accelerate their product development. Wematter states that this is an ideal sustainable long-term rental model for companies found mainly in the manufacturing industry and technology consultants, the healthcare industry, and medical technology businesses.
Gravity uses the company’s patented Aurora powder printing material, which is made from renewable sources and can be recycled for new print jobs. After each print job, the remaining powder is collected with an Inertia vacuum unit. Then, the used powder is mixed with 50% new powder to ensure that all mechanical properties are maintained. Finally, the combined new and recycled material is transferred into Aurora powder containers and sent to a Gravity 3D printer. This innovative process is done at Wematter’s office and quality tested in its lab. Up to 100% of the used powder can be recycled, depending on the material and how many times it has been re-used, making this a fascinating and sustainable process.
A few example prints from the Gravity SLS printer include industrial and commercial applications like moving parts for a drone arm, different parts for tailored patient prosthetics, and even medals for race competitions. Within the healthcare industry, Wematter even has the possibility to print complex fractures for surgical planning, with the help of modern software, based on CT-data. In this case, the prints are made of biodegradable plastic and have been used in real surgeries. The startup has developed bio-based 3D-printed orthosis that replaced traditional orthopedic plaster for the first time in Sweden, all done within the framework of the Innovative Materials Arena (IMA), a regional initiative focused on driving innovation within the field of materials science and production engineering.
With Wematter, companies only pay for the prints they need in-house and on-demand, without worrying about machine, service, or installation costs, plus they get free updates, lower liquidity burden, and a cloud-connected system that will self-diagnose and troubleshoot online. Focusing on user experience by developing more accessible, easy-to-use, and sustainable SLS machines, Wematter has attracted top customers like Siemens, Volvo, and Husqvarna. The company, founded by design engineers working with FDM and SLA 3D printers and also injection molding and CNC-milling, has delivered 3D printers and printed parts to car manufacturers, hospitals, and airplane factories.
In 2021, Wematter expanded its 3D printing ecosystem with new hardware for improved mechanical properties. Its novel Atmosphere module is an option for the Gravity ecosystem that improves SLS 3D printing. Available starting in the spring of 2021, Wematter claims Atmosphere provides improved control of build chamber conditions in the Gravity printer for increased part density, surface finish, and mechanical performance. Additionally, the startup began a collaboration in AM product development and prototyping with Etteplan, a provider of industrial equipment and plant engineering solutions for the world’s leading companies in the manufacturing industry. Etteplan already has a strong position within AM today, but the ultimate goal is to develop the company’s skills further and assist all offices and engineers with SLS prints.
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