Next week, RAPID + TCT 2021 kicks off in Chicago, and as a pre-cursor to the event, the virtual SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit is being held today, September 9th, 2021, focused on 3D printing market activity and the current investment environment. During this half-day event, industry experts from 3DPrint.com, SmarTech Analysis, and Stifel will discuss topics like venture and private equity, investments, and M&A in the public and private markets with other industry leaders, including Benny Buller, the Founder and CEO of VELO3D, which has been majorly shaking up the metal 3D printing sector.
Buller was interested in metal AM before founding VELO3D, and spent some time analyzing the technology. He realized that in order to speed up AM adoption, engineers needed to adopt a new additive process, as well as a new DfAM process, and started at square one to develop a new approach to metal 3D printing that would allow engineers to adopt the technology one step at a time by negating DfAM. By decreasing the need to redesign parts for 3D printing, it’s easier for engineers and manufacturers to realize just how much potential metal AM has for many applications. In 2014, Buller founded the startup that has ultimately improved on laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) technology.
“We don’t think of ourselves, first and foremost, as a 3D printing company. We think of ourselves more as a company that is serving the manufacturing needs or providing manufacturing technology for a very specific type of industrial low-volume, higher-value customers. When we talk about expanding our portfolio product portfolio, we think about expanding this portfolio in this direction,” Buller told 3DPrint.com in April.
But before bursting right onto the AM scene, the Silicon Valley startup raised $22 million in private funding in 2015 and continued its work in secret, developing what would become its Flow pre-print software, Sapphire hardware, Assure Quality Assurance and Control System, and patented SupportFree 3D printing solution, which offers more design freedom in metal because it can print complex geometries below 45° and overhangs below 5°. VELO3D officially came out of stealth in 2018, and has since raised more than $150 million in funding since its initial round.
“The Velo3D solution minimizes the need for supports reducing typical support volume 3-5 times. It avoids internal supports that prevents the manufacturability or causes laborious post processing with conventional approaches,” Stefan Zschiegner, VELO3D’s Chief Product Officer, told us in 2018.
The privately funded company has qualified its innovative LPBF technology for use with materials like Hastelloy X, Titanium64, nickel superalloy, and Aluminum F357, and its original turnkey Sapphire system, plus the eight-laser Sapphire XC printer, are used for a variety of hard-core applications, such as fuel tanks, heat exchangers, aftermarket gas turbine parts, and rocket components, as well as semiconductors and parts for oilfield drilling.
While VELO3D may have started in stealth mode, the company has been going full steam ahead ever since, working to grow its team in Europe and becoming the sixth additive manufacturing company this year to go public, with a $1.6 billion valuation. Through a merger with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Jaws Spitfire Acquisition Corporation, VELO3D will gain access to more resources so that it can expand into new markets, become a valuable partner to manufacturing companies looking for novel solutions to complex design challenges, and invest in its own product development, engineering capabilities, marketing, sales, and customer support, which will give its flagship Sapphire metal 3D printers even more of a competitive advantage.
“VELO3D partners with the world’s most innovative companies leading the future of space travel, transportation and energy. I am proud that such visionary partners continue to trust VELO3D to build products through methods that were previously impossible,” Buller said about the merger. “With JAWS Spitfire’s long-term partnership, we expect to extend the reach of VELO3D’s technology and bring its solutions to even more customers globally.”
VELO3D and its SPAC partner are expected to go public in the second half of 2021, continuing to operate as VELO3D and listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the “VLD” ticker symbol. The California company has said it would raise up to $500 million through the agreement, which includes proceeds from the merger and from private investment in a $155 million public equity (PIPE) deal.
Buller will certainly have a lot to discuss about the 3D printing market, and his company’s role in it, during today’s SmarTech – Stifel AM Investment Strategies 2021 summit. You can register for free here.
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