Stratasys spinout Evolve Additive Solutions (EAS) has developed a unique approach to mass polymer 3D printing, a prospect that has attracted $30 million in funding from 3D Ventures and its affiliates. This brings the startup’s total investments to $56.4 million, with the latest batch meant to accelerate the sale of EAS’s scaled volume production (SVP) technology in the U.S., Europe, and Canada.
EAS’s SVP system runs on the company’s Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process (STEP), which applies a similar electrophotographic imaging process seen in photocopiers to 3D printing. The SVP platform electrostatically charges a roller, which passes over a build material and draws the plastic onto the roller in the shape of an object layer. Next, the particles are transferred onto a conveyor belt, which moves the layer to a build platform. There, it is fused onto the preceding layers.
Obtaining backing from such notable firms as LEGO and Stanley Black and Decker, the company went on to sell its first commercial SVP system in July 2021. In our coverage of that news, Executive Editor Joris Peels tossed around ideas as to who the customer could have been. Now, with a new round of investment led by 3D Ventures, it will be able to deploy this system more quickly.
3D Ventures is an investment vehicle with industry veterans as principles. Hugh Evans was senior vice president of Corporate Development and Digitization for 3D Systems for six years and sits on the boards of several startups, including 3D Systems spinout Culinary Printworks as well as ZVerse. Joe Allison was the former CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and Wally Loewenbaum was the chairperson of 3D Systems for 22 years.
“I have printed many parts over the course of my career, and in my opinion the Evolve SVP system is the best 3D printer capable of competing directly with injection molding in terms of part quality, part cost and throughput,” said Joe Allison, Managing Partner of 3D Ventures.
“Funding from 3D Ventures reflects their confidence in our business model, our growth trajectory and our ability to meet a need in the additive manufacturing marketplace,” stated Steve Chillscyzn, CEO and Founder of Evolve. “We are now balanced with excellent backing in place from both the strategic and investment partners. This investment presents a major step forward in fueling our growth and better positioning ourselves as a manufacturing solutions organization.”
Though the parts printed with the SVP aren’t the tallest, measuring up to 3.9 inches high, the throughput and detail of STEP parts is remarkable. The system prints at a rate of some 14 seconds per part (for a specific ABS bracket), allowing for the production of 768 components in a single build that took three hours to complete. It features dimensional accuracy of 600 dpi, minimum feature size of 42 microns, and layer heights of .001 to .003 inches. With that in mind, I have high expectations for the technology and look forward to seeing some of its customers come forward with specific use cases.
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