General Lattice, a Chicago-based startup that develops software for designing optimal lattice structures that can be fabricated via 3D printing, has secured $1 million in pre-seed capital led by AP Ventures, the strategic investment arm of engineering service provider All Points Logistics and a backer of pioneering technologies that aim to solve global challenges.
The startup plans to use the new capital to bolster several initiatives related to exploring and integrating advanced lattice geometries. Notably, the funding will allow General Lattice to invest resources into a recently secured research and development contract with the U.S. Army’s Development Command Soldier Center (DEVCOM-SC) to make lattices for the military division’s combat helmet. Additionally, a portion of the new capital will be dedicated to expanding the startup’s commercial and governmental customer base in the United States and developing parametric design tools to simplify lattice generation processes.
According to General Lattice CEO Nick Florek, the support of All Points Logistics will “allow us to create an environment for passionate innovators in the computational design and digital manufacturing industry.” Florek also highlighted that the company’s twenty years of experience in deploying optimized practices to government projects and commercial companies would be important for General Lattice in the future.
All Points Logistics is a leading engineering, software development, and technology firm that provides high-value services and solutions to various government contract vehicles, including NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), and other government customers and commercial companies. Headquartered in Merritt Island, Florida, All Points has successfully supported several Lockheed Martin space projects since 2013 and even received awards for outstanding work on the Artemis program and small business support on NASA’s Orion program. In addition, it has been engaged in several high-profile space projects, like the Human Landing System proposal during the fall of 2020, NASA space probe Lucy, and NASA asteroid-study and sample-return mission OSIRIS-REx.
General Lattice stated that the funds raised come at an ideal time when the startup is planning on scaling to meet strong demand from a “burgeoning AM industry.” Furthermore, having identified lattice architectures as an indispensable element for success in additive applications, it views this early-stage capital as an opportunity to demonstrate the unique capabilities of lattice structures further and facilitate the widespread adoption of AM technology.
Founded in 2018, General Lattice began by helping clients design, prototype, and manufacture successful additive manufacturing (AM) applications. The startup developed unique design methodologies and workflows by working through each part of the product development process. Today, the company has developed a reputation for leveraging the flexibility of 3D printing, enabling customers to create personalized product offerings by offering workflow automation tools and custom software development services that take out the human labor in complex design scenarios.
A few months after starting the company, co-founders Nick Florek, Alex Rhoades, and Marek Moffett established a partnership with 3D printing unicorn Carbon, becoming part of the firm’s 70-plus startup partnership ecosystem. In Fall 2020, General Lattice introduced a next-generation AM design toolkit, the GL Studio, and became immersed in several exciting projects with leading businesses.
For example, with 3D printer manufacturer Boston Micro Fabrication (BMF), the duo used BMF’s innovative 3D micro-fabrication equipment based on Projection Micro Stereolithography (PµSL) technology to create lattice structures and refocus the manufacturing to microscale parts, opening up new possibilities and applications. General Lattices also recently built a plug-in GL Software for McNeel‘s Rhino 3D CAD modeling software explicitly designed for AM and providing users intuitive latticing tools that make innovating with AM easy while delivering superior control and accuracy.
Additionally, through its recently secured contract with DEVCOM-SC, General Lattice plans to work with All Points Logistics and 3D print service GoProto to make lattices for the military division’s combat helmet. The firm has already chosen 3D printers, materials, and desired performance characteristics to produce the helmet’s suspension system and impact absorption. General Lattice will test 3D printed lattices to determine the accuracy of the firm’s predictive modeling software, allowing DEVCOM-SC to use the firm’s predictive toolset to explore lattice padding profiles for various uses.
General Lattice had already explored helmet designs and head protection through prototypes to demonstrate its ability to create tunable headwear protection by enabling actual performance benefits and one-to-one customization. It took a similar approach on a concept shoe developed virtually with Belgium service bureau Ziggzagg, software development startup ELSE Tech (ATOMLab Milan), customized shoe fashion manufacturer OneFID GmbH, and Lubrizol 3D Printing Solutions, whose M95A 3D TPU material was used to produce the shoe. On a separate project, showcased at last week’s RAPID + TCT 2021 show in Chicago, General Lattice worked with GoProto to demonstrate how AM users can reduce cost and lead time for production rubber parts by creating 3d printed TPA elastomer components for a radio-controlled (RC) car printed on HP machines and then vapor smoothed on GoProto’s AMT PostPro 3D. Saving costs and making better products is the objective for General Lattice and what it’s working toward with its software; the $1 million pre-seed funding will undoubtedly help the company expand and engage in new partnerships with strategic players in the AM industry.
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