Focused on disrupting centuries-old manufacturing techniques and challenging existing powder bed fusion (PBF) companies, Seurat Technologies has built a pioneering 3D metal printing process that can compete with the volumes, quality, and price points of traditional manufacturing, while simultaneously offsetting carbon emissions. Ever since emerging from stealth mode in 2021, the startup’s innovative technology has caught the attention of major corporations in a wide range of industries, all of them interested in Seurat’s new method of beam manipulation, which can deliver two million points of laser light into a 15-millimeter square area.
Now Seurat announced it has raised $21 million in a new financing round, less than seven months after closing its previous funding, as it looks to speed the development and commercialization of its patented additive manufacturing (AM) technology called Area Printing, and build new 3D metal printing production systems. The funds will also help scale to support increased customer interest, grow the team, and fulfill the promise of enabling localized, high-volume manufacturing with all the flexibility and benefits of 3D printing at a price point that can unlock industrial production for the first time.
The extension Series B round was led by Xerox Ventures, the investment arm of the American corporation that bears the same name, and Japan venture capital firm SIP Global Partners, with participation from existing investors Capricorn’s Technology Impact Fund, True Ventures, Porsche Automobil Holding SE, and Maniv Mobility. The new funding follows the Wilmington, Massachusetts-headquartered startup’s $41.5 million Series B raise in June 2021, bringing Seurat’s total funding to $79.4 million.
Seurat’s origin story can be traced to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoD) ’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) more than a decade ago when mechanical engineer James DeMuth––Seurat co-founder and CEO––was working on a nuclear fusion energy project, designing a reaction chamber that could withstand the extreme temperature swings that happen when lasers are used to produce energy.
To withstand the intense fatigue and temperatures of the fusion environment, DeMuth and his colleagues realized they needed special alloys that could not be welded but could be 3D printed. After much trial and error, they adapted a patterned light method already in development at Livermore Labs for other purposes. By 2015, DeMuth and co-founder Erik Toomre had proved that the technology would work for metal 3D printing too and believed it could outpace legacy 3D printing techniques that have gained maturity and momentum but still present trade-offs when it comes to speed, quality, scale, and cost. By January 2016, the duo had secured the technology license from LLNL for their process and began fundraising and commercializing the technology.
“Seurat’s mission is to make manufacturing better in every way by embracing the agility and design freedom of 3D printing, but not at the same expense,” explains DeMuth. “Area Printing decouples resolution and speed, which is the secret sauce to making 3D printing a high-volume process. We are working with the world’s largest manufacturers in migrating their designs to Area Printing to help them gain lead-time, cost, and quality advantages while making a positive environmental impact.”
Funds from the extension series B round will be used towards building Seurat’s production-grade system, which is targeted to produce parts at $300 per kilogram, comparable to parts produced by machining. By 2025, Seurat anticipates lowering manufacturing costs to $150 per kilogram, similar to castings. However, as the company grows, its tech is expected to make the $1 trillion metal manufacturing market fully accessible to additive manufacturing.
But that’s not all. Seurat’s Area Printing technology aims to decarbonize manufacturing, one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions. By 2025, the company anticipates displacing 0.15 gigatonnes (GT) of carbon dioxide, equivalent to 15 billion gallons of gasoline consumed. And by 2030, it expects to displace 2.5 GT. To get this done, Seurat’s strategy is not through machine sales. Instead, it qualifies parts for Area Printing through its Area Printing Production (APP) Program.
Once parts are qualified, manufacturing will take place at localized print depots close to the customer. After graduation from the APP program, customers will have a reproducible and repeatable part ready for serial production. So far, Seurat says it has deals with seven of the world’s largest automotive, aerospace, energy, and industrial companies to begin commercializing the technology this year.
This unprecedented methodology will also help address supply chain challenges that have arisen in the last two years due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. For example, in the last few weeks, top carmakers like Toyota and Volkswagen have shut down operations temporarily at their China facilities as the pandemic outbreak ensues, hinting at signs of trouble as the omicron variant begins to spread in the world’s biggest auto production hub.
Just like that, companies are racing to shift manufacturing processes, aiming for in-house production to overcome the uncertain future ahead. Once commercialized, options like Seurat’s technology could turn into an ideal solution, which is probably why Porsche SE, GM, and other manufacturing leaders are investing in it.
Undoubtedly, companies need new solutions that decrease their carbon footprint and create a more resilient supply chain. Seurat explains that to advance the world’s net-zero goals, address supply chain challenges, and reshore manufacturing, its Area Printing process is powered by 100% renewable energy and will help companies migrate manufacturing from castings and other traditional fabrication methods to achieve high-volume production and reduce harmful environmental pollutants. However, as 3DPrint.com Executive Editor Joris Peels says, “it’s too early to tell if Seurat will be able to commercialize its technology successfully.”
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