Seurat, a metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology and services startup, has announced an ambitious plan to increase its number of employees from 100 to 1,000 by 2025. In a press release announcing this goal, the well-funded Massachusetts-based firm cited the doubling of its workforce over the past year as a primary point in favor of the feasibility of its expansion plan. It also referenced recent news of the Biden administration’s allocation of $7 million from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program.
This is only the beginning of the expansion of the IAC program planned for this decade. The administration has set aside a total of $550 million more in funding for IAC-related initiatives over the next five years, which includes $400 million in grants for manufacturers who implement projects recommended by IAC or another similar assessor. The IAC program, established in 1976, works via 31 assessment centers — each at a participating U.S. public university — that release no-cost analyses aimed at helping small and medium businesses increase the energy efficiency of their industrial processes.
The $7 million just allocated, in addition to creating IACs at five more universities, will also be used to create workforce training programs to familiarize students, as well as apprentice and existing workers, with new technologies and more efficient practices. With an additional amount of funding 80 times the size of this being devoted to the IAC program over the next five years, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to think that it could help add thousands of emerging technologies (including AM) workers to the economy by 2030.
Beyond the potential of that funding for the labor pool in the AM sector as a whole, Seurat is ideally positioned to attract a talented workforce simply from its being headquartered in New England in general, and the Boston area, specifically. Along with the sheer abundance of world-class higher education, it’s hard to imagine an environment with a greater concentration of metal AM activity. And, even with that in mind, Seurat stands out owing to its unique Area Print technology, which utilizes a system of two million tiny points of laser light to print much larger areas of a layer simultaneously than is possible with other laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) machines.
Moreover, in its most recent round of funding, led by the investment arm of Xerox, Seurat gained $21 million, bringing the company’s total investments at this point to about $80 million. One of the other investors included the holding company that owns Porsche, which is extremely bullish on AM. In this vein, Seurat could be an excellent fit for engineers and technicians hoping to work on the series production scale, and to work towards eventual implementation of mass customization.
Finally, the company is also fairly unique in terms of its position as a developer of its own tech that nonetheless operates as a service bureau instead of as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Thus, working at Seurat could allow employees to work on a much wider diversity of products than at a manufacturer/distributor of machines and/or materials.
The company would have to do slightly better than it did the past year, over the next three years, for it to reach its goal. This is obviously lofty, but certainly not impossible, especially given the combination of factors described above. However it turns out, Seurat is astute to focus on the entire industry’s need to push for more workforce training, and I would think that focus will pay off in terms of its likelihood to reach 1,000 employees.
Images courtesy of Seurat
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