AM Investment Strategies
AMS Spring 2023

US Air Force Funds Blue Laser Firm NUBURU to Make 100X Speed Metal 3D Printer


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Blue laser specialist NUBURU is quickly increasing its foothold in the additive manufacturing (AM) space. In addition to receiving a series of patents and establishing a partnership for copper 3D printing with Essentium, the Colorado-based business has just been awarded an Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop a blue laser-based 3D printing solution with area printing technology.

“NUBURU has already pioneered metal welding applications within batteries, e-mobility and consumer electronics, and we are excited to continue expanding our capabilities into metal 3D printing, all with the same powerful blue laser technology,” said Ron Nicol, executive chairman of NUBURU.“ This project will help to bring area printing, with its high throughput capabilities and cost advantages, to key markets such as aerospace, automotive and more.”

A Metal 3D Printer That’s 100X Faster

With funding from the Air Force’s innovation arm, AFWERX, the company aims to develop a new 3D printer relying on NUBURU’s blue laser technology to increase part size and metal density while speeding up builds by 100 times. Moreover, the technology could potentially achieve micron-level resolution, as well as “zero post-processing and part shrinkage.” Those are obviously bold claims, but NUBURU suggests that the ability of metals to absorb blue laser more efficiently, combined with “area printing” would make it possible.

[Image: NUBURU]

The concept of “area printing” is a new and ill-defined one, with really only one company publicly pursuing it. Boston-area startup Seurat is using “2 million points of light” to 3D print metal powder one large segment of a build bed at a time. EOS was, at one time, exploring what seemed to be a similar technique, but we haven’t seen the results of that work. Executive Editor Joris Peels has theorized that Trumpf is capable of its own version of the process. With this military project, NUBURU would be able to achieve further implementation of its blue laser technology in AM but also applied to a method that is unique in itself.

“We are honored to bring the power of blue laser technology and next-generation 3D printing capabilities to the United States military through this contract,” said Mark Zediker PhD, CEO and co-founder of NUBURU. “By combining the absorption advantages of blue lasers with area printing technology, we aim to create larger scale 3D printers that can offer up to100x the printing speed of an infrared laser-based printer with full metal density.  If we are successful, this could allow the military to build replacement parts for older aircraft that have been obsoleted by the original suppliers and can otherwise take months to procure.  This would greatly diminish the time required to build and replace critical components and would allow aircraft to return to operational readiness more quickly.”

NUBURU Aims to Go Public

Founded in 2015, NUBURU is still a young company; however, it believes that it will be able to accelerate its growth through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company, TWND Corp. (NYSE: TWND). The pre-IPO value of the company is estimated at $350 million, with a price of $10.00 per share. The boards of each firm have approved the transaction unanimously and expect to complete the deal in early 2023, at which point the new business entity would be traded under the ticker symbol “BURU.”

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