Two years ago, UK-based TOffeeAM raised £1 million pounds to develop its generative design tool for 3D printing. Now, in a round led by Presidio Ventures Europe and East Innovate, with participation from IQ Capital, Type One Ventures, Exor Seed and Excellis, the company raised £5 million in a series A round. The company aims to use the funds to go global, particularly eyeing the U.S. market.
“From our initial investment back in 2019, we recognised the potential in TOffeeAM’s team and technology, and Francesco and his expert team have achieved 100x growth since our investment. Their understanding of both the end customer and technology is testament to the exciting innovations emerging from UK universities,” said Daniel Carew, Principal at IQ Capital.
A spin-off of the Imperial College of London, TOffeeAM was founded by COO Marco Pietropaoli, CEO Francesco Montomoli, and CTO Audrey Gaymann. TOffeeAM is a generative design tool that relies on multiphysics simulation to optimize parts. Essentially the user inputs an STL file and defines their design space. They then specify the boundary conditions and what to optimize for. And, like magic, the software will create the geometry, which can be downloaded for use.
It’s easy to see how the more geometries TOffeeAM has, the better the software could become—how the more computing power it can afford to throw at a problem, the better the geometries may be. The tool could then leverage proprietary, optimal geometries and algorithms to solve for the best geometry.
Of particularly importance is the fact that the software itself does the heavy lifting and optimization, rather than require that an individual designer craft every line or vertex. Compared to other workflows in which the user has to analyze and redesign components using a variety of software packages, TOffeeAM could be very efficient. Specifically for very complex projects, such as cooling systems for aircraft engines, this tool could save companies a great deal of time.
With cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI), TOffeeAM would seem to be a seductive tool for investors and would be an easy morsel for Autodesk or its ilk. The company reportedly boasts marquee customers such as GE, Boeing, and Rolls Royce. One can imagine how TOffeeAM might become valuable and defensible, taking a commanding lead in the market and keeping it.
I’m unsure, however, if companies will trust a cloud-based solution to develop geometries. Also, if TOffeeAM does invent its own geometries, it could patent and protect more IP related to key systems. In what case would an engineering firm want a quick optimization and where would it want to own the geometry outright? In the no man’s land between those things, what will those customers be willing to pay?
I’m excited about the prospects of this technology in the long run. If it works, it could really be a solution to optimize a number of components for additive manufacturing without requiring users to learn all about 3D printing. In turn, this kind of tool could really accelerate the adoption of 3D printing.
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