Elementum 3D spinout Fortius Metals, a wire arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) contract manufacturer, has raised $2 million in a seed round to grow the company by scaling its manufacturing capacity and accelerating its go-to-market strategy. Although the company already counts angel investors as backers, this time around, the investment was led by AM Ventures, a leading venture capital firm in industrial 3D printing. AM Ventures is also one of the networking sponsors at the 2023 edition of the Additive Manufacturing Strategies (AMS) event in New York, where attendees will listen to dozens of company leaders and experts discuss the fast-growing world of AM.
Based out of Louisville, Colorado, Fortius Metals was founded last year and uses patented technology to introduce high-performance metal alloys that meet the demands of aerospace customers and robotic welding fabricators. Fortius Metals has been initially focused on aircraft-grade aluminum welding wire for arc and laser-directed energy deposition (DED).
The startup was formed to develop wire-based products for use in robotic welding applications, which represent new markets and products. According to Fortius Metals, its welds are often twice the strength of incumbent commercial options for welding and 3D printing, which will help customers increase design performance, improve product quality and reduce weight.
On the aerospace side, NASA is one of Fortius Metals’ first customers, as reported by Company Week. The startup is also currently building a robotic laser-welding cell with German industrial machine maker Trumpf as it lays the foundation for the automotive market. Aiming to meet the demands of the aerospace, automotive, and defense industries, Fortius Metals plans to use its technology to deliver solutions that weren’t previously possible with robotic 3D printing.
“We are looking forward to supplying customers who are already requesting our proprietary 6061 aluminum welding wire that solves traditional ‘hot cracking’ problems,” said Fortius Metals Founder and CEO Jeffrey Lints. “We are proud to be a Colorado company along with many of our space and aircraft customers.”
Existing aluminum additive welding wire is 60% weaker than traditional aircraft aluminum, says the company. Instead, Fortius Metals welds are just as strong as traditional aircraft aluminum, which helps customers increase design performance and reduce weight.
Lints’ vision is to really impact re-shoring the U.S. supply chain while supporting highly skilled jobs in American factories.
From the start, Fortius Metals quickly caught the attention of a group of super angels that infused $1.4 million in a pre-seed round in September 2021, just two months after its creation. The innovative metal 3D printing company said the funds had surpassed its goal by 40% and were used to launch the company, accelerate its initial go-to-market strategy, and help expand its two-person team.
Only two months later, the company received a $250,000 grant from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade as part of the Advanced Industries Accelerator (AIA) Program, which funded 22 Colorado companies and five researchers with a total of $6.4 million.
Welding the future
As with the other 17 companies in AM Ventures portfolio, Fortius Metals’ innovative technology could accelerate the adoption of large-scale additive manufacturing. According to AM Ventures Senior Associate Philip Schultheiss, the team around Jeffrey Lints “combines the necessary skills and has extensive know-how to revolutionize wire-based materials for additive manufacturing and robotic welding, enabling stronger and lighter fabrication.”
Further commenting on this new investment opportunity, Schultheiss said, “Jeffrey and his talented team are developing not only a way of making high strength metals readily available for large scale printing and traditional welding but also increasing their mechanical properties, an investment was just logical.”
Fortius Metals’ position as a potential supplier to technologically cutting-edge aerospace and defense customers inspired AM Ventures to navigate complex CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) clearance rules for their investment to open the door to a long-term partnership with Fortius Metals.
AM Ventures is the Networking Sponsor for the Bavarian Beer & Pretzels Networking Reception at the Additive Manufacturing Strategies business summit in New York City, February 7-9, 2023. Register for the event here to learn from and network with the most exciting companies and individuals in AM
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