Geometric 3D Printing Specialist Metafold Lands $1.78M in Funding

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Metafold, a newcomer in Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) software, has announced a successful seed funding round of $1.78 million (CAD $2.4 million). The Canadian startup, established in 2020, is committed to boosting the widespread acceptance of industrial 3D printing with an emphasis on sustainability.

The startup’s journey began with a team using their different skills to solve problems together. Co-founders Elissa Ross, Daniel Hambleton, and Tom Reslinski, all experienced experts in their respective fields of mathematics, geometry, and architecture, created Metafold while at Mesh Consultants, Hambleton’s geometry consulting agency.

They learned about the challenges of using complex shapes in 3D printing from a project with a big sportswear manufacturer focusing on using lattice geometry to enhance athletic performance. This ongoing project was described as the catalyst for Metafold’s inception.

“We started to realize that this was a much bigger problem,” Ross revealed in an interview with BetaKit.

Since its creation in 2012, Mesh Consultants has provided geometric consulting services to various industries. Metafold is its dedicated arm for 3D printing, specializing in large build volumes of complex geometries like high-surface-area lattices.

“Metafold’s 3D printing technology takes a fundamentally different approach to geometric complexity, which unlocks surprising detail in unprecedented print volumes and high resolution. This creates an accelerated and accessible development process for metamaterials,” stated Hambleton, who is Metafold’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO).

Their unique offering comes as a response to a gap between the capabilities of 3D printing hardware and the software required to exploit their full potential. In response, Metafold has developed an ultra-precise, lightning-speed geometry computation engine for outputting accurate designs for 3D printing complex parts. Metafold’s cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) platform is accessible on any device, making it fast and easy for design and engineering teams to produce optimized parts with the Metafold web application or leverage the Metafold Engine Application Programming Interface (API) to build their own custom tools and integrations.

According to Ross, CEO of Metafold, “Sustainability in manufacturing is ultimately driven by two factors—improving the material consumption of existing fabrication methods and designing for optimality over the lifetime use of manufactured goods. 3D printing achieves those goals and has the potential to be even more impactful with the right digital infrastructure.”

Metafold created the cloud-based SaaS tool. Image courtesy of Metafold.

Since the founders started Metafold, it has gained rapid traction in various industries, including biotech and, of course, sportswear, delivering on their need for optimized structural design, testing, and production.

Metafold’s technology goes beyond what is commonly achievable with 3D printing systems. They use standard 3D printing materials such as polymers, ceramics, and metals but also can navigate new material spaces through the precise control of the geometry of printed objects, particularly lattices.

Metafold’s technology can handle these complex lattice geometries, or metamaterials, opening up new roads for industries ranging from aerospace to footwear and filtration systems.

Ross, who has experience working with lattice geometry and metamaterials, says, “As mathematicians in the design and manufacturing industries, we’ve seen how difficult it is to design, print, and test. We believe our new approach will facilitate printing at the frontiers of scientific discovery and industrial advancements.”

A set of lattice samples was created using Metafold’s 3D printing technology. Image courtesy of Metafold.

The seed funding round, led by Differential Ventures – a New York-based seed-stage VC fund investing in AI, machine learning, and data science startups – saw significant contributions from Active Impact Investments, a backer from Metafold’s previous round of funding in August 2022, which raised $386,300 (CAD 500,000). Jetstream and StandUp Ventures, both with an interest in climate tech, also participated in what has been described by Metafold as an “oversubscribed” round.

David Magerman, founding partner at Differential Ventures, applauded the Metafold team and their innovative approach: “Metafold’s technology will be game-changing for designing and visualizing complex structures in 3D printing, making currently impossible designs possible.”

Further strengthening Metafold’s financial position, the startup was awarded funding two months ago from Sustainable Development Technology Canada (or Technologies du Développement Durable Canada). This latest recognition makes Metafold one of 28 innovative Canadian startups to benefit from a $2.8 million fund reserved for emerging technologies.

With the newly secured funds, Metafold plans to tackle the most challenging geometry problems interfering with 3D printing’s mainstream adoption, accelerating its mission to revolutionize the sector.

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