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Vectoflow Secures €4M to Enhance Aerospace and Energy Instrumentation with 3D Printing

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Vectoflow, a specialist in flow measurement systems, has recently completed a significant funding milestone. The company secured €4 million in a Series A funding round, supported by a group of investors including Bayern Kapital Innovationsfonds II, WN Invest GmbH, ASTO Aerospace & Technology Park GmbH, argo vantage GmbH, Schwarz Holding GmbH, Dr. Rolf Pfeiffer, and seed investors AM Ventures and KfW Bankengruppe.

As detailed in a previous interview with 3DPrint.com, Vectoflow is unique in both its niche and technological approach. By applying additive manufacturing (AM) to the world of probes, the German startup is able to conquer a highly specific, but important market early on in its adoption of 3D printing. At the same time, the company is developing unique methods for producing these small, intricate parts, advancing laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) to print them.

Multiple probes (multi-hole, static pressure, total pressure, temperature) combined into a single probe rake. Image courtesy of Vectoflow.

Due to the size of the components made by the firm, Vectoflow is able to manufacture a larger number of probes within smaller machines. The investment will enable Vectoflow to expand into serial production, focusing on the aerospace and energy sectors, as it broadens its market reach. With products available both directly and through distributors, Vectoflow is set to reach a broader market.

Christian Haigermoser, co-founder and co-CEO of Vectoflow, spoke to these efforts, “We’re preparing for future expansion by strengthening our in-house capabilities. This includes ramping up additive manufacturing, improving part post-processing, optimizing instrumentation assembly, enhancing sensor calibration, and developing software solutions for test rig data acquisition and control. Our extensive know-how in flow instrumentation design, manufacturing, and calibration will play a crucial role in supporting business development across various markets.”

Katharina Kreitz, co-founder and co-CEO, emphasizes leveraging existing customer trust for growth. “Our track record has built trust among our current customers, which we plan to leverage for expansion in existing and new markets. I’m particularly enthusiastic about our ventures into aerospace and wind energy applications, as these are future markets with significant societal relevance.”

A probe 3D printed using 3D MicroPrint’s technology. Image courtesy of 3D MicroPrint.

The company’s expansion plans include increased activities in the U.S., reflecting the significant presence of its customer base in the region. Haigermoser indicated to 3DPrint.com that such a move will allow the company to work with customers more directly, while also covering the requirements of International Traffic in Arms Regulations projects.

“We want to have similar facilities in the US like in Germany, including production and calibration,” Haigermoser said.

Given enough demand, it’s possible that the firm could acquire a large-format metal 3D printer, possibly from AMCM, with which to make huge numbers of probes. This is exactly what fellow AM Ventures portfolio startup Conflux Technologies did for its heat exchangers. Haigermoser confirmed this possibility, but the exact machine brand and type has not been determined.

“This also includes 3D printers, whether they will be from AMCM or not has to be decided still. We certainly aim for printers with the capability to fulfill high tolerance standards,” Haigermoser said. Because Vectoflow already counts Siemens, Toyota, and Airbus among its clients, such a demand wouldn’t be entirely surprising.

The wind energy market is only growing, both in terms of deployment and the size of the machines. Meanwhile, one major application that Vectoflow is targeting in aerospace is unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which are now being used in a variety of industries beyond the military. In both areas, each unit is going to need instrumentation for tracking efficiency, among other variables.

“Vectoflow’s future markets will include UAVs, Haigermoser told 3DPrint.com. “Furthermore, we are developing a solution to enhance the efficiency of wind turbine operations with a product derived from aerospace. This is being done while maintaining and growing the instrumentation business Vectoflow has operated for many years.”

Vectoflow’s in-house wind tunnel for probe calibration. Image courtesy of Vectoflow.

The wind energy segment is expected to reach $90.33 billion in 2023, while the market for drones is predicted to hit USD $38.03 billion in 2023. Further, one market report estimates that the global market for measurement probes was valued at $717.5 million in 2022 with an estimated compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.8 percent that would result in a $1.06 billion industry by 2028.

Johann Oberhofer, Managing Partner of AM Ventures, is convinced that Vectoflow will set new standards with its probes: “We are proud of having supported Vectoflow from its early stage. Katharina Kreitz and Christian Haigermoser recognized that industrial 3D printing is predestinated for fluid-dynamic metrology devices due to its freedom of design allowing very complex structures. The fact that Vectoflow’s customers are now directing their attention towards series production projects underscores the expertise they have diligently cultivated over the years in the R&D sector. With both existing and new partners on board, we are looking forward to support their further development and growth into series manufacturing.”

It’s no wonder then that Vectoflow has been successful with its latest funding round. It’s exactly this narrow type of focus that can drive a profitable outcome, which falls in line with AM Ventures’ broader investment strategy. To discuss this strategy, AM Ventures will be on site at the Additive Manufacturing Strategies business summit on February 6-8, 2024. The firm will be the Networking Sponsor for the Bavarian Beer & Pretzels Networking Reception, while Managing Partner Arno Held will be giving the keynote on “Venture Capital” and participating in the “Printing Money: M&A and Public Markets” panel.

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