High-profile investors are giving a boost to Desktop Metal, a start-up that is developing desktop 3D printers that can create metal parts and objects. In February, Google Ventures (now GV) led a $45 million round of Series C funding that included BMW iVentures and Lowe’s venture funding group. So far, the Burlington, MA-based company has raised $97 million in venture funding for its metal printing system.
Metal printing systems are extremely expensive and typically deployed by very large companies. Desktop Metal hopes to bring this functionality to smaller companies.
Founder and CEO Ric Fulop (formerly of battery company A123 Systems) has not yet released any details on how the printers will work, but according to press reports they will not use laser technology. In addition to selling printers, the company will also market its own range of high-performance alloys.
“Practically every object around you has some metal part in it, from computers up to automotive, medical and heavy-duty equipment,” Flop said. “Even if 3D printed metal parts are just a small piece of what’s manufactured today, there is something like $12 trillion in manufactured parts processed each year globally.”
The company is already working closely with BMW in Munich to see how its metal printing technology could be used in automotive design and manufacturing. “Advances in metal 3D printing are driving innovation across a wide range of automotive applications and we are excited to work with Desktop Metal as part of our vision in adopting additive manufacturing at BMW,” said Uwe Higgen, managing partner of BMW iVentures. “From rapid prototyping and printing exceptional quality parts for end-use production, to freedom of design and mass customization, Desktop Metal is shaping the way cars will be imagined, designed and manufactured.”
Other previous investors in the company include Stratasys, GE Ventures, Lux Capital and Saudi Aramco.
The company’s website indicates the first printers may be unveiled this year.