Doubt as to whether additive technology can truly be a manufacturing technology has hung over this industry for the past few years. As of this date, additive technology is not quite as fast at producing hundreds of parts as a punch press. And there are issues with it being used to replace high-production injection molding.
Despite the attempts to stress that this technology enables cost-efficient mass customization, many still want it to have the same monetary metrics as traditional machining and injection molding.
Maybe perceptions are changing. Recent developments indicate that additive technologies are improving their speeds and productiveness. So much so that investors are coming into this market with lots of money.
3D Hubs, headquartered in Amsterdam, recently announced it received $18 million in new funding. The company plans to expand its U.S. team and open a dedicated U.S. office, as well as expand its Amsterdam team. The company has altered its business model and is now a turnkey B2B manufacturing platform.
Fast Radius, another service provider located in Chicago, recently announced it raised $48 million in a Series B funding round led by UPS, with strong insider participation from Drive Capital. Fast Radius will use the funds to continue to scale up its global manufacturing footprint as well as its software development, application engineering, and sales teams.
Markforged, Massachusetts, a leading manufacturer of industrial 3D printers, announced that it has closed an $82 million Series D round of funding led by Summit Partners with participation from existing strategic and financial partners, including Matrix Partners; M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund; Next47; and Porsche SE. Markforged will use the additional capital to help accelerate its product roadmap, including the introduction of mass production printers and new materials. The capital will also be used to enhance the company’s global expansion plans, and strengthen its foothold among global manufacturers.
The first time this industry received such investments was when 3D printing was in the Gartner Hype phase. Those investments enabled the technology to introduce a number of advances that resulted in more ways to additively build parts, more materials, and more accurate equipment.
While this round of investment seems to be going mainly to service providers, it will be interesting to see what comes of it.
In the meantime, such investment is a testament to investors’ belief that this technology is here for a long haul.