Investment Update : West Fountain Parallel Fund invested in Series C of 3D Metal Printing Unicron Desktop Metal
In 2016.11， West Fountain and Shenzhen Capital Group closed its Series C investment in US unicorn company Desktop Metal, Inc. (Desktop Metal), along with BMW Ventures, Google Ventures, and Lowe's
Desktop Metal is a metal 3D printing startup company based in Massachusetts, USA. The company is committed to optimizing the manufacturing process of complex parts using metal 3D printing, and its efficient manufacturing technology has been widely used in the automotive industry.
Metal 3D printing, also known as metal additive manufacturing, uses metal powder, particles, and metal wires as raw materials. It is pre-layered through CAD models and melted and stacked by high-power laser beams directly constructed from the CAD model in one step. Metal 3D printers have existed for decades. Compared with plastic additive technology, metal 3D printing is subject to various restrictions in terms of materials, printing speed, and applicability. So far, it has been used in aerospace, defense, automobile manufacturing, and other fields that require high-precision and high-complexity materials such as medical device manufacturing.
Desktop Metal's core technology is based on microwave-enhanced sintering, which places a layer of metal and ceramic powder mixed in a soft polymer in the printer. Once the machine started working, the mixed powder was sent to the heating furnace to be quickly heated and melted. Polymer, the exhaust gas will be filtered by charcoal.
The metal 3D printer designed and produced by Desktop Metal can quickly and safely produce large-scale parts. According to the company, Desktop Metal's machine is 100 times faster than earlier metal 3D printers and can produce up to 8,200 cubic centimeters per hour. In addition, because it can effectively filter out the exhaust gas, this metal 3D printer can be well adapted to office or small studio scenes with poor ventilation.
Most metal 3D printers need to separate the product from the printing platform by filing, milling, etc. The excess material and rough edges of the product must be removed by polishing. Desktop Metal can separate metal objects from the printing platform manually without any processing, which is also a patented technology of Desktop Metal.
According to the "Wohlers Report 2016", the market size of the traditional additive manufacturing industry was only $5.1 billion in 2015. Many manufacturers are eager to find faster and safer metal 3D printing technology to replace this technology. One of the most enthusiastic manufacturers.
Desktop Metal has received a US$45 million Series C financing. In addition to the West Fountain Global Fund LP, the overseas parallel fund of West Fo, the investors also include BMW, GV (Google Ventures), and well-known American retailer Lao Style company.
Regarding this investment, Uwe Higgen, managing partner of BMW iVentures, a venture capital arm of BMW, pointed out, "From rapid modeling and printing of special-spec components required for vehicle production, to independent design and mass customization, Desktop Metal is transforming. The way cars are designed and manufactured today."
It is worth mentioning that BMW is not the first car company to invest in Desktop Metal. In the B round of financing in July last year, General Electric Ventures (GE Ventures) and investors, including Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures, jointly invested US$52 million in Desktop Metal.
So far, the total amount of funds raised by this startup that has only been established for two years has reached 97 million US dollars. Other prominent players involved in investment include NEA, Caufield Byers, Lux Capital and Bolt, and 3D printing giant Stratasys.
Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop said: "Plastics have redefined rapid prototyping of materials in the past, and 3D metal printing technology will also have a profound impact on enterprise parts manufacturing and mass production in the future."