Jan 27, 2016 | By Alec

Image credit: Boston Dynamics

One of the signals suggesting that the 3D printing sector is expanding, is the amount of money being thrown around. Several 3D printing startups with a focus on high tech developments, and even other companies with really original ideas, have already managed to attract the attention of big shot financers and have received millions in venture investments. Usually, these funds are invested with a specific purpose, to develop a certain product or technology, but one company has managed to completely stay in the shadows. Last summer, the unknown Velo3D received $22.1 million in venture investment soon after being founded, and they have since been dropping hints that they could be working on a revolutionary metal 3D printing solution for the robotics industry.

It’s quite an unusual case. 3D printing startups are often so enthusiastic about their plans and products that they can’t wait to share them with the world, but Velo3D is what investment experts call a stealth company. In fact, according to CB Insights, their success in raising $22.1 million makes them the fourth best-funded stealth-mode US tech company of last year. According to Octafinance, Velo3D managed to raise 100.00% of the financing round, with the reason for the investment being: unspecified. Founded by Benyamin Butler and Erel Milshtein, the Santa Clara, California-based startup has said nothing concrete about what they’re doing, but there is a breadcrumb trail.

According to experts, all the hints – job postings, conference talks and so on – are all pointing in the direction of metal 3D printing. Certainly, Bloomberg agrees. “Velo3D, Inc. develops and manufactures metal laser sintering printing machines for 3D printing,” they simply state on their website. As you might recall, plastic 3D printing really took off back in 2009 when a key patent on deposition technology expired, opening the way for 3D printing technology to significantly drop in price. Metal 3D printing, by and large, relies on the far more expensive selective laser sintering technology, for which the patent expired in 2014. This was, as Silicon Valley expert Tekla Perry reminds the world, just before Velo3D was founded. All metal 3D printing experts, however, believe that the metal breakthrough is to come from the material side (rather than the SLS side), and Perry suggests that Velo3D could be working on that breakthrough.

And the signs certainly seem to point that way. Founders Butler and Milshtein previously collaborated on a number of technology breakthroughs, working at First Solar, Solyndra, and Applied Materials. They have also filed patents for rotating semiconductor materials and other material mechanisms. Velo3D has also been recruiting metal 3D printing experts, such as a lead mechanical engineer who needed to be interested in revolutionizing metal manufacturing Graduates in physics or materials science with an “disruptive vision of metal 3D printing” were also wanted. They also recently looked for a senior metallurgist.

So what are they aiming for? While the name points towards bicycles, Ofer Shochet is pointing at robotics. The founder of Golem Robotics and incidentally a director at Velo3D, Shochet believed that 3D printed metal robotics will be one of the major expansion fields of the coming years. Especially the technology’s ability to create more complex and new geometries will greatly benefit robotics experts. Of course all of this is just speculation, but the signs coming from Velo3D all point in one direction. And with a budget of $22.1 million, there’s a lot that can be achieved.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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Mark wrote at 4/21/2016 2:38:50 AM:

one of their patent apps: https://www.google.com/patents/US9254535



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