Apr 11, 2017 | By Benedict

Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), a national development finance institution owned by the South African government, has invested 17 million rand ($1.23M) in Metal Heart, a Gauteng-based 3D printing startup. Metal Heart will produce South Africa’s first production-ready metal 3D printer.

A South African government institution is financing six companies based in the province of Gauteng

$1.23 million is a lot of money for a startup—especially one that hasn’t even started operations yet. That means Metal Heart, a new South African 3D printing company based in Gauteng, is probably thanking its lucky stars that the IDC, a government-owned finance institution, has put pen to paper on a massive investment in the young startup.

That’s not to say that Metal Heart doesn’t sound like a promising venture, of course. The South African startup is planning to launch what it says will be the country’s first production-ready metal 3D printer by June of this year. (The giant, Airbus-affiliated Aeroswift 3D printer appeared to be claiming that title, but commercial use for that machine is not expected until 2019.)

Gert Lombard, who is running Metal Heart alongside business partner Kim Gray, says that the IDC’s new industries unit “moved quickly” to seal the investment after the two parties met in November 2016. The investment, confirmed two weeks ago, comes in the form of a term loan and the IDC getting a minority equity stake in Metal Heart.

Although Metal Heart hasn’t started operations, it has agreed some kind of deal with a large tooling and injection mould company in Gauteng, ensuring it will be on the metal production map when it opens its doors. The startup admits that metal parts fabricated on its 3D printing system may cost more to produce than molded components, but promises that they will be available in half the time.

Startup Metal Heart is developing what could be South Africa's first production-ready metal 3D printer

If its government is to be believed, 2017 could be a good time to start an additive manufacturing venture in South Africa. Last summer, South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) launched an Additive Manufacturing strategy, aiming to position the country as a major global competitor in 3D printing technologies. R30.7 million ($2.2M) was promised to a 3D printing research and development program.

The IDC, the organization funding 3D printing startup Metal Heart, is not part of the DST, but part of the Economic Development Department, which is also pushing incentives to boost local additive manufacturing. The IDC’s new industries unit is currently focusing on eight priority industries (gas beneficiation, energy storage, fuel cells, medical devices, natural products, renewable inputs, additive manufacturing, and nanotech), and has already pledged R107.1 million ($7.7M) of funding since its inception in 2015.

R63.4 million ($4.6M) of that funding has been invested in six new companies in the fields of energy storage (1), additive manufacturing (1, Metal Heart), water (1), and nanotech (3). All of these companies are based in Gauteng; three are owned by young businesspeople, and three are owned by black businesspeople.

The IDC industries unit has reportedly received around 50 applications for funding.

Source: Ventureburn

 

 

Posted in 3D Printer Company

 

 

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