Oct 28, 2015 | By Alec

The 3D printing community is filled with fantastic ideas and ambitious startups, but unfortunately most all of them aren’t yet living the dream of fantastic and speedy success. You could say the opposite about Desktop Metal, a startup that was only founded two months ago and don’t even have a product or a website. And yet, they were able to raise 14 million dollars in their first investment round, with parters including NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Lux Capital, 3D printing giant Stratasys, and a number of other venture capitalists and investors.

So who are they and what on earth makes them deserve such attention? Well, there’s much in a name and this ambitious startup is aiming for the dream: a desktop 3D printer that can make high performance metal objects (aluminum, titanium and more) and be as quiet as the FDM 3D printer you have in your garage.

The team.

Now that idea is fantastic, but much of their capital success is also probably thanks to the names attached to Desktop Metal. This Cambridge, Massachusetts startup wwas founded by a team that includes MIT professors (materials sicence, engineering), former engineers from Solidworks and others. Names include Ric Fulop and Yet-Ming Chiang, the co-founders of the battery company A123 Systems and veterans of the 3D printing industry, and Chris Schuh, head of the Department of Materials Science at MIT.

Now that already explains a lot more, and as Co-founder and CEO Fulop says, their first investment round was led by NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, and Lux Capital, while also including participation fromStratasys, Boston hardware investor Bolt, Founder Collective, Data Collective, and angel investors. All are betting that this team of visionaries and experts are going to make the huge, impossible step in the commercial 3D printing industry: desktop, commercially viable metal 3D printers. ‘We’re trying to make a machine that you can buy, plug it in, and use it in your office,’ Fulop told xconomy.

That would obviously be a fantastic achievement, as metal 3D printing is still insanely expensive and completely unrealistic for everyone but players like NASA. ‘Metal 3D printing has been out of the reach of most companies because it’s very expensive and slow. We’re developing a system that’s very fast and more accessible,’ Fulop explains. While far too early to talk about how they’re going to do that, he did add that they won’t be using laser technology to do so.

Ric Fulop

However, it is clear that Fulop seems to be the right man for the job. Previously founding six companies in the fields of software, semiconductors, communication and more, he has been very successful . Since 2010, he has been part of North Bridge Venture Parters, through which he invested in numerous opportunities – 3D printer manufacturers MarkForged and cloud-based CAD software provider Onshape among them. Now, at Desktop Metal, he wants to be closer to the product and the development. ‘When I was a VC, I was looking to fund something in metal 3D printing for some time. I looked at every approach conceivable. I saw some of the limitations and decided there was a better way to do it,’ Fulop says.

So what can we expect in the near future? Well, not much. Fulop has said its too early to talk details, prices or even possible delivery times. ‘We’re in the early, early days of 3-D printing,’ he says. ‘If you think of aviation, we’re at the World War I stage, when planes were made of canvas and wood. This is an industry with a very long arc.’ Hopefully, such huge investment numbers might change their perspectives and enable them to speed up the process remarkably.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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