3D printing is here, and it’s here to stay.
Last week, industrial 3D printer company Markforged announced its completion of an $82 million Series D funding round. The Watertown, Massachusetts-based company announced in a press release that its funding partners included Microsoft’s Venture Fund and Porsche SE.
With its Series D round—a relatively rare funding stage for a startup—Markforged’s new business partners hope to promote the company’s newest pursuit: mass production.
Stepping Into the Future
Markforged aims to expand its product lines, including to manufacture new, mass production 3D printers.
The Summit Partners-led funding round will help Markforged to “[enable] engineers, inventors and manufacturers to print industrial-grade parts at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional methods,” said company Founder and CEO Greg Mark.
Various carbon and metal fiber parts can be produced with 3D printing at a lower cost than traditional methods. Moreover, 3D print already plays noteworthy roles in everyday life, from GE’s 3D-printed jet engine to Nike and Adidas sport cleats.
In 2018 alone, Markforged shipped over 2,500 printers.
3D Print in the Factory
The practical examples of 3D print tend toward small parts for larger systems on assembly lines. Machining these small parts with 3D printers can save on man-hours and the cost of maintaining highly specialized equipment. In this sense, 3D printers are generally understood to be complementary to the traditional assembly line, rather than overhauling or competing with it.
3D print’s inexorable rise continues with Markforged’s new funding. The company was named by Forbes to its Next Billion Dollar Startup list, and by Deloitte as the 10th fastest-growing tech company in America. Deloitte also predicts 3D print-related sales by large companies to surpass $3 billion in 2020—up from around $2.2 billion in 2017.
Electronic components are just one example of what 3D printers may come to produce in the foreseeable future.
In time, 3D print may even be capable of interfacing with artificial intelligence from a high level. Such a development would accelerate the development of autonomous factories.