Two “Secret” 3D Printing Startups

By on August 18th, 2016 in Corporate

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 Secret metal 3D printing startups
Secret metal 3D printing startups

Fabbaloo reader Lance Pickens asked about two 3D printing startups, so what else could I do but check them out?

There are huge numbers of 3D printing startups around the world; most come and go, but some are successful and stick around. Most are very poorly funded, but a select few hit the big time with large investments from major venture capital firms. 

One of companies that falls in that category is Velo3D, of which very little is known, aside from the fact they received a USD$22M investment round in June, 2015. The company’s insanely brief website describes themselves as: 

Velo3D is a well-funded advanced technology company, backed by top VC firms, with the intent to completely disrupt the metal additive manufacturing industry.  We build the impossible, and we are looking for talented individuals to help us accomplish our goals.

Also from their website is a solicitation for several positions that would also indicate work in developing a metal 3D printer: 

  • Senior Mechanical Engineer
  • Sr. Software Engineer – Generalist
  • Sr. Software Engineer – Computer Graphics
  • Sr. Modeling and Simulations Engineer
  • Process Engineer

The investment should have provided the company with more than sufficient capability to develop anything they’d care to attempt.

And indeed it appears they are doing so. Currently LinkedIn shows around 30 individuals working at Velo3D, and their company description indicates “11-50 staff”. The staff positions range from Co-Founder to Engineer to Metallurgist to Accountant to People Manager to Laser Jockey, so it appears they have a more-or-less full set of staff, a group you’d expect to be developing a metal 3D printer. 

But that’s about it. There’s almost nothing else written on this company aside from speculation. And that’s fine with me; companies are allowed to work secretly on their projects and announce them when it makes sense. It’s likely they have a different take on metal 3D printing and want to flesh it out before triggering competition with an official announcement. 

However, after a year I would expect to see an announcement of some type in the coming year, if only to keep their investors happy. 

The other company Pickens asked about was MatterFab. 

If you thought Velo3D’s website was empty, take a look at MatterFab’s. Here we reproduce their home page’s content, in HTML:

  <!– Page Content –>
    <div class=”container”>
        <div class=”row”>
            <div class=”col-md-6 col-sm-12″>
                <h1><img src=”img/logo.png” /></h1>
        <!– /.row –>
        <div class=”box-text-center”>
            <img src=”img/text.png” />
    <!– /.container –>

Yes, that’s it. Just a logo. 

But, like Velo3D, Seattle-based MatterFab has received substantial investment:  USD$5.75M from GE Ventures. They’ve previously received USD$7.5M, totaling USD$13.23M. This money appears to have been directed towards a small team developing an:

Affordable, scalable 3D metal printer using next generation laser technology to print solid metal parts.

The two founders have long experience developing machinery and apparently have connections to the US Department of Defense and the US Sandia National Labs. In LinkedIn, their company is also described as “11-50 employees”, and there are ten individuals on LinkedIn who apparently work at MatterFab, including a series of appropriately-skilled engineers and technologists. 

Aniwaa also provides an image of what might be their machine, although we can find no specific details on this mysterious device. 

The bottom line with MatterFab is that they’ve raised a substantial amount of money through MULTIPLE rounds of investment. To convince multiple parties to give you that much money is a very difficult challenge; it would seem to me they’ve actually got something interesting in the works. 

But, like Velo3D, they are not announcing anything until they’re ready. 

The answer to the question about what happened to these companies appears to be that they’re still developing some type of metal 3D printers. Stay tuned! 

Via Velo3D and MatterFab

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!