Berlin-based startup BigRep has obtained a significant investment from Klöckner & Co, posing some interesting questions.
BigRep is a well known member of a certain class of 3D printer manufacturers: the ones that build very large objects. There’s only a few companies in this market segment, which seems to be profitable for all.
BigRep was one of the first to explore this market niche and they seem to have made great progress, with new versions of equipment, an international sales network and partnerships with other suppliers.
Now they’ve announced a deal with Klöckner & Co’s venture capital subsidiary. The terms were not disclosed.
What’s interesting is this: Klöckner & Co’s business is as a metal distributor. They apparently have over 170 locations worldwide selling steel and non-ferrous materials.
BigRep produces 3D printers that print only in plastic.
Why would Klöckner & Co be interested in a company that doesn’t seem to be related? I have some ideas:
Perhaps BigRep wants to gain access to Klöckner & Co’s distribution network, where their equipment might be of interest to metal buyers. We do know that BigRep has had success in a firm producing marine propellors, where prototypes were 3D printed on BigReps before committing to metal. It’s possible there are hundreds of similar companies that might purchase BigReps for the same purpose.
Another reason could be that BigRep is contemplating producing a 3D metal printer and joining the ever-growing group of companies doing so. If they were thinking about such a thing, it would be a good idea to have a metal industry partner on board like Klöckner & Co.
Finally, the deal may have been driven by Klöckner & Co, who may see 3D printing as an important aspect for the future of their metal clients, especially given all the buzz generated by GE’s recent acquisitions. It could be that a relationship with BigRep may provide Klöckner & Co an introduction to the 3D space.
Whatever the reason is, it’s good news for BigRep, who continue to expand their reach.