Fortify Fortifies Composite 3D Printing
Boston-based Fortify has announced a $2.5 million strategic funding round set to advance its Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM) process for strong 3D printing.
On the heels of the announcement, we caught up with the company’s CEO, Dr. Josh Martin, to figure out what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how the funding is making it possible. Their story revolves around their patented Fluxprint technology, which brings together magnetics and digital light processing (DLP) 3D printing.
“Fluxprint was pioneered by Josh Martin and Dr. Randy Erb's research at Northeastern University. The aim of their studies was to examine biocomposites (bone, shellfish, etc) and how the the structure of the individual constituents play a role in the overall mechanics of the composite. From this research, Fluxprint and the Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM) platform was born,” Fortify tells Fabbaloo.
From these research beginnings, a strong platform for additive manufacturing -- including Fluxprint hardware, INFORM generative design software, and materials -- has taken shape. Strong is the key word, as the fiber-reinforced DLP 3D printing enables high-resolution, high-strength part creation. In fact, the company says, they have introduced “the strongest resin available on the market.” With two resins launched and IP filed, Fortify is well on its way to launching into significance -- helped along by the funding round that saw the team more than double in size.
Team is important to Fortify, as its latest and next coming moves are dependent upon choosing the right fits. Strategic funding in this seed round came from Neotribe Ventures, Prelude Ventures, Mainspring Capital, Ocean Azul Partners, and McCune Capital. Partnerships are critical, including in the development of materials; DSM has already been named among the partners as that company continues to up its investment in 3D printing. Materials development with partners will be via the open Fortify Fiber Platform.
As the company looks toward a busy 2019 hopefully marked with a beta launch to “10 select partners” and further funding -- to the tune of an $8 million in Series A funding round -- it seems there are big things in store for Fortify.
But why does Fortify think it has something unique to offer? I went to the top for an answer, as their CEO provides a look behind the curtain at what we can expect to see emerge. Dr. Josh Martin shares his thoughts.
What sets Fluxprint apart from other 3D printing technologies working with high-strength composite materials?
“Fluxprint and DCM represents the industry’s first fiber-reinforced DLP additive manufacturing platform. On top of that, this process also creates precisely-tailored composites through our patented magnetic alignment technique. Composites have been traditionally difficult to fabricate and is an often laborious process; this is because the alignment of the reinforcing fibers is paramount to achieving optimized mechanical properties. Fluxprint builds 3D printed composites from the microarchitecture up, allowing forces to dictate form, generating tailored reinforcement. Strength, stiffness, weight, and other mechanical properties can be adjusted voxel by voxel, resulting functional printed parts for applications that could not otherwise be made with 3D printing. Through this technology, we are hoping to democratize the performance of composites.”
What can you tell us about your work with DSM and other materials partners in open materials innovation? Why is it important to be open?
“We've introduced the Fortify Fiber Platform, inviting materials companies and resin suppliers to develop high-performance resins in conjunction with Fortify material scientists and engineers. This platform is already being embraced by Fortify partners such as DSM, an industry leader in the development of cutting-edge photoactive resins for additive manufacturing. We have developed this program and embraced an open innovation mindset to not have to box our customers into a single, proprietary resin set. Furthermore, by partnering with established and innovative materials companies, we can take advantage of the cross-pollination of ideas to drive truly groundbreaking innovation.”
Where does Fortify fit into the current 3D printing marketplace? Who's the competition and what differentiates Fortify?
“DCM is what differentiates Fortify from its competitors. The DCM platform includes patented hardware that allows for the processing of viscous slurries as well as precise magnetic alignment, cutting-edge, fiber-reinforced materials, and our own generative design software that uses Finite Element Analysis to dictate fiber alignment. With DCM, we are pushing the boundaries of additive manufacturing materials, democratizing composite performance. This results in low cost, high speed, limitless geometries, with no machining required. DCM opens up new possibilities in materials, making fabrication faster and products better.”
What types of applications are you targeting?
“We are targeting a range of applications from additively manufactured injection mold tools to replacing high-performance plastics and metals that are traditionally machined. As the technology matures, we have our sights on fabricating aerospace and automotive components, where material strength-weight places a key role.”
What has the response been from partners and investors as momentum builds?
“All of our supportive partners and investors are thrilled to be part of our growth. We have exciting company goals for the this year and without them, our continued innovation wouldn’t be possible. We look forward to launching our beta program in late 2019, delivering beta units to select partners.”
What does the timeline toward commercialization look like? How will sales/availability be structured, and can you share anything about pricing?
“At this point, we are recruiting partners for our Beta Program, launching late 2019.”
What else should we know about Fortify?
“Fortify is growing! We are in the process of raising our Series A fundraising round, as well as hiring across the board from engineering to materials science. If you want to be part of the next 3D printing revolution and truly democratize material performance, feel free to reach out!”
Time will tell on a few of these points, so we’ll look forward to seeing how the company fits into the existing structure of a competitive 3D printing industry and how pricing and availability will be structured. Fortify is one to keep an eye on, and we look forward to keeping in touch.