AstroPrint has successfully raised US$1M investment round.
AstroPrint is a provider of a comprehensive cloud-based operational system for 3D printers. By attaching a set-top box to your 3D printer’s USB port, your machine gains access to their intelligent cloud. The cloud provides a number of features including file storage, remote access, monitoring, logging, job preparation, file repair, and much more.
It basically turns a dumb 3D printer into one that’s quite smart.
Superficially AstroPrint is similar in function to OctoPrint, but that system is open source and often challenging for some users to set up and operate. Meanwhile, AstroPrint’s solution is rather seamless and might be a better choice for many 3D printer operators.
The new influx of cash totals US$1M, and was sourced from Alma Mundi Ventures and Stanley Ventures. AstroPrint says the total raised by the company is now US$2.1M, but Crunchbase says they have already had three funding rounds totaling US$2.1M, not including this announcement. If Crunchbase is correct, their total would now be US$3.1M. Who’s right? Probably both, as the method of counting is likely different.
Nevertheless, it’s a lot more cash for the small startup. What are their intentions for the money? They hint at a few things in their announcement:
“We are now poised to grow our 3D printing cloud solution that already serves over 95k users from 130 countries.”
“Moving forward, AstroPrint will be rapidly growing to further enhance our business and enterprise solutions, and scale our presence around the world.”
“AstroPrint is now ready to offer the AstroPrint Enterprise Cloud to other companies. The next step is to offer the Enterprise Cloud solution to other companies that also need distributed Additive Manufacturing abilities and would benefit from data-driven optimization of their Additive Manufacturing operations.”
So it seems they will embark on a program of international expansion, which likely means establishing new sales and distribution networks, as well as internationalizing their product line. You can’t sell into some regions without adjusting the language, for example.
The Enterprise product is more interesting, though, as it could be a major source of revenue. In the words of notorious bank robber Willie Sutton, who, upon being asked why he robbed banks, brilliantly said:
“Because that’s where the money is.”
The same is true for AstroPrint’s Enterprise product.
The Enterprise system could be of considerable utility to an organization with a large number of miscellaneous desktop 3D printers in their fleet. A unified cloud system could allow them to be managed and used more efficiently: consider how long 3D prints take to complete, and then realize that there is a free machine in the other building that could be used. That ability is worth a lot of money to some companies.
Other 3D printer companies are attempting to fill that gap as well, but most are focusing on proprietary systems that work only with their own hardware. This is likely to be not successful in organizations that have a heterogeneous mix of machines from different vendors. That’s where AstroPrint could work very well.
Surely the new investment will be used not only to complete the Enterprise product, but also to provide for the extensive marketing and sales efforts required to land it in corporate environments.