BCN3D has announced a new funding round that should have interesting implications on future innovations for the desktop 3D printing company.
The young company, based in Barcelona, has brought to market such open source 3D printers as the Sigma and Sigmax, as well as the more production-focused Epsilon. Last March, BCN3D announced a $3M investment and the formal spinning out of the company as an independent entity from CIM-UPC Center.
BCN3D €2.8M Investment
Today, BCN3D has announced a new investment round, with €2.8 million in funding.
Just 16 months after the last multi-million dollar/euro investment — it’s interesting to note that last year’s was presented in terms of USD and today’s is in euro — BCN3D says, “The investment brings BCN3D’s total funding since the spin-off in 2019 to €5,5 million and will help the company enable development in new materials and hardware.”
This new round of funding was led by Mondragon and Spanish National Innovation Agency CDTI (Centro para el Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial), with participation from Accurafy4, JME Venture capital, and Danobatgroup.
This is an interesting array of entities, as they represent the growing trust in 3D printing across industry and investors. BCN3D notes that this is Mondragon’s first step into the additive manufacturing sector, for instance, and that company is among “Spain’s leading industrial business groups.” Mondragon is acting as an investor via its venture capital fund managed by Clave Capital.
Another intriguing investor is CDTI, which describes itself:
“The Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) is a Public Business Entity, answering to the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness, which fosters the technological development and innovation of Spanish companies. It is the entity that channels the funding and support applications for national and international R&D&i projects of Spanish companies. The CDTI thus seeks to contribute to improving the technological level of the Spanish companies by means of implementing the following activities:
- Financial and economic-technical assessment of R&D projects implemented by companies.
- Managing and fostering Spanish participation in international technological cooperation programmes.
- Fostering international business technology transfer and support services for technological innovation.
- Supporting the setting up and consolidating technological companies.”
CDTI is participating through its INNVIERTE program, which finances innovative companies, aiming to help advance public/private venture capital investments that must meet these criteria:
- Investments involve taking temporary shares in the capital of target firms
- Investments are financed by more than 50% by private investors
- Investment decisions will be taken on a commercial basis and will aim at making profits
- The management of investments and divestments will be performed by professionals from the private sector with experience in the corresponding technology sector in Spain
- Private investors will assume leadership in the transactions needed to implement investments and divestments
- The risks and benefits of each investment will be shared with the private investor in strict equality of rights and obligations, in proportion to their respective contributions.
Through the relationship with Danobatgroup, BCN3D will also gain access to “high value-added solutions in the field of grinding, turning, cutting, punching, bending and automated production systems for composite structural components.”
3D Printing Investment In 2020
It’s an interesting time to see hefty investment, as overall the economic landscape in 2020 has been — in a word, difficult. The ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic continues to present a challenging environment for business operations, on top of the obvious impacts on health and personal levels.
However, 3D printing remains uniquely situated during this time, as the technology has contributed substantially to pandemic response efforts for months now. BCN3D offered its 3D printer farm of 63 machines “to be used for those projects that can contribute the most to the public benefit in these hard times.”
They seem to have been taken up on that offer, as they report that more than 4,200 reusable face shields were supplied to more than 50 hospitals and health centers in Europe — in one month. The company collaborated with healthcare providers and government organizations to design, prototype, and produce a variety of necessary healthcare supplies.
By no means is BCN3D the only 3D printing company to see investment during these pandemic-stricken months. Other funding rounds have been seen recently at VELO3D, Kumovis, Mixed Dimensions, and Additive Industries, while BMW and Evonik have recently opened 3D printing technology facilities.
“3D printing is not a fad, but a key player in the upcoming industrial change,” BCN3D CTO Eric Pallarés observed of the technology’s being put to use in supply chain disruption.
BCN3D Looks Ahead
The new investment will certainly come in handy for BCN3D’s future plans.
They lay out a glimpse into some of these plans in today’s announcement, such as the ever-popular intention to “fuel innovation.” In this company’s case, that will be specifically:
“The investment will be used to strengthen the development of new hardware features for the workbench segment on top of the BCN3D’s developed IDEX technology, the only extrusion system capable of printing with two heads independently. It will also be used for the development of new industrial-grade materials designed to deliver outstanding results for BCN3D printers in collaboration with BASF Forward AM and Mitsubishi Chemical. BCN3D Filaments, formulated to ensure the highest print quality, are common polymers in several industries and cover the majority of the technical applications.”
The focus on the workbench segment indicates the company’s growing focus on its Epsilon 3D printer.
This focus has led some to question the longevity of the Sigma/Sigmax lines, especially given recent activity on the BCN3D GitHub repository, where astute Fabbaloo reader Stefan tipped us off to an interesting comment that “It’s not planned to continue the Sigma/x development and the downwards compatibility neither.”
The comment, from BCN3D Firmware Developer Alejandro Garcia, has since been removed, as he’s updated for clarity:
“Sorry about my previous message, it was quite inaccurate and I’m aware that it has raised some concerns regarding the continuation of the Sigma line, so I have decided to delete it.
We are going to continue working on constantly improving our products as we have done so far and, of course, we are working on new developments at all levels.
The Sigma line has been our main focus for a very long time and, while now we also count on the BCN3D Epsilon and we are splitting our efforts between a bigger portfolio, we are not going to abandon our Sigma/x users, nor are we pronouncing the Sigma/x dead. I can assure you that the Sigma line has a long future ahead!”
“It’s [splitting our efforts] an evidence that we are more focused on the new gen and It’s true that this repository has not been updated for a year. In the short term we will not launch an update, however, it doesn’t implies that we are not going to launch an update anymore. I mean that we are still listening the community and if we can launch an updated that improves the printer we will do it of course.”
Hopefully we do indeed see a long future for the Sigma line, as well as ongoing improvements to the Epsilon and well-engineered new materials.