9T Labs announced a huge US$17M investment.
The Swiss company is known for their unique 3D printing process that can produce parts made from up to 60% continuous carbon fiber. These parts are incredibly strong as they use not only continuous carbon fiber (as opposed to the chopped carbon fiber typically used in 3D printing), but the ratio of fiber to polymer is extremely high.
Their secret “CFRTP” process for producing these amazing parts involves extrusion, but also extreme pressure during post processing. In fact, that’s where their name comes from: nine tonnes of pressure is apparently required.
9T Labs explains:
“9T Labs’ technology platform enables desktop size high-performance structural parts to be produced in CFRTP composites in production volumes ranging from 100 to over 100,000 parts/year. By combining software, 3D printing — offering unexcelled design freedom, part complexity, and control of fiber orientation — with compression molding in matched metal dies – providing rapid cycle times, high production rates, excellent surface finishes and low voids, plus high repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) — 9T Labs’ Red Series platform offers the best of both additive and existing manufacturing to create a more sustainable and high-performance alternative to traditional metal and plastic manufacturing technologies.”
The magic of this process has enabled the company to expand several times over the past two years.
Now they’ve announced a US$17M investment in a Series A round, with over US$21M raised to date. For those unfamiliar, investment rounds are of several levels, with “Seed” investments being smaller bets on helping a company get going. The much larger “Series” investments are intended to allow a company with a proven solution to expand rapidly. That’s where 9T Labs seems to be today.
9T Labs said the new cash is intended to fund their next growth phase and to assist clients in scaling up their 9T Labs operations significantly to production levels.
The investment round was composed of several investors, including a number of venture capital firms. But one investor in particular is noteworthy:
This is extremely interesting, as Stratasys has shown considerable interest in developing manufacturing-scale composite printing systems in the past. However, we haven’t really seen these experiments surface as products yet, and it may be that they have been abandoned internally.
Stratasys has in the past made strategic investments in several related firms or even potential competitors. It’s my understanding they have invested in Desktop Metal when they were launching, for example. Another prior investment was in Xaar, a maker of advanced printheads. Eventually Stratasys ended up acquiring the entire business outright to aid their new SAF technology.
I’m wondering which way their 9T Labs investment may take. Could they sit on it, as they are doing with the Desktop Metal investment? Or could this lead to a future acquisition of 9T Labs and incorporation into the larger Stratasys ecosystem?
Stratasys has made a number of acquisitions in the past couple of years, and to me this just might be another one in the making.
Via 9T Labs