Despite fundraising in the middle of a worldwide pandemic that has managed to shut down a significant chunk of global manufacturing, the developer of a metal composite 3D printing technology, Velo3D, has managed to raise $28 million in funding.
Over the past fifteen months, the company had bookings of $29 million and revenue of $15 million, Buller said. And it’s managed to land one of the most technically demanding contracts in the manufacturing industry — supplying 3D printers to none other than the world’s most successful new private rocket company, SpaceX.
“We are creating the seeds with the first customers that are using our product and are transitioning parts to production using our manufacturing solution,” says Buller.
Ramping up to industrial scale production using the company’s 3D printers is simple, says Buller. Velo3D pitches its printers in two ways. Either companies can buy the custom 3D printers and license the design software from the company, or it can pay for the printers and software in a single bundled service.
The value proposition that the company offers was enough to attract new investor Piva, the venture capital investment arm of the Malaysian energy giant Petronas along with TNSC. Previous investors Bessemer Venture Partners, Playground, and Khosla Ventures also participated in the financing, the company said.
With the new funding, Velo3D has raised $138 million in financing in total. The company said the new capital would be used to expand its product portfolio to include more alloys, enhanced hardware and software capabilities, and machine options. With the new cash, the company expects to reach sustained profitability by mid-2022.
Three companies in the 3D printed metal market are already vying for dominance with Desktop Metal; XJet; and MarkForged competing for a piece of the industrial manufacturing market. What separates Velo3D from those other manufacturers of metal 3D printers is the company’s quality assurance software and services.
“As we were looking at this company we were pretty impressed,” said Ricardo Angel, the chief executive of Piva and a former managing director at GE Ventures. “I was impressed by the technology that they developed. They had a really easy-to-use design software tool [and] they had this really deep quality control and assurance component.”
The quality control and assurance capabilities were two features that were likely critically important to the company landing its largest customer, SpaceX.
“SpaceX has started using us for a specific component that they had very significant issues manufacturing that using existing techniques,” said Buller. “SpaceX has been using 3D printing for production of engines… As they are designing the next generation engines from the starship… there were some components that they could not produce [and] over time they shifted more and more and more components to our system.”