Custom manufacturing startup Fractory has raised $9 million in Series A funding to advance its enterprise software platform.
Fractory’s platform connects those that carry out manufacturing jobs with companies needing custom metal parts made for them. Customers upload CAD files specifying what they need to be made, and these are then bid on by manufacturers, similar to a freelance marketplace.
Essentially, Fractory hopes to reduce fragmentation within the metalwork sector by modernizing the industry’s supply chain and leveraging technologies such as industrial 3D printing.
The $9M funding round
The $9 million raised from Fractory’s Series A funding round will reportedly be used to continue expanding its platform, and to bring more partners on board.
The funding round was led by early growth European investor OTB Ventures, and saw participation from the firm’s existing investors Trind Ventures, Superhero Capital, United Angels VC, Startup Wise Guys, and Verve Ventures.
Since its founding, Fractory has worked with more than 24,000 customers and hundreds of manufacturers and metalwork companies to deliver some 2.5 million metal parts. The firm currently helps fill orders for laser cutting and metal folding services like CNC machining, and is now turning its attention to industrial 3D printing.
The company’s customers span a number of sectors, from the construction and heavy machinery industries to automotive and aerospace.
Fractory’s manufacturing marketplace
Essentially, Fractory’s platform aims to aid factories in embracing a more flexible manufacturing approach, allowing them to be more responsive to fluctuations in demand such as the peaks and troughs manufacturers experienced throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. With its business enterprise software, the firm hopes to improve current inefficiencies in sourcing work and increase associated uptime capacity within the sector.
Fractory is also focused on reducing logistical issues and carbon emissions within the metalworks sector, by keeping manufacturing local to the customer, and helping to improve the efficiencies of manufacturing facilities by reducing machine downtime, costs and waste.
The software works by connecting customers and manufacturers in one place, whereby customers can upload a CAD file of a custom product that is then sent out and bid on by manufacturers. Around 30 percent of these jobs are fully automated, while the remainder may require Fractory to advise customers on quoting, manufacturing, and delivery.
Going forwards, Fractory is looking to increase the number of jobs that can be automated, leveraging tools associated with Industry 4.0 such as computer vision.
Bolstering supply chains with AM
Various fragilities in supply chains across the globe have been exposed over the past 18 months, highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic, worldwide trade tensions, and the recent blockage of the Suez Canal by the Ever Given container ship. Out of this, though, has risen an opportunity for the additive manufacturing sector to capitalize through offering on-demand 3D printing as a service to bolster supply chain resilience in the future.
For instance, during the height of the Covid pandemic 3D printing was able to plug some of the holes in supply chains where conventional manufacturing could not match demand, such as for the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and components for medical devices like ventilators.
Multiple 3D printing service providers and companies equipped with additive manufacturing capabilities were able to redirect their production output to support the pandemic relief effort, and despite the pandemic’s challenges, the 3D printing sector grew by 7.5 percent to nearly $12.8 billion last year, according to the Wohlers Report 2021.
Over in the US, 3D printing national accelerator America Makes is demonstrating the role 3D printing could play in bolstering supply chain resilience beyond the pandemic, through its Advanced Manufacturing Crisis Production Response (AMCPR) program. According to Director of Operations, Alexander Steeb: “More and more the conversation is trending and drifting in the direction of supply chain resiliency, not just in terms of achieving lower prices, but also for the competitiveness of organizations.”
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Featured image shows Fractory’s platform offers CNC machining services such as milling. Photo via Fractory.