Digital manufacturing firm and MIT-rollout VulcanForms has raised $355 million, taking its valuation to over $1 billion.
The firm also unveiled its first two digital production facilities, one of which is powered by its fleet of proprietary 100kW class laser powder bed fusion (LPBF) 3D printing systems, totaling two megawatts of laser capacity.
“By scaling advanced digital manufacturing, we can create a new era of U innovation and economic growth,” said Martin Feldmann, VulcanForms Co-founder. “We’ve recognized a game-changing opportunity when additive manufacturing technology is scaled for industrial production and is seamlessly integrated with automated machining and robotics.”
VulcanForms’ laser 3D printing technology
VulcanForms was founded by Feldmann and Professor John Hart at MIT in 2013 with the goal of improving the throughput and quality of the LPBF additive manufacturing process. After filing its first patent application two years later, the firm built its first system to validate its breakthrough industrial 3D printing technology in 2017.
In 2019, the company’s first production machine was developed, capable of delivering up to 100kW laser power to the powder bed, which is up to 250 times more than that of other commercial systems on the market. The company’s proprietary simulation tools, in-process sensing, and machine algorithms monitor the complete production process in order to maximize productivity and ensure consistent quality across each machine.
Over the last few years, the company has grown to serve leading companies in the defense, aerospace, medical, and semiconductor industries with precision-engineered components and assemblies. For instance, VulcanForms supplies over a dozen US Department of Defense (DoD) programs, including the F35 Joint Strike Fighter and Patriot Air Defense System, and has also created thousands of components for the semiconductor sector.
“VulcanForms has built the physical infrastructure and digital workflows to deliver this full-stack manufacturing solution at unprecedented speed, precision, quality, and scale,” said Feldmann. “Our technologies combined with our team of engineering and operations leaders from Google, General Electric, Pratt & Whitney, Precision Castparts, IPG Photonics, Faro Technologies, Schlumberger, Alcoa, Autodesk, among others enable our customers to innovate, grow and deliver sustainable impact faster.”
A $355 million rise in capital
VulcanForms secured its first bout of seed funding from Eclipse Ventures in 2017 and went on to successfully complete a Series A funding round in 2019 to establish its headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts.
Now, the company has received another substantial capital injection totaling $355 million, taking its valuation to over $1 billion. The funding round saw participation from Eclipse Ventures, State Venture Partners, Fontinalis Partners, D1 Capital Partners, Standard Investments, Atlas Innovate, Boston Seed Capital, Industry Ventures, and the Simkins Family.
The additional funding will support the company in providing new and existing customers with its integrated approach to LPBF additive manufacturing in a bid to allow them to innovate faster and at scale, without making large capital investments of their own.
“VulcanForms brings forth metal additive manufacturing as a scalable industrial process, and as a cornerstone of breakthrough digital production systems,” said Hart. “Integrated digital production facilities are critical infrastructure which will accelerate domestic and global innovation and draw top talent to the manufacturing sector.”
Alongside the new funding announcement, the company also revealed the completion of its first two digital production facilities. VulcanOne, based in Devens, Massachusetts, is kitted out with a fleet of the firm’s 100kW LPBF 3D printing systems which in total will deliver more than two megawatts of laser capacity. Meanwhile, its Newburyport facility, also in Massachusetts, will focus on automated precision machining and assembly operations.
The two facilities will be linked by a digital thread to provide what VulcanForms says is a “groundbreaking” US-based digital manufacturing infrastructure to its customers. Within the VulcanOne facility, the form’s proprietary LPBF technology will be combined with a digital thread of advanced simulation, in-process sensing, and machine learning algorithms designed to ensure the highest level of quality and precision.
The firm’s fleet of 100kW LPBF systems represents a $100 million investment by the firm, with the new facility also creating more than 100 new 3D printing-related jobs on-site. Through its two facilities, VulcanForms is aiming seamlessly integrate additive production at scale with its heat treatment, precision machining, assembly, and inspection capabilities.
With its new end-to-end digital-first process chain, the company will be able to deliver engineered components and assemblies tailored to each customer’s needs, while also undoing the harm that decades of offshoring have caused the US manufacturing sector in terms of displacing critical manufacturing know-how and infrastructure to other countries, and leaving global supply chains fragile.
“There is a fundamental shift in the ways manufacturers need to adapt to global supply chain challenges and the increasing demands for product design flexibility,” said Greg Reichow, Partner at Eclipse Ventures and Director of VulcanForms. “VulcanForms’ full-stack approach to delivering an engineered solution, combining advanced additive and subtractive technologies merged through a digital thread will revitalize US manufacturing and hardware innovation.
“The technologies that enable this agile workflow will dramatically impact the way products are imagined, designed, built, and delivered for decades to come.”
Improving US manufacturing resilience
While recent global events like the Covid-19 pandemic, the Suez Canal blockage, and the shortage of semiconductor chips have all exposed significant weaknesses in supply chains throughout the world, they have been under considerable strain for decades.
Distributed manufacturing has become increasingly appealing to manufacturers wishing to shore up the resiliency of their operations, and 3D printing is one technology with the capability to provide firms with greater supply chain flexibility.
In the US in particular, America Makes has initiated the Advanced Manufacturing Crisis Production Response (AMCPR) program to showcase the role 3D printing can play in bolstering supply chains beyond the pandemic, while the American Petroleum Institute (API) has added a new standard designed to help strengthen the supply chain resiliency of the nation’s oil and gas companies.
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Featured image shows VulcanForms’ new production facility. Photo via VulcanForms.