Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Since the beginning of the global pandemic earlier this year, we have witnessed a flow of new investment rounds in 3D printing companies that creates the feeling of acceleration rather than a slowdown. Both known and relatively new vendors that were on stealth-mode until recently seem to attract long-term investors despite troubling economical times. Examining the list of the companies that have managed to raise significant amounts during the pandemic reveals an interesting picture of the future of the 3D printing industry.
The shining starts
If we examine the following nine companies that announced successful investment rounds during this year (partial list), we start to see an interesting picture – investments go to metal, plastic, and unique technologies:
As one of the fastest-growing solution segments in industry, there is a very good reason why metal is at the top of investors lists. The metal 3D printing companies on the list are focusing on developing solutions that aim to scale up metal AM with fully industrial and automated systems such as Additive Industries, faster production speed of end-use parts with Desktop Metal production systems, and Velo3D with their SupportFree technology for producing large parts from a variety of materials. The common ground for these companies is breaking the familiar boundaries of both traditional and AM metal manufacturing methods/technologies.
Despite the fact there are many more 3D printing companies developing plastic solutions then metal, funds go to the ones that are offering technologies with unique value propositions. High-performance materials for medical applications by Kumovis, definitely an interesting niche that would benefit from materials such as medical grade PEEK, fast polymers printing speed by Azul3D to enable the production of end-use parts in large quantities, and Arevo with their continuous carbon-fiber technology for producing strong and lightweight parts for a variety of applications such as sporting goods and airplane seat brackets.
Unique niche solutions
When moving out of metal and plastic technologies, innovation thrives with new solutions that are intended to solve very specific challenges in traditional manufacturing and post-processing methods. These include Nano Dimension with their AM system for electronics, a huge industry dominated by traditional manufacturing techniques, Nanofabrica with precise and super-high-resolution technology for mold inserts, and Dyemansion, the developer of automated post-processing solutions for scaling up the last step in the digital manufacturing workflow.
Micron resolution AM. Image source: Nanofabrica, Israel
What about 3D Software?
We can’t close this list without mentioning 3D software companies that have managed to raise funds during 2019 such as Castor – decision support system, and Link3D – AM workflow and MES system. One of the recent funds rising in this solution segment is 3YOURMIND – optimization of end-to-end AM processes, with 5.5M$ just last week. It is super encouraging to witness the evolution of 3D software solutions that aim to solve critical bottlenecks on the design, simulation and workflow side.
If we zoom out to see the full picture, we can conclude the following:
New investments are flowing into the three pillars of the AM end-to-end workflow: 3D Software, 3D Printing, and Automated Post-Processing solutions.
3D companies that aim to take AM to production are the top of the list for big investors.
Metal and plastic technologies will continue to lead the growth of the industry, with the help of the right software and post-processing solutions that are essential for enabling full automation.
Investors believe in the vision of digital manufacturing but are aware that although there are no quick wins, there is still a way to achieve success.
Despite the global economic slowdown, the fact that leading 3D printing companies are presenting weak results, and the fact that so many public events have been canceled, the 3D printing industry is strong and moving full speed ahead.