Desktop Metal Grabs $45M from Google, BMW and Lowe’s
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on February 14, 2017 |
Little is still known about Desktop Metal, but the company keeps receiving multimillion dollar inves...

Desktop Metal. A 3D printing start-up whose name alone conjures up visions of what the company is capable of. We’ve yet to learn exactly what it’s up to, except that an affordable desktop metal 3D printer is in the works and that a lot of big investors are throwing money at it. The latest are Google, BMW and Lowe's, which recently contributed $45 million to Desktop Metal in a Series C investment round.

With the funding, Desktop Metal aims to continue developing its platform with the intention of launching a product later this year. This latest funding round, led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), brings the start-up’s total funding to $96.76 million. Previous investors included GE Ventures, Saudi Aramco, Stratasys, as well as NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Lux Capital.

In the firm's latest press release, Ric Fulop, CEO and cofounder of Desktop Metal, said, “Just as plastic 3D printing paved the way for rapid prototyping, metal 3D printing will make a profound impact on the way companies both prototype and mass produce parts across all major industries. We are fortunate to have the backing of a leading group of strategic investors who support both our vision and our technology, and who are pivotal in propelling our company forward as we prepare for our product introduction in 2017.”

Uwe Higgen, managing partner of BMW i Ventures, gave a rationale for BMW's interest in the technology, saying, “Advances in metal 3D printing are driving innovation across a wide range of automotive applications, and we are excited to work with Desktop Metal as part of our vision in adopting additive manufacturing at BMW. From rapid prototyping and printing exceptional quality parts for end-use production, to freedom of design and mass customization, Desktop Metal is shaping the way cars will be imagined, designed and manufactured.”

The likes of Magic Leap and Theranos have taught us not to believe in tech unicorns, even if they receive investment support from Google. It's difficult to say if the case is different when it comes to Desktop Metal, which now employs 75 engineers, such as binder jetting inventor Ely Sachs and MIT’s Materials Science and Engineering Chair Chris Schuh. Fulop also has experience in the 3D printing industry, having invested in Markforged, ProtoLabs, Onshape and SOLIDWORKS.

In other words, the team's background makes you want to believe in unicorns. If Desktop Metal can really bring a relatively low-cost metal 3D printer to the industry, metal 3D printing may become more widespread than previously thought possible.

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