Investment trends in 3D printing composites
Since 2014, there has been a surge in investment into companies engaging in the 3D printing of composites, with almost $250 million raised to date. The latest report from IDTechEx 3D Printing Composites 2020-2030: Technology and Market Analysis authored by Dr Bryony Core and Dr Richard Collins examines the key trends and innovations in this emerging technology.
3D printing composite market leader Markforged was incorporated in 2013 by CEO and founder Greg Mark with an aspiration to enable industrial customers to create same day high strength parts from composite and subsequently metal materials. To this end, they have raised $137 million across 5 funding rounds; however much of this has been raised following the announcement of their development of Metal X, their low-cost metal 3D printer.
The Californian 3D printing composite service bureau, Arevo has raised over $20 million since 2016, for their laser based continuous carbon fibre reinforced PEEK printer, which is similar to automated fibre placement technology. Arevo demonstrated the potential of this technology at the IDTechEx Show! USA 2018 when they showcased a carbon fibre bike with substantially reduced lead times and development costs (pictured).
Image: Carbon fibre reinforced bike by Arevo at the IDTechEx Show! USA 2018
Other companies attracting significant attention from investors in 2019 are disruptive start-ups offering substantial technological innovations. Such start-ups include Impossible Objects who raised almost $10 million prior to announcing an additional $4.1 million for their CBAM printer, Fortify who have raised $12.5 million for an aligned fibre vat photopolymerisation printer, and finally the newcomer Arris Composites.
In May 2019, start-up Arris Composites announced it closed $10 million in Series A funding, led by NEA. Arris has spent the past two years in stealth developing the ultimate metal replacement — continuous carbon fiber composites — that can be combined with metals, plastics, wires, and other materials for aerospace, automotive, and consumer products. Arris are continuing to operate in stealth mode while they develop their technology. In a recent press release, Ethan Escowitz, Founder and CEO of Arris Composites explained more: "The product architectures that are now possible with our high-volume manufacturing process unlock a host of competitive advantages for some of the highest revenue and highest value products in the world. Vehicles and consumer products are being redesigned to take advantage of the mass market manufacturing technology of tomorrow. Things are about to get lighter and smaller, and Arris is making that a reality."
Arris continue to keep their cards close to their chest, disclosing little else; however, they stated that their technology will "address the scalability problem of 3D printing and the steep costs and limitations of composite manufacturing, Arris has assembled a team of industry leaders from both 3D printing and conventional high-volume manufacturing. They have developed precisely aligned composites using a novel high-speed manufacturing process that has disruptive design capabilities."
Some of the most exciting technology advancements being unveiled in 3D printing are enabling new processes and materials for composite 3D printing, which is being translated into significant attention from investors. Find out more about the technological and market trends and innovations in the field of 3D printing composites in IDTechEx's latest report 3D Printing Composites 2020-2030: Technology and Market Analysis by Dr Bryony Core and Dr Richard Collins. For more information, please visit our website.
Top image: Arevo