Changing How Metal Is Manufactured — Future of engineering, design and manufacturing

Big day today for our portfolio company DesktopMetal. They are revealing two metal 3D printing systems covering the full product lifecycle of metal parts production — from prototyping to mass production. These two systems are called DM Studio, and DM Production, and together they are expected to change how metal parts are designed and manufactured across industries. (Check out detailed reviews of the technology in Technology Review and Develop3D).

Metal 3D printing has traditionally been expensive, slow, and hard to work with in the absence of large upfront capital commitments in technology and infrastructure. DesktopMetal was founded in late 2015 to change that forever. Lux Capital is proud to have been associated with it since the beginning (here, and here), and now so excited the company can finally talk publicly about how they are revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. Ric, Jonah, Matt and the rest are really an incredible team, on a mission to build a global powerhouse in metal manufacturing. They are doing so by dramatically reducing the cost of metal 3D printing while simultaneously improving speed, versatility, safety and print quality.

The DesktopMetal Studio System is the first office-friendly metal 3D printing system. It is less than 1/10th the cost of a traditional metal 3D printer, and can be used to deliver complex and even impossible geometries of metal 3D printed parts right in an engineer’s office or on the shop floor. The DM Studio System uses Bound Metal Deposition (BMD), a proprietary process, with a cloud-based software to streamline the entire workflow so engineers can go from computer-aided design (CAD) software to printed parts seamlessly. The printer is designed to support hundreds of metal alloys.

The DesktopMetal Production System is 100x faster than existing metal 3D printing technologies, and dramatically changes the economics of 3D printing such that the cost-per-part can be competitive with mass production techniques like casting. The DM Production System uses new, proprietary Single Pass Jetting (SPJ) technology.

As a part of the company’s product announcement, several details are also provided how companies like BMW, Caterpillar and others are thinking about DesktopMetal systems in their own industries. Look for more info on DesktopMetal’s website. I have seen what these machines are able to produce, and it is honestly very very impressive. It has taken a deeply coordinated effort between material scientists, metallurgists, mechanical and electrical engineers, roboticists, and manufacturing experts to make this a reality, and I remain in awe.