Digital Alloys CEO Duncan McCallum, presenting at our recent Annual Meeting.

Why We Invested: Digital Alloys

When it comes to metal printing, there had to be a better way. We think these guys have found it.

G20 Ventures focuses on early stage, enterprise software investments… So how in the world did we end up leading the financing at the revolutionary new 3D metal printing company, Digital Alloys? As usual, the story starts with people, in this case mixed with an accelerating market trend, and an understanding of the technology challenges we think — despite the hype — have been holding this opportunity back from widespread adoption for commercial manufacturing. Let’s take a deeper look at each.

Digital Alloys is led by Duncan McCallum, someone I’ve known as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist since the time I moved to Boston 15 years ago. Duncan is a driven, analytical, transparent communicator with a demonstrated passion for this project. I made the trip out to Digital Alloys in March, just to catch up on what Duncan was up to. I left incredibly intrigued by what they were doing. Here’s the email I sent to my partners from the parking lot as I was leaving:

Mar 1
to Mike, Bob
Duncan’s company is very interesting but outside of our sweet spot and not without its challenges. High level summary attached. Let’s discuss Monday. Headed back to the office now.
Sent from my iPhone

A week later, Bob, Mike, and I were driving through a late winter snowstorm to see Duncan again and meet the rest of the team. We left that meeting believing they had the right people to take this company forward, and that they had invented and commercialized a radically simple approach to high speed, low cost printing of the hardest parts. The company’s patented Joule Printing™ technology is one of those ideas that, once you see it, you wonder why others hadn’t thought of it. After talking to industry experts, customers and major industry players in the additive manufacturing market like Lincoln Electric and Boeing who have joined us in this financing, we were convinced that our initial impressions were well founded.

With respect to the technology, we liked that no materials innovation was required to make the system work (the printers use commodity wire as their feedstock), and that the printers themselves could be assembled from readily available components, reducing hardware risk. Much of the company’s core IP is actually embedded in the system’s control software, an area we know well and as a result, a risk we could get comfortable taking. See below to get a first hand look at the Digital Alloys printer in action.

The move to additive manufacturing is a market mega-trend we want to participate in, and Digital Alloys represents the right mix of people, technology, and strategy to stretch the boundaries a bit on our investment focus. We look forward to working with Duncan and his team, and to riding this powerful technology into the global manufacturing mainstream.

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