AON3D Closes $ 11.5M Series A, Partners with Astrobotic to Ship 3D-Printed Parts to the Moon – TechCrunch

3D printing has generated a lot of excitement, much of it for good reason: Technology has unlocked new types of object shapes and geometries, and it uses materials that tend to be much lighter than their traditionally manufactured counterparts. But there are still high barriers to entry for many companies that do not have training in additive manufacturing or that need to use materials that are not suitable for a traditional 3D printer.

3D printing startup AON3D wants to remove both barriers by increasing automation and, more importantly, making more 3D-printable materials, and has raised a Series A of $ 11.5 million to achieve this.

The company manufactures industrial 3D printers for thermoplastics. What sets the AON3D platform apart is that it is material independent, explained co-founder Kevin Han, meaning that printers can accept the more than 70,000 commercially available thermoplastic compounds or even a custom blend. That’s the true advancement of the company, according to its founders: the ability to convert existing materials already used by customers, ready for 3D printing.

“The real big innovation beyond hardware cost is on the material side,” co-founder Randeep Singh explained to TechCrunch in a recent interview. “We can incorporate a new material from a large company […] we take that material that a customer may need to use for a specific reason, run a bunch of tests, and turn it into a 3D printable process. “

In doing so, AON3D says it also opens up additive manufacturing to many more companies, who may want to pursue 3D printing but cannot fundamentally change their materials to get there. With the AON3D process, they don’t have to, Han explained.

The company was founded by Han, Singh, and Andrew Walker, who met while studying materials engineering at McGill University in Montreal. AON3D was born in large part from what the trio saw as a gap in the market between 3D printers that are very expensive (up to hundreds of thousands per machine) and the more consumer-oriented printers that do not exceed two hundred dollars. .

They started operating 3D printers as a service, before launching a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 that ultimately raised CAN $ 89,643 ($ 71,064) to bring the company’s first 3D printer, the AON, to backers. Six years later, they have raised a total of $ 14.2 million in funding. This latest round was led by SineWave Ventures with the participation of AlleyCorp and Y Combinator Continuity. Also participating were BDC, EDC, Panache Ventures, MANA Ventures, Josh Richards & Griffin Johnson and SV angels.

Beyond selling custom printers and materials, AON3D also works with companies on an ongoing basis, providing additive manufacturing training and ensuring their printer parameters are suitable for the parts they want to make.

The company has found a number of customers in the aerospace industry, in part due to weight advantages, crucial to space businesses, where the economy comes down largely to payload size, as well as cost, time. and the ability to use geometries that are not possible through injection molding or traditional manufacturing processes.

That includes Astrobotic Technology, a lunar exploration startup that aims to send a lander to the moon on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2022. Hundreds of parts will be printed aboard the mission with AON3D’s AON M2 + high-temperature printer, which will likely be the first additively manufactured parts to touch the lunar surface. These include mounting components, including critical parts in avionics boxes.

Image credits: Astrobotic

“This [partnership] it’s giving Astrobotic the ability to use materials that they want to use very quickly, ”said Singh. “Otherwise they have a really long wait time for similar material to work in a different process.” Injection molding with high-performance polymers, for example, can have a lead time of many months, he added, compared to a day or two with 3D printing.

Going forward, the company will use the capital from this funding round to build a dedicated large-scale materials lab and grow its team. The company also wants to fully automate the 3D printing process, using data that comes from the materials lab, so that any company can start using additive manufacturing for its products.

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