A 3D printing startup known as Markforged has attracted an investment of $30 million from German car manufacturer Porsche as well as Siemens’ and Microsoft’s venture capital arms. This comes at a time when the initial excitement around 3D printing has somewhat cooled due to the fact that sales growth has been slower than expected. However manufacturers are making use of the technology to build custom prototypes.
The new investment now puts the total funding that Markforged has received at $57 million. In this funding round, the valuation of the company was not disclosed. Other investors who have previously put money in Markforged include Trinity Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and Matrix Partners.
This is the first time that Microsoft Ventures is investment in a startup focusing on 3D printing. Most of the investments that the venture capital arm of the software maker has made has been in areas such as cloud computing and machine learning.
The 3D printers that Markforged makes use various raw material to create objects and this includes carbon fiber which is a favorite in the aerospace sector due to the fact that it is strong but light in weight. So far 3D printers have faced challenges printing objects using a raw material such as carbon fiber because it tends clog the nozzle of the printer causing it to break. According to the chief executive officer and cofounder of Markforged, Gregory Mark, the startup has found a way around that which has given the 3D-printing firm an edge.
“Other startups offer 3D printers that either cannot print a range of materials or are not printing parts strong enough to dramatically impact manufacturing,” said Mark.
Per Mark all of the startup’s fundraising rounds were oversubscribed and the firm was thus in a position to be selective with regards to who it would partner with to ensure that they would be a great fit. Markforged also talked to regular venture capital firms who showed interest but the startup chose to go with leading global manufacturers as they offered more advantages.
According to Mark the startup is already profitable and is currently enjoying revenue growth of 300%. The funding was however necessary to assist the company in the development and release of new products as well as to ramp up the rate of growth. In 2018 Markforged intends to unveil a 3D printer that is capable of creating objects from metal, just like rival startup Desktop Metals is doing.