Technologies of the future: BMW I Ventures invested in metal 3D printing

Vadim Kulibaba
  • Technologies of the future: BMW I Ventures invested in metal 3D printing

The future is near - 3D printing to the masses. Like BMW, other "monsters" are becoming more technological. They are trying to create a device which everyone could afford to buy - put a 3D printer in the office or at home, connect it to a laptop and print up.

Unbelievable? But it's true!

Technology does not stand still, but always marches ahead. Who would have thought that the things that we read about in science fiction books and saw in fantasy movies, will appear in our daily lives so quickly? Now it's three-dimensional printing of different custom products (including automobiles) in plastic and metal.


Technologies for Metal 3D Printing

Until recently it was believed that the only cost-effective method of manufacturing three-dimensional metal structures is the casting. But with emerging 3D printing technologies everything has changed. Additive manufacturing technology provided a tough competition to the traditional methods in the metal-production. Large corporations have already benefited from the 3D printing technology. 3D printers are already being used in production at General Motors factories, Boeing, Mitsubishi, and General Electric.


New startups

The pioneers of 3D printing are 3D Systems and Arcam. But it is unlikely they will remain dominant companies in this area. In 2015 they ended their patents, which means that everyone has the right to create new and improve the existing equipment for metal 3D printing. In the same year a company Desktop Metal was launched, which introduced its upgrade to the invention.

To conduct these experiments, a lot of resources and funds are needed, but this novelty received a lot of support from the sponsors. Now everyone understands that those who own the cheapest, the fastest and the most efficient technology, will become market leaders. Therefore, large companies and corporations have subsidiaries which are engaged in high-risk investments like such research. For example, only recently BMW I Ventures, Google Ventures, and several other companies have invested in development of the 3D printing technology about $45 million dollars. And Desktop Metal Company has already collected almost 140 million dollars since it was launched.

The startup has about 75 engineers and other professionals. Their main task is to make the printer affordable, not only for the giants of the industry, but also for medium-sized and even small businesses. At the moment, existing printers cost hundreds of millions of dollars, require a lot of time, huge energy consumption, and have a very complex technical process to produce one unit. Desktop Metal have a fundamentally new idea of ​​3D printing technology. CEO and co-founder Ric Fulop says that they are trying to create a device which everyone could afford to buy and put in the office, connect it to a laptop and make three-dimensional metal objects using their 3D printing technology. Perhaps, it's Desktop Metal which will become the company that will give the possibility to produce metal products using 3D printers at home.



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