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Selling affordable solutions for metal 3-D printing
The world of additive manufacturing has widely been promoted as the embodiment of the future. 3D printers are the machines that are making this into a reality. Using metal as the raw material for printing has made 3D printing more than just a hobby. Airline juggernauts like Airbus and General Electric have been replacing traditionally made engine parts with lighter, 3D printed ones. This saves them millions in fuel costs. The major downside to all this has been the $1 million price tag. MatterFab, founded in 2013, came to the rescue with the goal of making metal-based additive manufacturing affordable.
The Seattle based startup had a promising pitch and a noble cause - Making metal-based additive manufacturing an affordable reality. The company had stated that this is because of the experience of the team, which allows them to pull a dozen different engineering disciplines together and come up with workable solutions. MatterFab had initially shown serious promise, as their 3D printers were supposed to be about 10% of the price of a regular metal 3D printer.
MatterFab received $7.48M funding in February 2015. This was followed by $5.75M in May of that year, making the startup one of the most funded new enterprises in the 3D printing industry. Investors included GE and AutoDesk.
One cause for the failure of this once-promising startup can be stated in the words of Josh Ewing from AutoDesk - “We believed in MatterFab’s approach and vision, but unfortunately it didn’t succeed in the marketplace.”
Dave Warren, who is the co-founder and former CTO had left MatterFab in March 2016 to pursue a career with a Stealth Drone Startup. The other co-founder, Matt Burris had already left in October 2015. The reasoning from the investors' perspectives was that they needed a more experienced management team to lead the business. That team that followed them included Matt Paterson (the CTO brought in to replace Warren), but Patterson himself left MatterFab in March 2017.
A deeper problem besides this was the sad financial state of the company. With over $13 million raised since February 2015, the company appears to have burned through over half a million a month in 2016 alone!
Also, with GE purchasing established metal AM enterprises (like Concept Laser and Arcam) and their plans to launch the world’s largest metal 3D printer (ATLAS), their initial enthusiasm in investing in MatterFab may have evaporated before things could take-off successfully.
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