Essentium, a 3-D printing firm, raised $22 million in a Series A round led by BASF Venture Capital, whose investment manager, Sven Thate, will join its board of directors. Materialise and Genesis Park also invested, as did Essentium’s previous seed investors.
The funding has been in the works for some time, as College Station, Texas-based Essentium has been working closely with BASF and Materialise to advance its technologies. Essentium developed a High Speed Extrusion (HSE) 3-D printing platform, furthering work on its FlashFuse technology with BASF to enhance the mechanical strength of extrusion-based 3-D printing. Materialise is developing the software.
Chemical giant BASF has also been working with both Materialise and Essentium; last year, the company announced a $25 million investment in Materialise and a materials partnership with Essentium to create a global material supply chain for HSE. The three companies are leveraging one another’s expertise in processes, software and materials for advanced 3-D printing.
These three partners see a joint strength in working together to bring extrusion-based 3-D printing (known as Fused Filament Fabrication, or FFF, and commonly referred to by Stratasys’ trademarked term Fused Deposition Modeling, or FDM) into manufacturing.
FFF 3-D printing was at the heart of the crushing consumer bubble burst several years ago that led many to declare 3-D printing “dead” when the technology failed to live up to the hype around its reliability and ease of use for consumer technologies. As 3-D printing matures as part of a scalable additive manufacturing workflow, FFF/FDM is being re-examined as a process that is increasingly proving its applicability for industry and scale production.