Stratasys and DSM Venturing, the venture capital arm of Royal DSM, led a $12 million funding round for Inkbit, the Massachusetts-based startup. Inkbit, founded in 2017 after it spun out of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), is credited with developing the multi-material inkjet 3D printer. Apart from Stratasys and DSM Venturing, the round had other participants, such as Ocado, the online grocery retailer, and 3M, the multinational science-technology and consumer goods company, and Saint-Gobain, the France-based multinational materials manufacturer. Davide Marini, Cofounder and CEO, Inkbit, has mentioned that the company now aims to commercialize its technology, expand material availability, and install the first units for the customers.
Marini added that the composition of the syndicate was selected to maximize the speed of development and commercialization of their platform, with each investor bringing to us their expertise in equipment manufacturing, high-performance materials, and applications in life sciences tools, medical devices, and robotics. Inkbit’s Inkjet technology, termed ‘a 3D printer with eyes and brains,’ has been designed to be able to learn the properties and predict the behavior of materials for additive manufacturing. Applying machine-vision and machine-learning, the idea was that the method would be able to rapidly expand the array of materials that can be processed with 3D inkjet technology. The Snapper was the Inkbit’s first prototype 3D printer, which was acquired earlier this year by partner Johnson and Johnson. It has 16 printing heads and a build volume of 450 x 250 x 250mm, which can work with multiple materials in a single print.
The printer was created with the aim to produce complete, end-use objects using a combination of flexible and rigid materials, and incorporate pre-fabricated electric components and chips. Initially scheduled for release later this year, Inkbit now plans to commercially release its systems in 2021, promising to provide its customers “volume production capabilities, higher accuracy, and automated quality assurance for every printed part.”