Boeing [BA] on Tuesday said its venture unit has made an investment in startup company Digital Alloys, Inc., which is developing additive manufacturing technology to be able to print metal parts at far lower costs, more reliably and faster than current 3D printing and conventional manufacturing techniques.
The investment in Massachusetts-based Digital Alloys is the second by Boeing’s HorizonX unit in a 3D printing company. In April, Boeing said it had invested in Morf3D, a three-year-old company that uses additive manufacturing to make titanium and aluminum components for aerospace applications.
Boeing is one of several investors in the $12.9 million Series B funding round for Digital Alloys. The financing was led by G20 Ventures and also includes Lincoln Electric [LECO] and Khosla Ventures, which is a prior investor in Digital Alloys. Boeing doesn’t disclose the amount of its HorizonX investments, other than to say they range from the low-single millions of dollars to low double-digit millions of dollars.
“Our investment in Digital Alloys will help Boeing produce metal structural aerospace parts faster and at higher volume than ever before,” Brian Schettler, managing director of Boeing HorizonX Ventures, said in a statement. “By investing in companies with emerging additive manufacturing technologies, we aim to strengthen Boeing’s expertise and help accelerate the design and manufacture of 3D-printed parts to transform production systems and products.”
For Digital Alloys, the investment will allow the company to provide printed parts by the end of 2018 and deliver its 3D printers next year, Duncan McCallum, the company’s CEO, told Defense Daily in a brief telephone interview. He said his company has orders from more than a dozen manufacturers.
In addition to printing parts, Digital Alloys’ additive manufacturing system makes tools, such as conformally cooled tools. McCallum said the company’s advanced tooling production is primarily for the automotive industry. For the aerospace industry, Digital Alloys’ production techniques of hard to cut metals, such as titanium, reduces costs related to scraps and rough cuts compared to conventional manufacturing, he said.
McCallum said Digital Alloys, which was founded in January 2017, has 20 employees and the investment will help the company double that total as soon as it’s able.
A spokeswoman for HorizonX told Defense Daily via an email response to questions that Boeing hasn’t identified specific applications yet from Digital Alloys’ capabilities for its portfolio of defense, commercial and space products, saying “We will assess its technology’s capabilities as Digital Alloys scales its operations.” She added that the company’s “patented metal additive manufacturing system can print specialized parts that could be used on current and future Boeing products.”