Business

Desktop Metal scores another big round of venture funds

Burlington-based 3-D metal printing company Desktop Metal Inc. has raised $160 million in additional venture funding, with an investment arm of Koch Industries leading the way. The cash injection comes as Desktop Metal prepares to launch a new printing system designed to crank out metal parts on an industrial scale.

“This is going to allow us to expand our roadmap and develop a few new products that we’re very excited about,” said company founder Ric Fulop.

The private firm has so far raised about $438 million, and Fulop estimated the latest round valued the company at about $1.5 billion.

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Most 3-D printers spray layers of plastic to create solid three-dimensional parts. Desktop Metal does it with powdered metals such as steel, titanium and copper mixed with a binding agent. The system can create complex shapes without the need to build costly molds. The finished object is baked in an oven to remove the binding agent and turn it into a piece of solid metal.

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“This allows you to do things that you cannot do with casting or machining,” said Fulop.

Desktop Metal already sells a $50,000 metal printer for making prototype parts or small manufacturing runs. In February, the company is scheduled to begin selling a $750,000 unit that is designed to rapidly produce large numbers of printed parts, at a cost that predicted will make 3-D printing competitive with traditional manufacturing.

The market for 3-D metal printing hit $1 billion last year and is expected to be a $3.1 billion market by 2023, according to research firm SmarTech Markets Publishing.

Fulop said that as a major producer of oil and gas, Koch Industries uses lots of specialized metal parts. “They are one of the largest users of 3D printing in the world,” he said.

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Koch Disruptive Technologies led the funding round, with additional funding from GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, Panasonic and Techtronic Industries.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeTechLab.