The developer of a novel mass 3D printing technology, Evolve Additive Solutions, has announced additional investment support by Stanley Black & Decker through a new round of investment funding as it looks to accelerate its growth and new market opportunities.
This second stage of undisclosed funding revealed on Thursday supports Evolve’s vision of expansion into new markets, applications, and opportunities. In 2017, Evolve raised $19 million in equity funding with the LEGO Brand Group and Stanley Black & Decker investing in its STEP (Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process) 3D printing process, which this year began its Beta system phase and will soon move into commercial sales, ahead of next years expected industry integration.
Designed for automated manufacturing and full incorporation onto the factory-floor, the company’s breakthrough technology allows users to employ production-grade thermoplastics for volume manufacturing applications across multiple industries, including automotive, industrial, and medical.
Evolve’s STEP technology is expected to sit on the manufacturing floor alongside traditional manufacturing processes, such as injection molding, and the company claims it will augment an organization’s production capabilities allowing freedom of design and faster time to market with “toolless” production. This new scalable and extensible solution combines Evolve’s own proprietary technology with electrophotography to produce additive manufactured parts that meet or exceed the quality of traditionally fabricated ones.
“Stanley Black & Decker is excited about the continued relationship. Evolve’s vision in the Additive Manufacturing space enables the company to commercialize this new state-of-the-art technology and provide high quality production parts,” said Larry Harper, vice president of Stanley Ventures for Stanley Black & Decker.
An S&P 500 company, Stanley Black & Decker is well known as a global provider of hand tools, power tools, electronic security solutions, healthcare solutions, engineered fastening systems, and much more. In recent years, it has taken on projects that entail 3D-printed parts, 3D printing materials, and supporting 3D printing startups. Moreover, Evolve’s additive manufacturing technology is expected to have great potential in the production of high-quality, medium-volume plastic components for a number of Stanley Black & Decker’s product categories.
“Our continued relationship expands our market opportunity,” stated Steve Chillscyzn, CEO and founder of Evolve. “As a startup organization that is redefining the market, the continued confidence and trust from Stanley gives us proof that there is a strong demand for our technology in the marketplace”.
What started in 2009 as a research project led by Chillscyzn to introduce 3D printing for manufacturing, has become a potentially robust technology platform for manufacturers across many industries to develop products made with engineering plastics. Born out of Stratasys, the incubation project turned independent company already has over 100 granted and pending patents and more than 21 engineers working on its underlying technology system which was built from the ground up, instead of revamping or rethinking other industrial technologies.
The STEP process combines time-tested 2D imaging technology with proprietary subsystems developed by Evolve to precisely align incoming layers and bond them to create final parts that are fully dense with isotropic properties, that the company claims are equal or even exceed those of injection molding.
STEP technology introduces a range of new features that could radically improve manufacturing. From a lower cost per part for short to medium batch sizes to multiple material printing and industry 4.0. As the Minneapolis-based company approaches full commercialization it has already established a joint agreement with German specialty chemicals company Evonik to work together on new formulations of thermoplastic materials that can be used in Evolve’s STEP process, which was designed to function with production-grade thermoplastics. So that, along with the expectations surrounding Evolve’s new technology, users will also have a lot to look forward to in terms of material choices, as the combined efforts of the partners could result in a wider range of materials for users and more 3D printing material choices for production than are commonly utilized in traditionally manufactured products.
Last year, after Evolve’s STEP system entered the Alpha development stage and was sent for testing to a strategic partner’s manufacturing headquarters, the company had already begun looking for Beta partners that could benefit from a technology like STEP to produce what they refer to as “true manufacturing with additive at volume.” Evolve directors even suggested they were actively discussing participation in the STEP Beta program with companies across many industries including automotive, aerospace, consumer goods, industrial manufacturing, and medical.
With Evolve’s STEP technology expected to begin commercial sales later this year, this additional investment enables the company to further strengthen its brand momentum and capitalize on its position as a new global player in the additive manufacturing market.