Inkbit: Improved 3D Printing
August 30, 2021 | Ashley Brindamour
The capabilities of 3D printing are driving advancements across industries, such as rapid prototyping, improved product quality and consistency, reduced manufacturing costs, and more. As a result, the 3D printing market is estimated to reach a global market value of $37.2 billion by 2026.
Alumni Ventures portfolio company Inkbit is addressing this large market by creating a multi-material 3D printing system for advanced additive manufacturing systems. Through a unique process called vision-controlled jetting (VCJ), the company’s platform integrates machine vision systems and AI technologies to offer better reliability, throughput, precision, and quality.
Inkbit’s technology has the potential to transform many industries by giving businesses the tools to rapidly produce multi-material and end-use products. Examples of the many uses and benefits of 3D printing technology include:
- Healthcare: Manufacturing skin, body parts, and organs with cells compatible with a particular person’s anatomy reduces the potential for rejection.
- Aerospace: Printing engine parts, satellite pieces, aircraft body parts, and drones to facilitate takeoffs and landings improves aerospace manufacturing and production.
- Construction: Fabricating hardware, tools, etc., cuts down labor time and cost.
Tim Steiner, the CEO of Ocado Technologies and an Inkbit customer states, “Inkbit [is] enabling some really fantastic transformational advances.” Inkbit’s customer pipeline also includes NSF, Johnson & Johnson, The Engine Network, and DARPA.
What We Liked About Inkbit
Unique Competitive Advantage: Inkbit offers an end-to-end VCJ manufacturing platform with superior accuracy, durability, variety of materials, and resistance compared to traditional stereolithography, digital light processing, and inkjet technology.
Attractive Business Model: Inkbit boasts strong unit economics, including high-margin recurring revenue streams from materials, services, and software.
Defensible Technology Moat: Inkbit can print both soft and rigid materials together in the same part. The company currently has nine approved patents and 13 pending.
Strong Team: Inkbit’s team includes a board of directors with a combined $2.5 billion in exits, as well as industry-leading corporate investors to provide direct technology and application expertise.
Castor Ventures and the MIT Network
Inkbit’s core technology was developed at MIT in the lab of Professor Wojciech Matusik, a pioneer in computational manufacturing at the school’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab. Alumni Ventures’ Castor Ventures (for MIT community) sponsored our investment in Inkbit’s $30 million Series B round led by Phoenix Venture Partners LLC.
Like the best venture deals, the round was oversubscribed and Alumni Ventures was able to secure allocation through developing multi-year relationships with both the company (Senior Principal Isaac Schlecht & CEO Davide Marini) and the lead investor (Senior Partner Alain Hanover & Managing GP John Chen). This is an excellent example of the entrepreneurial power within the MIT network.