BMW, Google, And Lowe's Invest In Boston-Based Metal 3D Printing Startup

A 3D printed car made by Divergent 3D, which is claimed to be a more environmentally friendly and cost effective way to build cars, is displayed during the four-day auto trade show AutoMobility LA at the Los Angeles Convention Center on November 17, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

BMW’s venture capital arm has invested in a startup focused on incorporating metal 3D printing into the design and manufacturing process. Along with GV, formerly known as Google Ventures, and Lowe’s Ventures, the investment from BMW iVentures brings Burlington, Mass.-based Desktop Metal’s Series C funding to $45 million.

Advances in metal 3D printing, which allows manufacturers to make complex parts faster, are driving innovation across a wide range of automotive applications, BMW iVentures Managing Partner Uwe Higgen said in a statement Monday. “From rapid prototyping and printing exceptional quality parts for end-use production, to freedom of design and mass customization, Desktop Metal is shaping the way cars will be imaged, designed and manufactured.”

BMW iVentures said in November it is creating a new fund of up to $530 million over the next decade to invest in startups shaping the future of transportation. The automaker’s venture capital arm, which operates independently of BMW Group, moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, Calif., from New York and plans to expand its presence overseas.

Desktop Metal has raised $97 million since launching in October 2015. Previous investors include NEA, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Lux Capital, GE Ventures, Saudi Aramco, and 3D printing company Stratasys, according to the company. Several professors from M.I.T. and executives from battery-maker A123 Systems compose the Boston-area startup’s leadership team.

“Just as plastic has redefined rapid prototyping, metal 3D printing will make a profound impact on the way companies manufacture rapid prototypes and mass produce parts across all major industries,” said Ric Fulop, chief executive and co-founder of Desktop Metal.

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