AON3D ‘printed parts for the moon’ grabs $14 million

Montreal’s AON3D is raising $14.4 million (US $11.5 million) as it seeks to enable large scale production of end-use thermoplastic parts, including the first 3D printed objects to successfully land on the moon.

The cash is coming via lead investor Wave Ventures, with participation from AlleyCorp, Y Combinator Continuity, BDC Capital, EDC, Panache Ventures, MANA Ventures, social-media influencers Josh Richards & Griffin Johnson, and Silicon Valley angel investors.

AON3D will use the money for 3D printing research and development, and to hire more people.

Techcrunch detailed how the company was founded by CEO Kevin Han, Randeep Singh and Andrew Walker, who met while studying materials engineering at McGill University. AON3D was largely born out of what the trio saw as a gap in the market between 3D printers that are very expensive — up to hundreds of thousands per machine — and more consumer-geared printers that aren’t much more than a couple of hundred bucks.

A Kickstarter campaign in 2015 garnered CAN $89,600 (US $71,000) to bring the company’s debut 3D printer, the AON, to backers. Six years later, they’ve raised a total of US $14.2 million in funding

“What distinguishes AON3D’s platform is that it’s materials-agnostic, co-founder Kevin Han explained, meaning the printers are able to accept the more than 70,000 commercially available thermoplastic composites or even a custom blend. That’s the company’s real breakthrough, according to its founders: the ability to turn 3D-printing ready existing materials already used by clients,” noted Techcrunch’s Aria Alamalhodaei.

“Our printers’ ability to 3D print the lightest and strongest end-use parts—from virtually any of the highest-grade available thermoplastics—is what makes AON3D able to manufacture critical components for the most extreme use cases,” said CEO Kevin Han. “We believe the 3D printing future is more open source and financially accessible so SMBs have access to the same hardware as top firms.”

The new funding is also coming with AON3D’s new partnership with Astrobotic for their Peregrine Moon Lander (PM1) mission. The Astrobotic mission is set to become the first US lunar lander to soft land on the moon since Apollo 17. Hundreds of 3D printed parts from AON3D are onboard, poised to be the first additively manufactured end-use parts to successfully touch the moon.

The lunar hardware includes 3D printed essential bracketry components, including fixtures within integral avionics boxes, which perform all mission-critical command and data handling for the lander. AON3D technology also created the capsules within DHL MoonBox, a light-weight vessel used to transport space-freight payloads for private citizens. The MoonBox is designed to withstand the harsh extremes of space and keep items safe on the lunar surface.

“There is no environment as demanding as the vacuum of space, and we need parts that are able to withstand the immense challenges of launch and spaceflight,” said Astrobotic Mechanical Engineer Clay Inman. “Being able to go from full-scale, economical prototypes to space-ready parts was huge for achieving our ambitious goals. Now, we can rigorously test our parts, create custom tooling, and then go right into printing proprietary, mission-ready components with engineering grade materials.”

AON3D currently supplies printers for 250+ customers in 25 countries around the world, including Blue Origin, NASA, and the United States Air Force. The company says it helps businesses achieve their 3D printing needs “by manufacturing 3D printers that boast the largest sub-$50k build volume—exemplified by the company’s AON M2+.”

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