3D Printing Startup NVBots Nabs Cash & New CEO, Moves Into Metal

Boston-based 3D printing startup New Valence Robotics announced it has raised more money from investors and brought in a new CEO to help build the business, while its founding CEO turns his attention to commercializing a new product for the company.

Swiss firm Woodman Asset Management led the Series A investment in the startup, which goes by NVBots. The size of the deal wasn’t disclosed. NVBots previously raised at least $2 million from investors.

NVBots also announced that Duncan McCallum has joined the company as CEO. He previously co-founded, led, and sold two companies: Cilk Arts, acquired by Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), and VeloBit, acquired by Western Digital-owned HGST. Before that, he was an investor with Bessemer Venture Partners and Flagship Ventures.

McCallum takes over for NVBots co-founder AJ Perez, who is now the company’s chairman and will also lead its NVLabs division, which is working on rolling out a metal-making 3D printer.

NVBots currently sells a 3D printer that creates plastic parts and is operated by software the startup developed in-house. As Perez told Xconomy in 2014, he and his co-founders worked with 3D printers while studying at MIT. They were frustrated because the machine they were using lacked capabilities for remotely collaborating on the design and controlling the printer.

So, they created what the company calls an automated 3D printing system. Using Web-based software, teams of users can configure how they want a plastic part to be made and direct the printing process from anywhere. The machine has a robotic arm that automatically removes the part and sets it aside, so the next job can start immediately.

NVBots initially targeted schools as its customers, the goal being to make learning science more fun and interactive, while also generating interest in 3D printing among students who might become buyers of professional 3D printers in the future, Perez has said.

The startup still sells to schools, but now it also serves companies like Staples. It has more than 50 customers, and now the plan is to use the funding and McCallum’s expertise to grow the company.

“As NVBOTS continues its rapid growth, I am excited about adding financial support from Woodman and bringing on someone of Duncan’s caliber to lead day-to-day operations,” Perez said in a press release. “Duncan brings more than 20 years of experience building successful technology companies.”

The new funds will be used to more than double the company’s roughly 20-person staff, according to a company statement provided to Xconomy.

The money will also go toward the expansion of the division working to bring the company’s metal 3D printing technology to market. NVBots says these machines will be able to print with any type of metal, including incorporating multiple metals into the same part. One of the interesting aspects of what NVBots is developing is the printers will use ordinary wires as the base materials, rather than the powders used by many existing printers. That should lower the cost of materials significantly, NVBots says.

The company said it has been developing the metal-making printer for about a year. Company officials declined to share the timeline for beginning to sell the product.

NVBots is part of a crowded sector that has seen its share of ups and downs over the past few years. Other notable 3D printing companies include Desktop Metal, Formlabs, Rize, Voxel8, Mcor Technologies, and Shapeways.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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