Rapid 3D printing startup Azul 3D has closed on a Series A funding of $15 million, led by DuPont Co., one of the Skokie, Ill.-based company's first and largest customers
Azul 3D's High Area Rapid Printing, or HARP, technology was born out of Chicago's Northwestern University nanotech labs of Chad Mirkin, director of the school's International Institute for Nanotechnology. Mirkin is chairman of the Azul 3D board.
DuPont has worked with Azul 3D since 2019, focusing on applications that take advantage of Azul 3D's "very scalable, high through-put capabilities," said Azul 3D CEO John Hartner, who took over the role in June.
"We are very excited about the potential of this technology to create new business opportunities with DuPont," Randal King, vice president of technology at DuPont electronics and industrial, said in a statement. "Our investment underscores our strong belief that Azul 3D and its HARP technology can truly create a new paradigm in manufacturing."
"Azul 3D has become very focused on high-value, high-volume applications where we believe our 3D printing technology can be a game-changer," Hartner said in the statement.
The company pivoted its approach to the market to be very focused on specific customers and applications of its 3D printing process, vs. trying to be everything to everyone, Hartner said in an interview.
The DuPont investment validates that application-specific focus, helping to vet the startup's HARP technology over more than three years of developing printing products in the semiconductor industry, Hartner said.
In addition to the semiconductor realm, Hartner said he sees growth opportunities in making Class 1 and Class 2 personalized medical devices. As an example of growth potential, Hartner pointed to the orthodontic-disrupting plastic teeth aligners, such as Invisalign, which are 3D printed.
Hartner is the former CEO of 3D printing company ExOne and has led technology companies in the automation, electronics, clean technology and digital printing industries for 30 years around the world, the Azul 3D statement said.
Before occupying the C-suite, Hartner said he had been an early investor and member of the company's board of directors since 2020.
Azul 3D also added new board member, G. Walter "Wally" Loewenbaum, former chairman of 3D Systems and founder of Rocky Point Ventures, the statement said.
"This is the most excited I have been about photopolymer 3D printing in a long time," Loewenbaum said in the statement. "With this technology, we have the potential to capture high-value markets and enable innovative new products."