In the midst of the pandemic, Pantheon design, a maker of industrial 3D printers from Vancouver, BC, suddenly received orders from factories in the Midwest, the center of heavy industry. The reason? These manufacturers struggled to get parts from China as COVID-19 restrictions in the country put pressure on global supply chains.
One of Pantheon Design’s e-mobility customers waited 18 months for its injection molds, used to manufacture parts, to arrive from China. If your order of electric vehicles or home appliances is taking longer to arrive, chances are port closures and lockdowns at the world’s factory are confusing your supplier’s production timeline.
For a long time, 3D printers were too expensive, slow and short-lived to be economically viable for manufacturers, notes Bob Cao, co-founder and CEO of Pantheon Design, speaking to londonbusinessblog.com as one of the Disrupt Startup Battlefield 200 companies. . Many of the 3D printing startups securing big VC checks are run by smart people who’ve never been to a real factory, which is hot and smelly, the entrepreneur says. “So their machines break down all the time.”
“They make the product for prototyping, but they try to sell the idea for production,” he adds.
Cao’s founder story follows a familiar pattern seen among engineers: Five years ago, he and his co-founders bought some 3D printers to build products for industrial customers, but the third-party devices didn’t live up to their expectations, so they started out. to build their own.
The result is the HS3 3D printer, a slim-looking cube measuring 300mm on each side and weighing 46.7 kilograms, with black anodized aluminum treated to achieve a durable finish. The device is capable of printing carbon fiber parts as tough as metal and 5-10 times faster than other options on the market thanks to the startup’s proprietary methods, Cao said. Moreover, it can do so at a competitive cost even compared to Chinese suppliers.
The startup has sold 40 HS3 units — all assembled in-house in Vancouver with parts manufactured in Canada — since the machine began shipping nine months ago. Each printer costs $15,000, but the majority of the company’s revenue comes from filament sales. Also referred to as the “ink” for 3D printers, filaments range from $50-150 per kilo, yielding a nice 90% profit margin, and most of the company’s customers spend about $500-800 per month on it.
Pantheon Design has raised $800,000 in funding from a mix of investors in Canada and the US, including Boston-based accelerator Techstars. The company is also backed by revenue generated from its past business of printing products and prototypes for customers, and two of its proudest moments have been printing complete concept bikes for Honda and all the sci-fi props in the Netflix series. movie The Adam Project.