Originally posted on 3dprintingindustry.com, on December 2 2022, by Paul Hanaphy.

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Industrial 3D printer manufacturer Desktop Metal has gained another $9 million order from an unnamed automotive customer. 

While Desktop Metal hasn’t identified its client, it has described them as a “major German automaker” that mass manufactures powertrain components. In practice, the customer’s new binder jet system, the second it has ordered in 12 months, will be deployed to support the production of digitally-cast automotive parts.

“Our team is working with a significant number of global automotive OEMs to expand adoption of our differentiated AM technologies for end-use car components, and this most recent order further demonstrates our customer’s success changing the way they make products and supports Team DM’s vision for Additive Manufacturing 2.0,” explained Ric Fulop, Founder and CEO of Desktop Metal.

The Desktop Metal Shop System. Photo via Desktop Metal.

“The Additive Manufacturing industry continues to grow for mass production applications, with the most innovative companies in the world leading the way.”

Desktop Metal’s 3D printing portfolio 

Massachusetts-based Desktop Metal began by developing a range of binder jet systems, but it has drastically expanded its portfolio in recent years. At present, its in-house developed product lineup includes the Fiber, X-Series, Shop System, Studio System and Production System, a set of 3D printers the firm markets alongside a range of proprietary materials and software. 

Desktop Metal went public on the NYSE in 2021, via a SPAC merger that valued the company at $575 million, and raised a huge amount of capital to fund its future growth. Using this cash, the company has built out its offering via the acquisitions of EnvisionTEC, Aidro, Adaptive3D and one of its biggest binder jet competitors, ExOne. 

Desktop Metal has also launched new machines under its Forust brand. While the company launched its wood 3D printing service in May last year, enabling customers to order bespoke pieces of architecture binder jetted from a bio-epoxy resin composite, it has more recently introduced a turnkey Forust Shop System customers can buy, install and use in-house.  

A render of Desktop Metal’s Shop System Forust Edition. Image via Desktop Metal.
A slide from Desktop Metal’s Q3 2022 earnings presentation. Image via Desktop Metal.

A newly-bolstered order backlog

Desktop Metal’s $9 million order reflects a growing interest in its technologies within automotive, and a number other manufacturers have adopted them in recent years. In fact, during the firm’s last earnings presentation, it boasted of having high-profile automotive clients like BMW, General Motors, Tesla, Toyota, Renault, Nissan and Ford.  

However, the order also comes at a difficult time for the company. Desktop Metal laid off 12% of its staff earlier this year, citing “customers delaying purchases” amid an “uncertain macroeconomic backdrop.”

“The challenging macroeconomic environment created great headwinds for our business,” Fulop said after Q3. “We exited the first half of the year tracking towards our financial targets, with a robust pipeline of healthy customer momentum. As the third quarter progressed, in some cases, orders we expected to close were delayed. We believe this is a result of customers pausing on CapEx spend as they become cautious about the macro landscape.”

That said, Desktop Metal’s latest order does add to its backlog, and takes its total revenue gained from this ‘major German automaker’ to $16.9 million. Elsewhere in its portfolio, the company has also launched the Figur G15, a machine Fulop identified on its Q3 earnings call as an “accessible, flexible and cost-effective” automotive and aerospace production tool, “even at low and medium volumes.”

As a result, Desktop Metal’s automotive demand should continue to grow in the quarters ahead, and there was a substantial amount of interest around the Figur G15 at the IMTS trade show. One issue that might prevent the firm capitalizing on this demand, is the competitive nature of the automotive 3D printing market. Within binder jetting, the likes of voxeljet also markets its machines as a way of creating structural car parts such as electric motor housings and dashboard modules. 

Elsewhere, SLM Solutions’ Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) machines continue to gain traction among automakers. One of the company’s biggest recent customers has been Divergent Technologies, which uses NXG XII 600 systems to build the Czinger 21C 3D printed hypercar, a $2 million vehicle with a 0-62 mph speed of 1.9 seconds. 

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