Amid the pandemic, Pantheon Design, a maker of industrial 3D printers in Vancouver, British Columbia, suddenly found itself receiving orders from factories in the Midwest, the center of heavy industries. The reason? These manufacturers were struggling to get parts out of China as COVID-19 restrictions in the country tightened global supply chains.
One of Pantheon Design’s e-mobility customers waited 18 months for its injection molds, which are used to produce parts, to arrive from China. If your electric vehicle or appliance order is taking longer to arrive, port closures and lockdowns in the world’s factory are likely to disrupt your supplier’s production schedule.
For a long time, 3D printers were too expensive, slow and short-lived to be economically viable for manufacturers, observes Bob Cao, co-founder and CEO of Pantheon Design, as he speaks to TechCrunch as one of the Disrupt Startups. Battlefield 200 companies. Many 3D printing startups that secure big VC checks are run by smart people who have never been in a real factory, which is hot and smelly, says the entrepreneur. “So their machines break down all the time.”
“They make the product for prototyping, but they try to sell the idea for manufacturing,” he adds.
The story of Cao’s founder follows a familiar pattern seen among engineers: five years ago, he and his co-founders purchased a group of 3D printers to create products for industrial customers, but third-party devices didn’t meet their expectations, so they set up going out to build their own.
The result is the HS3 3D printer, which is a sleek cube measuring 300mm on each side and weighing 46.7 kilograms, with black anodized aluminum, which has been treated to achieve a durable finish. The device is able to print carbon fiber parts that are as strong as metal and 5 to 10 times faster than other options on the market thanks to the startup’s patented methods, according to Cao. Moreover, it is able to 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 made in Canada — since the machine began shipping nine months ago. Each printer costs $15,000, but most of the company’s revenue comes from the sale of filaments. Also known as “ink” for 3D printers, filament costs $50-$150 a kilo, which is a nice 90% profit margin, and most of the company’s customers spend around $500-800 a month on it. .
Pantheon Design has raised $800,000 in funding from a mix of investors in Canada and the United States, including Boston-based accelerator Techstars. The company is also supported by revenue generated from its previous business of printing products and prototypes for customers, and two of its proudest moments include printing entire concept motorcycles for Honda and all the science-fitting accessories. fiction from the Netflix movie The Adam Project.