Montreal’s AON3D is literally over the moon with its latest round of funding after securing $11.5 million USD ($14.4 million CAD) and a partnership with a private space agency.
SineWave Ventures led AON3D’s round of Series A funding with participation from AlleyCorp, Y Combinator Continuity, BDC Capital, EDC, Panache Ventures, MANA Ventures, social-media influencers Josh Richards and Griffin Johnson, and undisclosed “leading” Silicon Valley angels.
“There is no environment as demanding as the vacuum of space, and we need parts that are able to withstand the immense challenges of launch and spaceflight.”
The funding will be used to invest in 3D printing research and development, bringing in additional hires, and provide clients with support for their 3D printing needs.
Founded by a group of McGill University materials engineers in 2015, AON3D is a manufacturer of industrial-grade 3D printers. The company produces the industry’s largest selection of 3D printable materials, including the world’s strongest thermoplastics.
Along with the funding, AON3D announced that it is partnering with the American private space agency Astrobotic for its Peregrine Moon Lander [PM1) mission.
Astrobotic’s 47,000 square foot complex is the largest private facility in the world dedicated to lunar logistics. The company uses the facility to build and operate its lines of landers, rovers, autonomous spacecraft navigation systems, and other space technologies.
The Astrobotic mission is set to become the first US lunar lander to soft land on the moon since Apollo 17. Onboard, there are hundreds of 3D printed parts from the industrial AON3D M2+, which are poised to be the first 3D manufactured parts to successfully touch the moon.
The lunar hardware includes 3D printed essential bracketry components, including fixtures within integral avionics boxes, which perform all mission-critical command and data handling for the lander.
AON3D technology also created the capsules within DHL MoonBox, a light-weight vessel used to transport space-freight payloads for private citizens. The MoonBox is designed to withstand the harsh extremes of space and keep items safe on the lunar surface.
AON3D currently supplies printers for more than customers in 25 countries around the world, including Blue Origin, NASA, and the United States Air Force.
“There is no environment as demanding as the vacuum of space, and we need parts that are able to withstand the immense challenges of launch and spaceflight,” said Astrobotic mechanical engineer Clay Inman.
Inman noted that going from full-scale economical prototypes to space-ready parts using AON3D’s printed thermoplastics was a huge step in helping Astrobotic prepare for the mission.
“Now, we can rigorously test our parts, create custom tooling, and then go right into printing proprietary, mission-ready components with engineering grade materials,” Inman said.
Kevin Han, AON3D’s co-founder and CEO, said the company believes the future of 3D printing is more open source and financially accessible so that SMBs have access to the same hardware as top firms.
“That’s exactly how we modeled AON3D and constructed our AON M2+ printer. We have investors that believe in our vision, and partners like Astrobotic that place the highest trust in our hardware,” Han said.
The global 3D printing market is projected to grow from $15.26 billion USD in 2021 to $68.71 billion USD in 2028, according to a report from Fortune Business Insights.
The report noted that NASA uses 3D printed parts to build rocket engines, and satellite parts. NASA has been testing a number of 3D components in a variety of applications.
NASA is partnering with Sacramento-based Aerojet Rocketdyne, a rocket manufacturer – to advance 3D printing technologies, known as metal additive manufacturing, and its capabilities for liquid rocket engines in landers and on-orbit stages/spacecraft.
The Robotic Deposition Technology (RDT) team, led out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is designing and manufacturing innovative and lightweight combustion chambers, nozzles, and injectors that will incorporate automated robotic deposition 3D-printing technologies: cold spray deposition, laser wire direct closeout, laser powder bed fusion, and laser powder directed energy deposition.
The American space agency has also worked with a team of students from colleges and universities across the United State to test a 3D printed launch and landing pad to see how it holds up to a hot rocket engine at Camp Swift in Bastrop, Texas.
The students’ design concept – called the Lunar Plume Alleviation Device, or Lunar PAD – aims to solve problems caused by lunar dust kicked up during launches and landings.
Referring back to the AON3D announcement, SineWave Ventures general partner Vivek Ladsariya, had nothing but praise for the firm. “AON3D is on a mission to 3D print the future by creating solutions that positively affect more business while addressing the pain points in global manufacturing,” Ladsariya said.
“With their printers’ ability to use the best available materials, the sky’s the limit for AON3D—exemplified by their 3D parts going to the moon,” he added. “We look forward to watching AON3D continue to make history.”
mage source NASA via Unsplash