Intel Capital is leading the $19.3m series A round alongside TDK Ventures, Schneider Electric’s SE Ventures and Lam Capital.
As the Economist noted in this month’s issue on potential new sources of the metal under volcanos, copper was the first metal worked by human beings.
Now, we use more than 20 million tonnes of the stuff each year and more will be required in coming decades to meet the need for widespread electrification brought about by the transition to less carbon-intensive economies.
As well as finding a more environmentally-friendly mining technique to boost production, being able to use three-dimension (3D) printing – so-called additive manufacturing – to turn the copper into parts will ease assembly and reduce complexity.
This is the expectation at least of Fabric8, a US-based company emerging from stealth after five years with a non-thermal metal 3D printing technique able to use copper without affecting its electrical properties through the use of lasers or binding agents.
Intel Capital, the corporate venturing unit of chip and data company Intel, is unsurprisingly leading the $19.3m series A round as result with a powerful consortium of peers, including TDK Ventures, Schneider Electric’s SE Ventures and Lam Capital, as new investors alongside prior backers, including deeptech-focused venture capital firm Imec.xpand, angel investor Mark Cuban and Stanley Ventures, power tools company Stanley Black & Decker’s CVC unit.
Fabric8Labs will use copper 3D printing for cooling applications in semiconductors, chip-scale fabrication, and radio-frequency/5G components.
Nicolas Sauvage, managing director of TDK Ventures, said: “Fabric8Labs not only cuts across explosive markets in electrification, thermal management, and 5G applications, but also does so in an environmentally friendly manner by recycling all the metals in the feedstock, hence helping build sustainable yet resilient supply chains, aligning with our investment mission.”
Anil Achyuta, investment director at TDK Ventures who is joining Fabric8’s board as an observer, in an interview added: “Fabric8’s process could be used on 1.2 to 1.5 billion partners per year and TDK is helping it develop its commercial product from being a proof of concept partner.”
Jeff Herman, CEO of Fabric8Labs, said: “Metal 3D printing is growing faster than any other 3D printing technique.”
“The capability to additively manufacture using multiple metals with high precision is highly compelling,” added Jennifer Ard, managing director at Intel Capital, while Faran Nouri, managing director at Lam Capital agreed that “Fabric8Labs’ approach to metal additive manufacturing has disruptive potential.”
Grant Allen, partner at SE Ventures, said: “Schneider Electric is exploring some very interesting applications of Fabric8’s electrodeposition technology around fine-featured electrical connectors and thermal management inside data centres and within our e-mobility products.”
Dina Routhier, partner at Stanley Ventures, added: “We are interested in additively manufactured engineered fasteners that hold cars, airplanes, trucks together, where the SKUs [stock keeping units] are constantly redesigned and hence needs flexible supply chains.”
These investors will be expecting Fabric8 to repeat the success of additive manufacturing peers, such as Desktop Metal and Shapeways, which have floated after mergers with special purpose acquisition companies in the past year.