After TOYOTA adopted its high-speed metal AM technology, Japanese startup SUN METALON has raised $2 million in additional pre-series A funding from new investors Impact Science Ventures, i-nest capital, Scrum Ventures, and existing investor D4V (Design for Ventures). This brings the total amount raised since inception to approximately 1.3 billion yen (US$9.7M).
Also, as part of efforts to strengthen the foundation for global expansion, Dr. Adrian Keppler, former CEO of EOS, a leading metal 3D printer company, will become an outside director of the company on March 1, 2023, and Mark Cook, former VP of 3D systems, also an important metal 3D printer company, will become VP of Product and Business Affairs on March 1, 2023.
Since its establishment in February 2021, SUN METALON been striving to democratize and popularize metal 3D parts based on its proprietary ultra-high-speed metal 3D printing technology. The company has not made a lot of information public about the exact nature of its 3D printing technology other than saying it is “[up to] 500 times faster than conventional technologies”.
We have learned that it is a “non-binder-based sinter technology”. It is also a powder-based process which could mean it is a water-based jetting process (such as, for example, XJet’s nanoparticle jetting or another powder bed jetting process that uses water as the binding agent). Other sinter-based processes that use only a limited quantity of binder include complex paste-based printing technologies such as Tritone’s. We also know that the scrap powder used in the AM process is highly recyclable on-site and transformed, safely and efficiently, into reusable resources.
In the future, the company says it will continue to strive to develop capabilities for metal parts to be produced anytime, anywhere using local resources with SUNMETALON’s 3D printing technology. In the meantime, though, it has received an important endorsement from Toyota Motor Corporation. The two companies collaborated to develop a new method for aluminum recycling that will reduce CO2 emissions.
“We are proud to have been able to work with TOYOTA, which has demonstrated global leadership and is making advanced efforts to protect the global environment, to develop a process that has outstanding potential,” said Kazuhiko Nishioka, Co-Founder & CEO, SUN METALON Inc. “I am very happy and grateful to have worked side by side with TOYOTA right from the founding of the company and to have reached this joint announcement. We will apply this technology to mass production as soon as possible.”
Verification experiments have confirmed the new process contributes to reduce CO2 emissions and improve safety and quality compared to conventional aluminum recycling processes. TOYOTA has already purchased equipment manufactured by SUN METALON and has begun verification testing of the new process. The results were jointly presented at the Japan Foundry Engineering Society conference in May 2023.
SUN METALON and TOYOTA will work jointly to develop the technology to be ready for mass production including the improvement of grade stability and equipment durability. In order to implement this technology in society and to accelerate development, both companies are looking for partners who share the same vision and will work together to promote future development. With that vision in mind, the two companies intend to build an even stronger development system that will help interested companies collaborate in this effort.
SUN METALON will provide the fundamental technology and Toyota will provide the applied technology. The two companies have discovered various potential applications (environmental impact reduction, supply chain efficiency improvement, etc.) for local production of metal parts using SUN METALON’s core metal forming technology and will continue to deepen their collaboration to expand applications within TOYOTA.