3D printer gets $48 million from UPS, Drive

Chicago’s Fast Radius is coaxing manufacturers toward a virtual just-in-time supply chain.

Fast Radius, a Chicago company that’s developing commercial-scale 3D printing for manufacturers, has raised another $48 million.

The funding, led by UPS, which backed the company when it launched four years ago, also included Drive Capital, a venture fund in Columbus, Ohio; as well as Chicago-based investors Hyde Park Venture Partners, Jump Capital and Michael Polsky’s Skydeck Capital.

Fast Radius will use the money to build out the software platform used by customers to design, produce and track on-demand parts on Fast Radius machines. The company’s goal is to put manufacturing facilities next to transportation hubs so it can provide a virtual just-in-time supply chain to customers.

Fast Radius moved to the West Loop from Atlanta two years ago and is led by former McKinsey partner Lou Rassey. It’s an ambitious effort to bring 3D printing from prototyping and small-volume production to industrial-scale manufacturing, a promise that’s gone unfulfilled for 35 years.

The company got its start in Atlanta in 2015, backed by UPS. Rassey took over in early 2017, moved Fast Radius to Chicago and raised $13 million from Drive Capital and Chicago investors Jump Capital, Hyde Park Venture Partners and Skydeck Capital.

The company plans to double its workforce of 45 people, most of whom are in Chicago, over the next year.

Fast Radius has worked with 300 customers, including a dozen Fortune 500 companies, such as Steelcase, HP and Yanfeng, an automotive supplier. Its software recently went into beta test with customers.

Husqvarna, a Swedish power equipment and tool manufacturer, is using Fast Radius to supply a range of plastic parts. “They have tens of thousands of small plastic parts in warehouses all over the world,” Rassey said.

“We’ve known for a while that (3D printing) technology had advanced to the point it rivaled legacy production methods. We’ve gotten some customer traction and have made progress on building out a production infrastructure that customers can rely on.”

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