Glowforge, the Seattle-based startup which makes 3D laser printers, today announced a $22 million investment round.
Previous investors Foundry Group and True Ventures participated in the Series B round, which brings total funding for the 2-year-old company to $31 million.
The Seattle startup set a crowdfunding record last year by raising nearly $28 million from thousands of backers who pre-ordered its 3D laser printer in October. The device is different from most other 3D printers — instead of making objects out of plastic strands, it uses a laser to quickly cut and engrave products. The device lets people use raw materials like leather, paper, plastic, fabric, or cardboard and make products with a push of a button.
“With this financing, we can deliver not just an amazing product to the people who’ve ordered it already, but we can scale up our American assembly line to make this available to schools, homes, and businesses around the world,” Glowforge CEO Dan Shapiro said in a statement.
Glowforge has delayed shipments of initial orders twice. The company’s original plan was to start shipping the “first units” in December, two months after the crowdfunding campaign ended. But in February, Glowforge said those shipments were delayed, telling the initial backers who pre-ordered during the 30-day campaign that they’d now receive their printers in June.
Then, this past April, Glowforge again delayed shipments due to power supply issues and pushed the delivery date back to December 2016.
“We know that more than ten thousand people are counting on us to deliver their Glowforge, and counting on us to make it amazing,” Shapiro told GeekWire in April.
Still, this isn’t worrying Foundry Group and True Ventures, who previously led a $9 million Series A round in May 2015 and are doubling down with this Series B round.
“We asked Dan if we could double down on Glowforge because we could see from their crowdfunding campaign and from the machine in our office that this was something magical and different,” Foundry Group Managing Director Brad Feld said in a statement. “Our firm has always focused on hardware that changes the way that people interact with technology. Also, I have to admit: we really love lasers.”
Feld told GeekWire in April that he wasn’t worried about Glowforge fulfilling its orders. He said he’s invested in dozens of hardware companies from Makerbot to Fitbit and has seen more projects delivered late than on time.
“They are well-funded and we have significantly more capital available for them,” he said of Glowforge in April. “As a result, they can do the right thing long term by being patient and deliberate with product development, to insure that it is perfect when it ships, rather than rush something half-baked out the door.”
Added Feld: “Given that we just had a board meeting and I saw their financial plan, production schedule, and shipping plan, I’m very comfortable with the path we are on. I’m also in contact with Dan Shapiro on a very frequent basis and he and his team are as strong, clear, transparent, and as capable as they get.”
Update: Here’s a blog post from Feld on the financing. From the post:
Dan Shapiro (the CEO) and his team is obsessed about having the highest quality possible product. While they didn’t need any additional money at this point, they were willing to let us do a financing to have major cash on the balance sheet that would allow them to weather any challenges. Given the extreme demand we had from the pre-order campaign, we are expecting this to accelerate once we start shipping, so it made sense to raise more money right now to support growth so the company could focus 100% of it’s energy on customers and product.
We proactively offered to lead a financing rather than have Dan and team run around few a few months. As part of our overall strategy, we have long described ourselves as syndication agnostic. We are happy to invest with others, but we are also happy to lead rounds ourselves in companies we’ve already invested in. At Glowforge, we already had a great partner with True Ventures and were able to agree on terms with Dan and his team that allowed us to quickly do a round.
Along with smartphone sensors built into the company’s printer, the lasers allow the Wi-Fi-connected device to cut and engrave materials that are curved, uneven, or irregular. Designs can be made in Photoshop, Illustrator, or any software that can produce a PDF or picture; you can print via the Glowforge app or a web browser.
Dual cameras on the printer also measure the thickness of material to a precision of four one thousandths of an inch. The device also has no screens and measures 37 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and eight inches tall. You can still order it for $2,395 — deliveries placed today will arrive in March 2017, Glowforge said.
At the 2015 GeekWire Summit, Shapiro showed off a book bag he made with the Glowforge that had the exact dimensions for his laptop and other personal items — all for $58 and six hours of work. You can create “almost anything” with Glowforge, he added, including jewelry, light fixtures, smartphone engravings, wallets, and toys.
“It’s like we’ve been eating fast food for years and never had kitchens, never been able to make food for ourselves the way we want it,” he said. “I like to think about this as reinventing what it means for something to be homemade — something better, faster, and cheaper than what you’ll buy in a store.”
Glowforge said today that it will launch its own line of “Proofgrade” materials and a new catalog of printable designs.
“When we first invested, it was because of the incredible hardware that the team demonstrated,” True Ventures partner Tony Conrad said in a statement. “But when they showed us the gorgeous software, the beautiful catalog, and the high-quality Proofgrade materials that would let anyone be successful right out the box, we knew we wanted to be a bigger part of the story.”
Glowforge was founded in 2014 by Shapiro, the brains behind the hit kids board game Robot Turtles — one of Kickstarter’s most successful campaigns ever — and fellow Seattle area startup veterans Tony Wright and Mark Gosselin. The company employs 33 people, up from 14 this past December, and has job openings for another 20 positions.