Probably not, but recent investments by Porsche show they are definitely moving in that direction. Late last week Porsche SE announced two venture investments in 3D printing companies. The single digit stake investments included the US based company Markforged Inc. as well as another 3D printing specialist yet to be named. To be clear, when Porsche says "single digit" investments they are talking percentages and the numbers still add up into the millions of Euros.
Let's Take a Look at Markforged and Why Porsche Would be Interested
Founded in 2013 and based in Watertown/Massachusetts, Markforged designs and sells end-to-end 3D print solutions. Specifically, according to what we read, they are the only industrial 3D printing platform that produces strong parts out of the entire range of materials from carbon fiber to metal. Moreover, in 2017 the company launched its first 3D metal printer for industrial applications.
Did you read that? Markforged offers the only industrial 3D printing platform capable of producing strong parts made from carbon fiber and other metals. Can you imagine a future where Porsche is producing parts as needed right on the manufacturing line? How about a dealer service center that 3D prints a needed part on the spot vs. holding inventory? If you're thinking it's something out of science fiction then you're not thinking far enough ahead.
“Start-ups are an important source of innovations. In order to advance and capitalize on such innovations we have to invest in technologies at an early stage. Both investments are perfect examples of this approach. Start-ups have the potential to massively change different segments along the automotive value chain, for example R+D and production as well as the role of a vehicle in the broader mobility ecosystem“, Philipp von Hagen, member of the executive board of Porsche SE responsible for investment management, said. Additive manufacturing is one of the highly promising technologies we have identified", von Hagen added.
Markforged is already profitable, has 1000s of clients using their services, including Porsche, and has attracted more than $57 million in investments from the likes of Microsoft, Siemens, Matrix Partners, and more. I for one think this is a brilliant investment and can't wait to see what the future holds!