Pantheon Design alleviates supply chain uncertainty with factory-grade 3D printing • TechCrunch
in the midst of a pandemic, Pantheon design, a maker of industrial 3D printers from Vancouver, British Columbia, suddenly found itself taking orders from factories in the Midwest, the center of heavy industry. the reason? These manufacturers have been struggling to get parts of China out as the country’s COVID-19 restrictions have shrunk global supply chains.
A Pantheon Design e-mobility customer waited 18 months before its injection molds, which are used in parts production, arrived from China. If your electric vehicle or your home appliance order takes longer to arrive, worldwide outlet closures and factory shutdowns will likely mess up your supplier’s production schedule.
For too long, 3D printers have been too expensive, slow, and short-lived to be economically viable for manufacturers, notes Bob Kao, co-founder and CEO of Pantheon Design, speaking to TechCrunch as one of the Disrupt Startup Battlefield 200 companies. The entrepreneur says many of the 3D printing startups that secure big capital checks are run by smart people who have never worked in a real, hot and smelly factory. “So their devices malfunction all the time.”
“They are making the product for prototyping, but they are trying to sell the idea for manufacturing,” he adds.
Cao’s founder’s story follows a familiar pattern seen among engineers: Five years ago, he and his partners bought a batch of 3D printers to build products for industrial customers, but the third-party hardware didn’t meet their expectations, so they set out to build their own.
The result is the HS3 3D printer, a sleek looking cube measuring 300mm on each side and weighing 46.7kg, featuring black anodized aluminum, treated to a durable finish. The device is capable of printing carbon-fiber parts that are as durable as metal and 5-10 times faster than other options on the market thanks to the startup’s patented methods, according to Cao. Moreover, it is able to do so at a competitive cost even in comparison with Chinese suppliers.
The startup has sold 40 units of the HS3 — all assembled in-house in Vancouver with parts manufactured in Canada — since the machine began shipping nine months ago. Each printer costs $15,000, but the bulk of the company’s revenue comes from selling filaments. Also called “ink” for 3D printers, filaments range in price from $50-$150 per kilo, yielding a 90% profit margin, and most of the company’s customers spend about $500-800 per month on it.
Pantheon Design has raised $800,000 in funding from a mix of investors in Canada and the United States, including the Boston-based Techstars accelerator. The company is also buoyed by revenue from its previous business in print and customer prototyping products, and two of the company’s proudest moments include printing full-concept motorcycles for Honda and all the science fiction props in the Netflix movie The Adam Project.