Chinese 3D printing start-up Polly Polymer obtains new funding
BEIJING – Polly Polymer, a Chinese stereolithography or SLA 3D printing start-up, has raised nearly 100 million yuan ($ 15.5 million) in a Series A + funding round from ‘a group of investors led by Vitalbridge.
Polly Polymer offers a variety of high-speed SLA 3D printing related services that target corporate customers, including materials and equipment research and development, as well as software development.
The company’s smart factory, currently under construction in China’s Anhui Province, will be a “dark factory,” meaning it won’t require lighting. By controlling the production flow through cloud computing, the factory will be completely unmanned.
The high speeds will be another key feature of the plant. In the case of shoe production, for example, it will be possible to 3D print the soles of more than 10,000 pairs of shoes per day. By replicating a production line, it will also be possible to rapidly increase the manufacturing capacity.
When a big brand makes a new pair of shoes, typically up to 40 sizes are needed – 22 sizes for kids, eight for adult women, and 10 for adult men.
If this is a new pair of athletic shoes, usually four different foot widths are needed for each adult shoe size. That is why in total more than 90 types of metal molds, including those for children’s shoes, sometimes need to be produced.
In such cases, the preparation of all metal molds may take more than 30 days. Including preparations such as making a trial product, it usually takes 2 months to start making a new pair of shoes.
Polly Polymer says its smart factory will make this preparatory work a snap just by being in sync with data in the cloud.
The company’s high-speed SLA 3D printing technology can also be applied to other everyday goods and industrial products in industries such as medicine and aerospace.
Although 3D printing has a history of over 30 years, its market has yet to grow exponentially due to three major constraints: material performance, print speed, and cost.
Polly Polymer started from basic materials R&D and jointly established China’s first 3D printing materials laboratory with a research institute affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The company then carried out R&D activities and selected new printing materials, taking into account factors such as speed, performance and cost.
In addition, using the characteristics of the selected materials, the company has developed the 3D printing technology Hindered Asynchronous Light Synthesis, or HAS, which allows printing at a speed said to be 100 times faster than conventional 3D printers.
In the case of shoe production, it became possible to print a shoe sole in about 20 minutes, and the cost of 3D printing became almost equal to the cost of injection molding using metal molds in the case of small-scale production.
McKinsey & Company, a US-based global management consulting firm, predicts the 3D printing market size to reach up to $ 550 billion by 2025.
3D Systems and Formlabs, based in the United States, are well-known players in the 3D SLA printing market. In China, competition between UnionTech and LuxCreo is attracting attention.
Founded in 2017, Polly Polymer sales have exceeded 10 million yuan and have already reached profitability.
36Kr, a Chinese technology information portal founded in Beijing in 2010, has more than 150 million readers worldwide. Nikkei announced a partnership with 36Kr on May 22, 2019.
For the Japanese version of this story, click here.
For the Chinese version, click here.