Venture investments in new manufacturing technologies could reshape American industry

Posted by Jacqui Adams on

Taken from TechCrunch


A wave of venture investment into new manufacturing startups looks set to transform American manufacturing.

While the foundations for these companies may have been laid in cities like Boston, New York and San Francisco, the startups that are driving this next industrial revolution hail from more unlikely hubs of technology innovation in the smaller urban centers of the Sun Belt and the Southeast.

These include cities like Lexington, Ky., in states whose economies were ravaged by the 2008 financial crisis and see redemption in the entrepreneurial energy of startup businesses.

New industrial processes, such as on-demand machining and additive three-dimensionalprintingmay have a tremendous effect on the U.S. economy. Roughly 33 percent of the economy is fueled by manufacturing and it’s one of the arenas that has been most resistant to incursions from the technology world. Now, all of that is changing for several well-documented reasons.

The cost of hardware and infrastructure to support the application of technology in manufacturing has come down dramatically even as organizations are looking to improve efficiency by collecting more data on their processes and determining where there are costs to be saved.

Supplying that information and those services are businesses like MakeTime, a Lexington-based startup that recently raised $8 million in new financing led by the Colorado investment firm, Foundry Group.

Founded by chief executive Drura Parrish, an architect turned manufacturing entrepreneur, MakeTime is an online capacity utilization marketplace for machining. The company provides a way for computerized machining companies to offer their manufacturing services for customized parts during times when those machines would typically sit idle.

By distributing those orders across a number of different manufacturers during their down-times, MakeTime potentially provides a way for companies to do larger production runs at lower prices.

Parrish cites his company’s emphasis on using data to provide better pricing information and deeper insights into the true costs of manufacturing as one of the keys to MakeTime’s success.

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