You may be surprised to find out that the 3D printing industry has been around for over 30 years. It’s something Elissa Ross, the CEO and a co-founder of Metafold, explained to ventureLAB when talking about her industry-changing B2B SaaS 3D printing company and its patent-pending lattice technology and software, Lightcycle.
“[The industry] has moved away from its history as a fast way to prototype products and has become a first-choice manufacturing methodology for end-use parts,” the mathematician says. She adds engineers have started to turn to additive manufacturing because it can produce parts with shapes that aren’t possible to create using traditional manufacturing methods (such as injection molding).
Metafold was formed after she and some talented consulting colleagues realized engineers would benefit from a program that could help with this process and reduce the amount of printing material required to create products in industries from aerospace to medical and even automotive.
Today, Lightcycle allows its users to mathematically engineer materials for projects, reducing waste by 85 percent. It makes it possible to, for example, use lattice geometry to remove a substantial amount of material from a bracket for aerospace or automotive applications while still maintaining the required strength. It’s also possible to design carbon capture devices that maximize the amount of air in contact with a CO2 absorbing material -- through an intricate pore-like structure that is hard to design in traditional engineering software.
The technology opens the door to the production of new types of geometries that were previously unimaginable.
“We make it super easy to work with really complicated geometries,” Elissa says, adding that businesses using Lightcycle can expect an easy-to-use program that integrates well with their existing infrastructure. There’s even a power user setting for those that use the technology regularly, which uses an API to automate common workflows or do high volume geometry queries.
Furthermore, because Lightcycle is cloud software, the program makes it easier than ever for engineers to share digital geometry, something other 3D softwares can’t compete with. “With Lightcycle, users are able to create shareable links for viewing geometry, which is a great way to get all stakeholders aligned on the status of a complex manufacturing process,” she notes.
To help accelerate the company’s growth, Elissa sought the support of ventureLAB, first through the Capital Investment Program and later as part of the 2022-23 Tech Undivided cohort.
“I was looking to better understand the fundraising process. Being a technical founder means that I’ve needed to really look for support outside of our core team to develop our business model and strategy. ventureLAB was a resource I drew on in our journey,” she says. "It's been great to connect with other women founders [as part of the Tech Undivided Program] building similar businesses. It's not easy being a founder! I'm always inspired and refreshed by my interactions with the cohort."
Today, she says she’s learned that bringing a product to market is hard, but that being surrounded by a great team helps.
“I credit my co-founders and our extended team for being amazing people to work with and for staying the course of a somewhat turbulent path,” she says, adding the support of advisors and investors, like those at ventureLAB, has also helped. “Overall, it’s been a fun learning experience with lots of challenges but also big milestones to celebrate along the way.”
ventureLAB’s Capital Investment Program is tailor-made for companies who are ready to pursue angel or seed-stage rounds of investment. ventureLAB guides participants through an intensive program focusing on elevating pitches, connecting with aligned investors, and developing long-term capital strategies. To become a part of the program, join ventureLAB today.
ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided initiative is creating an inclusive tech ecosystem that increases representation by removing barriers and reducing unconscious bias to give women founders an equitable opportunity to raise capital and generate revenue. Funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, Tech Undivided leverages a merit-based, gender-balanced Strategic Mentor Network of entrepreneurs and business experts and a growing network of industry partners, enabling women founders to grow and scale locally, and compete globally.
ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.