Inkbit, the Massachusetts-based original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of multi-material, AI-integrated 3D printers, has closed a $19 million financing round. Ingersoll Rand, a US giant in the industrial equipment sector, led the round, alongside a range of venture funds and companies.

Inkbit has added two new board members thanks to the investment: Jason Weber, the VP of Engineering, Compressor Systems and Services at Ingersoll, and Henry Ford III, director at Ford Motor Company and a Ford Foundation trustee. Inkbit’s Vision-Controlled Jetting (VCJ) technology, designed to enable manufacturers to move from prototyping to production using a single ecosystem, would seem to be an ideal fit for a company like Ingersoll, which serves such a large number of different industries requiring just about every conceivable category of equipment and parts commonly found on factory floors.

In a press release about Inkbit’s $19 million financing round led by Ingersoll Rand, Davide Marini, CEO and co-founder of Inkbit, said, “This new partnership with Ingersoll Rand marks a key milestone in the history of our company. We are evolving from an equipment provider to partnering with new manufacturers to develop new materials and processes to enable the acceleration and simplification of product innovation. For me personally, and for our team at Inkbit, being able to learn from and be inspired by some of the most iconic names in the history of American manufacturing is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Henry Ford III said, “A century ago, my great great-grandfather developed the moving assembly line — a production method that revolutionized the automotive industry and manufacturing in general. I am delighted to join Inkbit and contribute to reinventing the assembly line for the factories of the future.”

Strategically, I think that the VCJ ecosystem’s potential to bolster an organization’s robotics capabilities is what makes the partnership between Ingersoll and Inkbit such a logical move. As Marini, the company’s CEO, explained to me in an interview published last November, there is a threefold explanation for the compatibility between the company’s Vista printer and applications for the robotics industry.

First off, Inkbit’s materials portfolio makes the Vista optimal for producing components indispensable to the robotics industry, such as grippers. Additionally, 3D printing in general, Marini told me, is a good fit for robotics because the level of throughput 3D printers are currently capable of lines up well with the output levels typical for robotics equipment. Finally, given how cutting-edge the Vista system is, in its direct integration with and reliance on machine learning, it helps to be able to partner with professionals in similarly innovative fields, like robotics.

Thus, Ingersoll has plenty it can use the Vista for in terms of developing the products it sells, but the partnership may prove most fruitful, especially initially, in terms of producing parts for and fixing the robotics equipment the company uses in its own production lines. In this sense, Inkbit may be cultivating one of the most versatile AM ecosystems on the market.

Images courtesy of Inkbit