Voodoo Manufacturing has recently received $5,000,000 in funding from General Catalyst, the Y Combinator Continuity Fund, and other investors. Voodoo is a company that wants to bring the same autonomy found in self-driving cars away from the roads and into the factory. The idea is to staff these facilities almost entirely by robots who can then make 3D prints of nearly anything imaginable.
To start a print, a customer only needs to upload a design file to the Voodoo site. From that point, the company will then manufacture the item in batches from as little as one all the way up to 10,000. As of today, the company runs 160 different 3D printers, instead of the traditional injection molding machines in a less modern factory.
Voodoo has begun to develop robots that will be able to run these printers with very little human input. These robots, assembled from sensors, grippers, arms, and other components, can remove a plate from a printer, insert a new plate, and then restart the printer to begin a new job.
CEO and Co-founder, Max Friefeld, explains “At a high level, our goal is to automate the machine-tending portion of our factory, and get to 80 percent utilization of all the hardware here. With a really lean team, we could operate around the clock, with maybe one person working the night shift.”
Clients of Voodoo
Voodoo has clients all over the map, including Microsoft, Autodesk, Mattel, Lowes, Intel, and Viacom. While Voodoo only offers two types of plastic, one flexible and one less so, they can make many kinds of items and parts which are used in electronics and other goods.
Friefeld says, “At Voodoo, we minimize the cost and lead-time for mass production and customization, making it possible for consumers to have a completed customized product overnight. Compared to traditional manufacturing, 3D printing increases design freedom and serves as a low-cost alternative to traditional manufacturing.”
Spencer Lazar, a partner at General Catalyst, said he expects the funding money to be used to convert its Brooklyn factory into one that is mainly run by robots. The factory currently has one cluster of printers that are led by robots, rather than humans.
Friefeld has announced intentions for the next six months, including expanding marketing and promotional products, automating more labor in the factory, and expanding operations to double in size, while adding many key positions.
“Right now we are focused on integrating more robotics, reducing factory costs and expanding our team,” explains Friefeld.
As for the far-off future, Friefeld has a few ideas there, as well. “Beyond 3D printing specifically, we believe in a digital future for manufacturing where lead times are short, iteration cycles are fast, products can be customized, and runs can start small and scale instantly. Our goal at Voodoo is to always stay focused on those core goals so we achieve that future.”