Better Data, Better Parts

Hey y’all!

In this week’s newsletter
- a company making it possible for manufacturers to see inside parts
- Toyota teaches robots to make pancakes
- Flir releases an automated drone docking station for combat scenarios

Heads up! This week we have a slightly different format! Let me know what you think about this more in-depth story!

Last week, I had a chat with Eduardo Torrealba, the CEO and co-founder of Lumafield. Lumafield, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, produces CT scanning machines and software that allow engineers to examine the internal state of parts.

Let’s dive into their story

Helping America compete in Manufacturing

Eduardo has a background in hardware engineering. Prior to starting Lumafield, he built and sold a soil moisture sensor startup and then served as Director of Engineering at Formlabs. Along the way, he got first-hand exposure into the manufacturing sectors in both the US and China.

He left feeling that the US was losing the manufacturing war to China and decided to take action. When talking to Eduardo, I got the sense that part of the reason he started Lumafield is out of a sense of patriotic duty.

Eduardo explained that the US is already pretty good at building the really advanced things our society needs (like aeorspace parts) but not so great at producing the essentials that makes society function (like air filters). China solves this manufacturing problem by using abundant and cheap human labor, an approach that isn’t viable in the US.

Instead, Eduardo knew the US needed to innovate to compete on the global manufacturing stage. He decided that the best place to start was by building better ways to get data on the quality of parts a manufacturer produced. So he started Lumafield.

Better data, better parts

The most common way for traditional manufacturers to inspect parts is through visual inspection. On the high-end, some of the largest manufacturers use expensive industrial CT-scanners to give their engineers manufacturing superpowers..

Engineers use CT scans to identify discrepancies between produced parts and their original CAD models, locate recurring voids in cast components, and more. Armed with this information, they can fine-tune manufacturing procedures, optimize material use, resolve production issues, and ultimately use better data to build better parts.

Unfortunately, these legacy CT scanning machines are incredibly expensive and hard to use, so they were rarely seen in manufacturing. Lumafield thought they could change this and give every manufacturer the same CT-scanning superpower that the largest high-tech manufacturers had available.

They started building the company in 2019 and came out of stealth in April 2022 with Neptune, an industrial CT scanner available starting at $75,000. An incredible deal compared to the $1mm+ price tag of traditional industrial CT scanners.

Emerging from stealth, they announced partnerships with an impressive lineup of manufacturers, including Trek Bicycles, Whoop, Desktop Metal, and more.

Only a few months post emerging from stealth they announced their $35mm Series B (bringing their total raised to $67.5mm) along with an incredible speed improvement to the Neptune scanner to handle high throughput manufacturing.

Eduardo told me one of their customers had scanned 250,000 parts in a year with a single machine.

Better software with better hardware

Part of the magic of most hard-tech startups is the marriage of incredible hardware with world-class software. While building Neptune, Lumafield also built the easiest to use software for inspecting their 3D scans, called Voyager.

This month they announced that anyone can now use Voyager for their 3D scans, regardless of if the scan originated from a Neptune machine or not. With this announcement they also unveiled Atlas, a powerful engineering co-pilot built into Voyager.

Eduardo told me that many manufacturing processes come with a staggering number of requirements, sometimes spanning thousands of pages in PDFs. Historically, companies have tackled this challenge by employing engineers who specialize in each section of these requirements.

Atlas can hold all those requirements in it’s context window so that engineers can more confidently know if their parts are adhering to standards.

With tools like Neptune, Voyager, and Atlas, Lumafield is accelerating our countries ability to build everyday items faster and to a higher quality than ever before.

It was a great time chatting with Eduardo and team. I love the idea of taking some existing expensive technology and making it cheaper and easier to use, expanding the market.

If you’re interested in Lumafield’s mission and accelerating American manufacturing, check out their hiring page.

Before you go

Here’s a few quick links to some cool things I saw in the hard startups space this week!

- A robot manning a rotating stack mold machine
- Flir unveils a sick autonomous drone docking system
- Toyota unveils their new system that can teach robotic arms to make pancakes (and other dexterous tasks) in a few demonstrations

What did you think?
Let me know what you think of this format! Just reply to this email with if you’d rather see
A) 2-3 quick pieces about hard startups and news that happened that week
B) 1 deep dive story into a hard startup + some quick links
C) something else