Lockheed Martin, alongside Autodesk and British Patient Capital, has joined Series B round funding for CloudNC, a UK company developing advanced software that enables factories to autonomously manufacture precision parts.
The $45m round was led by Autodesk, with returning investors Atomico and Episode 1 Ventures also taking part.
The company will use the additional capital to further develop its software as a service (SaaS) offering and roll out at-scale through integrations with CAD/CAM packages such as Autodesk’s platforms, and to expand its manufacturing capability in Essex, UK.
CloudNC’s technology already provides a significant degree of autonomy. A user can upload a 3D model of any part and, with one click, the software autonomously determines the tools needed, how they will be used and drafts the code to tell a CNC machine how to make it.
This software assistance allows factories to be more efficient while upskilling the workforce, since more junior employees are able to operate the machines.
Ultimately, by reducing reliance on manual machine programming, CloudNC’s advanced software will enable factories to autonomously manufacture more parts, more reliably, faster and with less waste than current processes. It will help level manufacturing costs from region to region, enabling producers to build increasingly local and resilient supply chains.
“When people think of manufacturing, they tend to think of robotic car factories, and don’t realise that the industry is dominated by craft processes reliant on dwindling expert knowledge. This makes it incredibly complex to get things made, stifling the pace of innovation,” said Theo Saville, CEO and co-founder of CloudNC. “Our solution radically simplifies and democratises precision manufacturing. The upcoming software release is a massive step in our journey to full manufacturing autonomy and solving a $200bn problem. Our vision is for manufacturing to become so simple, it's invisible - a single click to make nearly any product in days, not months or years, and with no worries about reliability or quality.”
Stephen Hooper, vice president of Design & Manufacturing, Cloud Solutions at Autodesk, commented: “Our customers are facing constant challenges: disrupted supply chains, skills and labour shortages and having to control costs in a high inflation environment. CloudNC’s bold vision is impressive and their solution will soon allow anyone, from hobbyists to high-tech aerospace companies, to order and have parts delivered to them anywhere in the world with the click of a button.”
“CloudNC’s vision of end-to-end autonomous manufacturing creates great value to large-scale manufacturing businesses like ours,” said Chris Moran, executive director and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures.