Ottawa's Equispheres lands $17M in new funding for high-tech metal powder

Kevin Nicholds
Kevin Nicholds is CEO of Equispheres. File photo

A Kanata company that’s developing a high-tech metal powder designed to be used in automotive and aerospace manufacturing has some more rocket fuel in its own tank thanks to a $17-million injection of fresh capital.

Equispheres, which develops an aluminum alloy powder for 3D printing and manufacturing, said Tuesday it’s receiving $17 million in new funding as part of a $30-million financing round. The new equity includes a $10-million investment from Indiana-based HG Ventures as well as $7 million from an undisclosed Canadian fund.

The latest funding adds to Equispheres’ previously announced $8-million contribution from Sustainable Development Technology Canada and $5 million from the Business Development Bank of Canada, bringing its total series-B haul to $30 million. The five-year-old Ottawa company has raised nearly $70 million in venture capital as it moves closer to bringing its unique powder to market.

Equispheres CEO Kevin Nicholds said HG Ventures, which has a strong track record of investing in material sciences ventures, grasped the product’s potential almost immediately.

“They’re very, very smart and they’re sophisticated VCs,” he said. “We’re a bit different ​– we’re kind of the next thing. Not everybody in the metal powder space was able to put together the value of the powder in the value chain, and they were able to do that very, very well.”

Esiphereres makes a unique metal powder used in additive manufacturing – essentially, 3D printing for fighter jets and sports cars rather than plastic figurines. The powder is perfectly uniform and spherical, the company says, making it the ideal substance for manufacturing lightweight but sturdy metal objects.

In addition to making products lighter and more fuel-efficient than their predecessors, Equispheres’ powder also helps speed up the additive manufacturing process and make it more economical, Nicholds said. Over the past five years, the firm has been working with several high-profile global firms to test and improve its products.

“We’ve been fortunate to have pull from premier automotive, aerospace (and) defence companies,” he said.

Nicholds said Equispheres plans to use the new capital to scale up its production capacity as well as further beef up its R&D capabilities and continue to refine the additive manufacturing process.

“We have very unique advantages and IP in those applications, so we’re accelerating how quickly we’re moving those forward,” he said, adding the 35-person company plans to add to its team of engineers and material scientists.

While measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 have hit many Canadian businesses hard, Nicholds said Equispheres’ products are still largely in the development stage, and he hopes the global economy will be in recovery mode by the time the company is ready to make a major market push.

“We’re actually pretty well set up to focus in on what we’re doing,” he said.

In October 2018, Nicholds joined Techopia Live to discuss Equisphere's R&D efforts. Watch the interview below: