Vulkam raises €34 million for its production plant

Seven years after its creation, Vulkam has just completed a second record-breaking round of fund-raising to the tune of €34 million, which the start-up developed by SIMaP will use to finance the construction and commissioning of its production plant in Le Versoud (Isère, France), starting in 2025.
Created in 2017 to capitalise on 30 years of research at SIMaP,* Vulkam has set itself the ambitious goal of revolutionising metallurgy by developing amorphous metals. The start-up has patented several metal alloys with a modified atomic structure. Whereas the atoms in a conventional (crystalline) metal alloy are organised in an orderly fashion, in amorphous metals – also known as “metallic glass” – they are randomly structured. This disorganised structure provides unrivalled levels of hardness and abrasion resistance, comparable to ceramics but without their brittleness.

Exploitable benefits for industry
Sébastien Gravier Amorphous metal alloys have three times the strength of conventional metals and double the flexibility, but are lighter. These qualities enable them to meet the challenges facing manufacturers and open up new possibilities for their small parts. “We're focusing on miniaturisation, which is more cost-effective", states Sébastien Gravier, founder and CEO of Vulkam. “Our products can be used to miniaturise medical devices or extend the life of mechanical systems. We are already targeting the watchmaking, medical and aerospace industries, which require high-volume, high-value-added metal parts  But over the next five years, we hope to innovate with new material compositions for other market segments, such as transport, sports and leisure.”
In addition, the thermomoulding production processes developed and patented by Vulkam drastically reduce the quantities of raw materials required. This technique, which is similar to plastic injection moulding or die casting, enables the direct manufacture of parts at micrometric levels of precision, without any additional machining operations and therefore waste. “The resulting savings in raw materials and CO2 emissions are estimated at least 50% and 30% respectively, compared to the conventional equivalent.” The €34 million raised from investors, banks, government grants and subsidies will be used to finance the construction of a 3,000 m2 plant in Isère and the commissioning of a production line by 2025. Vulkam will maintain an experimental space at SIMaP, with which it will create a joint laboratory. The company currently employs 30 people (70% of whom are engineers, doctors and technicians), and is set to increase its staff to 50 over the next three years.

*CNRS, UGA, Grenoble INP - UGA