Matt Woods founded X Material Processing in 2015 while still a mechanical engineering student at Penn State. His interest in business began when he met Joe Sinclair, his earliest business partner. They began working together as interns at the CIMP-3D Lab. Joe’s company, Solid Dynamics, LLC, had experience using 3D printing to satisfy the needs of its customers. “At that point I would help Joe out with his business, and we would exchange ideas for future ventures, building a metal printer being one of them.”
He knew he would need money in order to pursue his business fulltime after college. One of his engineering instructors told him about the Inc.U business pitch competition. The Penn State Small Business Development Center provided consulting to him and helped develop his business model and pitch. X Material Processing was one of six teams selected to pitch their business in the “Shark Tank”–style competition, and made it to the semifinals winning $2,000. He applied again in the spring competition and won an additional $5,000.
By the time he graduated in December 2015, his company was an LLC with help from the Penn State SBDC and the Penn State Entrepreneurial Assistance Clinic. He moved into the space that his partner’s company had in Innovation Park to work on his prototype. The printer, purchased for $53 from the University, was gathering dust; Woods said it was an approximately 15-year-old anachronism in need of a revamp. In six months, he and his team retrofitted the chassis with new motors and electronics. The enclosure that houses the laser and the space for the metal powder, which becomes the printed part, was designed from scratch. Woods estimates it took less than $10,000 to rebuild the printer. Some can cost more than $1 million. In April, XMP was one of two competitors awarded $7,000 as part of the school’s IST start-up week.
He then decided to apply to the Ben Franklin TechCelerator Spring 2016 cohort and was accepted. During the 10-week program, he worked with the TechCelerator and Penn State SBDC to develop his business idea into an operating venture. He received $1,000 for participating in the program. When asked about the company’s future plans, Matt responded, “We will continue to develop our printing capability and when we begin producing useful parts, we will start to advertise our service.
Once our printers are refined enough as a product, we will sell them to our customers who are interested in 3D metal printing.”