Last year we learned about a company by the name of Divergent 3D that had partnered with French automaker PSA Group to introduce 3-D-printed metal components in mass-produced cars. Now a rival firm in this space, Desktop Metal, has been linked with another automaker, this time BMW.

BMW’s i Ventures investment fund, along with a number of other major companies including Google, has invested in Desktop Metal. The company, based in Burlington, Massachusetts, is a startup that has developed a complete end-to-end printing system capable of producing complex metal parts at scale, from prototyping to mass production.

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One of the main benefits is smaller, more streamlined manufacturing. This is due to the ability of 3-D printing to provide in a single process complex parts which normally require multiple elements produced separately and then configured. There are also gains to be had in the speed, cost and quality of the parts.

“Just as plastic has redefined rapid prototyping, metal 3D printing will make a profound impact on the way companies manufacture rapid prototypes and mass produce parts across all major industries,” Desktop Metal CEO and co-founder Ric Fulop said in a statement. 

Desktop Metal is hopeful of having its 3-D printing system commercially available in 2017.