Bright Machines plans to expand assembly software stack with $126M in funding

Bright Machines says its full-stack system integrates software and robotics to deliver high-quality products. | Source: Bright Machines

Bright Machines Inc., which claims to be a leader in “software-defined manufacturing,” last week announced that it has raised $126 million in Series C funding. This brings the San Francisco-based company’s total funding to date to $400 million.

Bright Machines said it will use the latest funding to launch product innovations, expand its software stack for increased assembly flexibility, and grow strategic relationships with ecosystem partners. 

“Adopting ecosystem-wide, software-defined manufacturing processes will ease the mounting burden from the industry’s biggest challenges, including a lack of skilled workforce; aging, rigid systems; disparate and fragmented supply chains; and an overall lack of standards across the value chain,” stated Lior Susan, executive chairman and CEO and executive chairman at Bright Machines.

Bright Machines sees opportunity for more efficient assembly

“Currently, electronics manufacturing is outdated. It’s typically done manually, with isolated, inefficient processes that drive up costs,” asserted Bright Machines. “With the proliferation of AI driving up demand for compute power and AI hardware, the industry faces a bottleneck across dozens of fragmented vendors that causes a supply chain traffic jam.”

The company was founded in 2018 by industry veterans who saw a unique opportunity to solve this bottleneck. Bright Machines said it is taking a data-focused approach to electronics manufacturing with robotics and software. It said its “full-stack” system provides centralized data visibility, traceability, performance benchmarking, and flexible automation.

Bright Machines said it uses computer vision, machine learning, and software in its artificial intelligence backbone for automated assembly. This AI hardware infrastructure can transform how products are designed and manufactured, it said.

Digital ecosystem supports continual improvement

In Bright Machine’s digital ecosystem, valuable data is constantly generated and communicated to a central hub, creating an engine for continual optimization. Its Design from Automated Assembly (DFAA) tool relies on this data network to provide virtual design recommendations to shorten products’ time to market. 

By uniting this data network with agile robotics, modeling, and simulation, Bright Machines said it can support “microfactories” and modern factories that exceed what traditional factories can achieve. 

In addition, the company said its robots use algorithms to ensure quality control and traceability during assembly inspection. Once products reach their end of life, the company said its flexible disassembly capabilities can help harvest and recycle components, achieving full circular manufacturing.

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Bright Machines gets support from NVIDIA, Microsoft, and more

In the round, $106 million in equity was led by investment form funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. This also included participation from NVIDIA, Microsoft, Eclipse, Jabil, and Shinhan Securities. The other $20 million came in the form of venture debt from J.P. Morgan. 

“​The demand for AI is catalyzing a transformation in electronics manufacturing. Supply chains and manufacturing and assembly processes are being redesigned to drive faster product innovation and time to market,” said Matt Singer, managing director of BlackRock. “With blue-chip industry leaders solving on Bright Machine’s software-defined solutions, the team is uniquely positioned to accelerate automation within the manufacturing industry and solve a very difficult, but necessary challenge to meet the pace of innovation and deliver tangible ROI [return on investment] for businesses.”

Bright Machines said this funding round not only supports its vision, “but it also highlights the intense pressure that large cloud-compute providers are facing to scale AI infrastructure across compute, data storage, and related network capabilities to meet increasing demand.”

“By collaborating with technology leaders such as NVIDIA and Microsoft, Bright Machines can deliver flexible, integrated, and intelligent manufacturing solutions to our customers, starting with DFAA and continuing – with unprecedented visibility – through every step of the process, right through to the circularity of recycling,” Susan said.

“As optimized manufacturing systems are faster, more resilient, and more efficient than their manual counterparts, our customers are more competitive in terms of cost, their products’ time-to-market, and customer delight,” he said. “And in a world where we can now use AI and software to teach robotics systems how to build electronics, the opportunity to redefine how we will design and build electronics is unlimited.”

The company, which has more than 200 employees worldwide, recently announced an integration and go-to-market partnership with Microsoft Azure. The partners said this will enable an accessible, efficient, and data-driven manufacturing process for electronics manufacturers.

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