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GrayMatter Robotics Raises $4.1 Million Seed Round

GrayMatter Robotics, creator of smart robotic assistants that help humans more safely and effectively do surface treatment tasks such as sanding and spraying on manufacturing lines, announced that it has raised a $4.1 million Seed round. Stage Venture Partners and Calibrate Ventures co-led the round, with participation from 3M Ventures, OCA Ventures, Pathbreaker Ventures, and B Capital Group.

GrayMatter Robotics was founded by roboticists and manufacturing experts in 2020. The company will use the funds to scale up hiring, accelerate development of next-generation products, and engage with a wider customer base.

GrayMatter has developed proprietary AI algorithms that enable industrial robots to program themselves. GrayMatter packages its software with commercially available robots, sensors, and tools to deliver smart robotic assistants to manufacturers for use in surface-finishing applications. GrayMatter-powered robots are intelligent and can learn to work on a new part they have never encountered before in a matter of minutes. The company’s turnkey robotic solutions help manufacturers grow capacity, maintain consistent quality, and keep a digital trace for improving operations.

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“It is shocking that millions of people still manually work on extremely tedious tasks that can be harmful to their health; younger generations do not want such jobs,” said Ariyan Kabir, co-founder and CEO of GrayMatter Robotics. “We want to improve shop workers’ lives, enhance their productivity, and enable them to focus on higher-value tasks. Manufacturing drives our economy, and without automating surface finishing and treatment, there is a significant risk the global economy may suffer due to an increasing labor shortage.”

Surface finishing and treatment in the manufacturing sector includes such applications as sanding, polishing, deburring, and spraying. In the US, more than 1.5 million workers now perform these tedious and ergonomically challenging tasks by hand, finishing all manner of parts and products in many shapes and sizes. More than 10,000 baby boomers are retiring everyday and it is increasingly difficult for manufacturers to find skilled workers for such applications. Manual surface treatment puts workers at risk due to repetitive movements and often leads to injuries. GrayMatter is building smart robotic assistants for surface-finishing applications that can be used by shop-floor operators with no training in robotics.

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“Finding and retaining employees willing to do sanding has always been challenging and in the current labor shortage it has prevented us from growing,” said Francis Hu, president of Performance Composites, a GrayMatter customer. “GrayMatter’s Scan&Sand automation solution has allowed us to free up current sanding employees to work on higher-value tasks and provides a good return on investment.”

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“We’re seeing a tremendous acceleration in customer demand towards robotics and automation solutions, helping to improve safety, productivity, quality, and cost savings,” said Debarati Sen, President, 3M Abrasive Systems Division. “Investment in GrayMatter supports 3M’s efforts to drive growth of higher-value-add digital and automated abrasives solutions to support end customers in industrial, aerospace, automotive, and renewable energy segments with high part mix or high part variability.”

“Across America, purchase orders are going unfilled because manufacturing companies lack the labor supply necessary to fulfill demand. GrayMatter’s robots replace some of the dullest, dirtiest, and most dangerous work previously done by humans, allowing high quality products to continue being made in the US,” said Alex Rubalcava, managing partner of Stage Venture Partners.

“Customers who adopt GrayMatter’s robotic technology not only reduce labor costs, they can fulfill orders faster while carrying less work-in-progress inventory,” said Kevin Dunlap, managing partner of Calibrate Ventures. “They will eliminate operational bottlenecks, generating more revenue from the same fixed cost base. And they will compete for, and win, business returning to North America that has been outsourced in prior decades.”

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