Lockheed invests in startup that envisions micro factories, mass customization, robotics

By Jason Sherman  / November 15, 2023

Lockheed Martin today announced an undisclosed investment in Launchpad.build -- a start-up that aims to collapse the traditional prototype and testing cycle by using a set of artificial intelligence driven technologies to convert an idea directly to final physical product, upending the manufacturing paradigm.

Launchpad, based in Irwindale, CA, today announced it closed a “strategic funding round” with Lockheed Martin’s capital venture arm, which didn’t detail a sum but typically invests between $2 million and $5 million in companies it believes provide new and interesting capabilities in the supply chain.

“We want to stabilize our national security industrial base with an anti-fragility approach,” Chris Moran, Lockheed Martin Ventures vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “Launchpad’s vision in developing groundbreaking automated, yet highly variable and scalable, solutions aligns with our vision of agile and responsive manufacturing.”

Launchpad is developing a suite of assembly planning software and autonomous assembly systems that it believes can be deployed to provide an alternative approach to production that offers mass customization, micro factories and software-defined robotics.

“Typical assembly methods require a high labor component or expensive, rigid automation infrastructure that requires high-rate, repeatable production to justify financially,” according to a company statement. “Launchpad.build offers a ‘one-manufacturing-line-for-all’ future with low-cost, small-batch systems that are assembled on demand.”

Launchpad is led by Yoav Zingher, who previously founded a smart-grid energy company; Bill Gross, founder of Idealab; and Ofer Ricklis, previously vice president at flex, a global contract manufacturer.