Desktop Metal, an emerging startup with a 'mission to bring metal 3D printing to all design and manufacturing teams', has announced a total of $97 million in equity funding since its founding in October 2015.

The announcement comes as the result of the latest 'Series C' investment of $45 million, led by GV (formerly Google Ventures), as well as BMW i Ventures and Lowe's Ventures. Desktop Metal says it will use the funding to continue to develop its technology and scale production as the company prepares for its product launch later this year.

"Advances in metal 3D printing are driving innovation across a wide range of automotive applications and we are excited to work with Desktop Metal as part of our vision in adopting additive manufacturing at BMW," said Uwe Higgen, Managing Partner of BMW i Ventures. "From rapid prototyping and printing exceptional quality parts for end-use production, to freedom of design and mass customisation, Desktop Metal is shaping the way cars will be imagined, designed and manufactured."

Desktop Metal says it is committed to accelerating the adoption of metal 3D printing in manufacturing through the creation of innovative technology that produces complex parts. They are doing this with a world-class team of experts in the fields of materials science, engineering and software, consisting of 75 engineers.

"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," said Ric Fulop, CEO and co-founder of Desktop Metal.  "We are fortunate to have the backing of a leading group of strategic investors who support both our vision and our technology, and who are pivotal in propelling our company forward as we prepare for our product introduction in 2017."

Additive or 3D printing has long been talked about as potentially ushering in a revolution in manufacturing, but applications thus far have tended to be in low volume niches and high value prototyping work.

BMW i Ventures is a venture capital arm of BMW Group that invests in start-ups in all stages, from early stage to late stage, which are 'dedicated to shape the future of global mobility'.