Industrial Painting: PaintJet’s Giant Robots Revolutionizing Industrial Jobs

Here in the States, the $2 trillion industry employs around eight million people — that’s nearly one New York City. Even in financial boom times, however, these jobs can be difficult to keep filled, owing to physical demands and other potential dangers. As evidenced from videos released by PaintJet, those sorts of older technologies remain intact here — albeit with an automated twist. CEO Nick Hegeman tells TechCrunch, that in spit of looking like a fairly standard piece of heavy machine, “We have created 100% of the robotic system. Of course, PaintJet is far from the only company vying to introduce robots to the world of industrial painting.

In the ever-evolving world of technology and innovation, it seems that construction is the next frontier for investment in robotics. In the United States, this $2 trillion industry employs a staggering eight million individuals – that’s almost the population of New York City. However, despite the financial prosperity during boom times, these positions often go unfilled due to the strenuous physical demands and potential risks involved.

One area of construction that is ripe for automation is industrial painting. After all, large-scale projects typically rely on a significant amount of heavy machinery. In fact, videos released by PaintJet showcase older technologies being utilized with a modern, automated twist. The Nashville-based startup unveiled their Bravo robotic painter in October, which resembles a mobile elevated work platform, or cherry picker.

“We have created 100% of the robotic system,” says CEO Nick Hegeman. “The only components we use from industry suppliers are the paint hoses, nozzles, and pumps.” He explains, “We are able to seamlessly connect to the platform and control both the lift and our robotic system. This allows us to easily scale with the established network of equipment rental providers.”

Today, PaintJet has announced a $10 million Series A funding round, led by Outsiders Fund and including other investors such as Pathbreaker Ventures, MetaProp, Builders VC, 53 Stations, and VSC Ventures. This follows a previous seed round of $3.5 million, led by Dynamo Ventures, bringing their total funding to $14.75 million.

Renowned for their Alpha Shield paint, which reportedly reduces wear and tear from the elements and extends the time between repaints, PaintJet is now eyeing industry staffing concerns as the main focus of their funding efforts. In a statement, Hegeman asserts, “We aim to not just automate the painting process, but to redefine industry standards, address labor shortages, and offer cost-effective solutions that break the traditional mold of painting. We are grateful to our investors for supporting our mission and allowing us to expand our reach into new sectors.”

While PaintJet made headlines with the unveiling of their Bravo robotic painter, they are certainly not the only company looking to introduce robotics into industrial painting. Gray Matter is already offering painting arms in various sizes, and Japanese giant Fanuc has also developed solutions, though they are currently limited in their reach compared to the buildings that PaintJet’s Bravo can tackle.

The startup’s target audience is primarily construction companies, with clients including Prologis, Clayco, Layton Construction, and Brinkmann Constructors. With only 24 full-time employees, some of PaintJet’s funding will go towards expanding their sales and operations team. Additionally, the company will be relocating their headquarters from Nashville to Virginia in order to focus on entering the marine business and increasing their engineering workforce to further develop their technology for wider distribution, according to Hegeman.

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Max Chen

Max Chen is an AI expert and journalist with a focus on the ethical and societal implications of emerging technologies. He has a background in computer science and is known for his clear and concise writing on complex technical topics. He has also written extensively on the potential risks and benefits of AI, and is a frequent speaker on the subject at industry conferences and events.

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