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Desktop Metal on Tuesday morning will unveil its 3D metal printing system, which it believes will revolutionize the way metal components are designed and produced for automakers and a variety of other industries. Axios got a sneak peak yesterday:

Opportunity: The Massachusetts-based company estimates that the top ten global manufacturers produce around $1 trillion of metal parts annually, but just $1 billion of that is done via 3D printing. Co-founder and CEO Ric Fulop argues that existing technology is too expensive (machines can cost $1 million), too big (think 1970s computers) and too dangerous (workers often need to wear special breaching apparatus) because of fumes.

Basics: The company is building two different systems:

  • Studio: This is for engineers who want to prototype metal parts, and will begin shipping in September. They basically upload the desired designs, insert a cartridge of metal powder (which DM will sell, beginning with around 20 types) and then watch the part get built layer-by-layer. They then put the finished product into a microwave-based furnace box. One big technical advantage over other 3D metal printers is that the "supports" holding the parts in place just essentially disintegrate into sand, rather than need to be unbolted. No personal safety equipment is required, and Desktop Metal will sell either the entire system for $120k or $3,250 per month as a sort of subscription service with no money down (neither charge includes the cost of metal powder cartridges).
  • Production system: This one is slated for release in mid-2018, and is basically the mass production printer. The supposed advantages again will be cost (around $360k per machine), speed, size and safety. Plus, parts will be "nested" instead of welded.

Location, location: Desktop Metal is initially building all of its products at its Burlington, Mass. headquarters, but knows it will soon have to outsource production. That said, Fulop wants to keep manufacturing local, saying that Desktop Metal's CTO should be able to drive to the line in case of problems.

DNA: Fulop is the former CEO of lithium battery maker A123, which he helped take public. Other co-founders include Matt Verminski (ex-Kiva Systems, now Amazon Robotics) and MIT professors Ely Sachs and Yet-Ming Chiang. It has raised around $100 million in VC funding from investors like Google Ventures, BMW, General Electric, New Enterprise Associates and Kleiner Perkins.

Go deeper

Women rise to the top at major media companies

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several women have been tapped to lead some of the country's largest newsrooms over the past year — a promising sign of progress for an industry that's typically been slow to accept change and embrace diversity.

Driving the news: CBS News executive Kimberly Godwin was named president of ABC News on Wednesday. Godwin will be the first Black woman to lead a major broadcast news division when she takes the helm in May.

Americans will likely have to navigate a maze of vaccine "passports"

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Many private businesses and some states are plowing ahead with methods of verifying that people have been vaccinated, despite conservative resistance to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Many businesses view some sort of vaccine verification system as key to getting back to normal. But in the absence of federal leadership, a confusing patchwork approach is likely to pop up.

The future of political advertising is connected TV

Reproduced from Centro; Chart: Axios Visuals

Political advertising has quickly begun to migrate over to connected TV (CTV), or digital and streaming television, according to new data.

Why it matters: "If the current trends of explosive growth in CTV viewership continue, we could see a tipping point where CTV makes up nearly half of political digital ad spend as soon as 2022," says Grace Briscoe, vice president of candidates and causes at Centro, a digital ad placement firm that works with hundreds of campaigns across the country.