Accelerating Innovation: Martin Feldmann, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of VulcanForms

Laura Spaventa Lewis


Apr 12, 2023



Editor’s Note: Welcome to Eclipse’s Industrial Evolution Innovators Series, an introduction to the founders and companies shaping the New Economy.

Even though many of today’s 3D printing processes were invented 30+ years ago, only today is the technology coming to fruition at industrial scale. Let’s start in 2013, when Martin Feldmann met Professor John Hart in his first semester as a graduate student in manufacturing at MIT. John taught a course as part of the manufacturing program on a new topic, additive manufacturing, and Martin was a student in the class. A year later, Martin joined John's lab at MIT and they began exploring advancements in additive manufacturing, in particular the challenges that prevented it from reaching industrial scale. Hart and Feldmann recognized additive is just one piece of a larger production system and saw an opportunity to create the next generation of advanced manufacturing infrastructure. The pair also understood the resulting impact this technology could have on critical industries and the U.S. economy. It was then that the idea for VulcanForms, a company that builds and operates advanced digital manufacturing infrastructure, was born. 

Last summer — seven years after VulcanForms’ inception in 2015 and five years after their first round of funding — I stood in the middle of VulcanOne, the world’s highest throughput metal additive foundry in Devens, Massachusetts, absorbing the technological marvel in stunned silence when I heard from behind me, “So, what do you think?” I turned to find Feldmann, now VulcanForms’ Co-Founder, President, and CEO, in his uniform of a gray VulcanForms t-shirt, khaki-colored jeans, and Adidas sneakers, with a proud smile on his face. “Incredible,” I murmured. Incredible, indeed — the VulcanOne facility combines VulcanForms’ additive manufacturing technology with a digital thread, spanning advanced simulation, in-process sensing, and machine learning algorithms that ensure the highest level of quality and precision. By seamlessly integrating additive production at scale with heat treatment, precision machining, assembly, and inspection, VulcanForms’ end-to-end approach delivers engineered components and assemblies. This approach also designs and operates a digital-first process chain tailored to each customer’s needs, spanning industries like medical, defense, aerospace, semiconductors, and more. This full stack approach will revitalize U.S. manufacturing and hardware innovation.

I recently sat down with Feldmann to learn more about why he’s passionate about helping the U.S. take back its manufacturing power, the importance of the work the VulcanForms team is doing, and more.

Eclipse: Tell us more about yourself.

Martin: I grew up in Germany, specifically the Ruhr Valley, which is a major industrial region and one of the critical starting places of the Industrial Revolution in continental Europe. As a kid, my school field trips involved going through mills, foundries, and so forth. I was surrounded by metalworking and manufacturing, and it became a part of my DNA. I did what many folks who grew up in this area did and studied mechanical engineering. Afterwards, I briefly worked at ThyssenKrupp in the company’s largest automotive steel mill and then went onto work at Mercedes to focus on quality management of the foundry and forge at their headquarters in Stuttgart. I decided I did not want to continue working at large German industrial conglomerates and came to the U.S. to pursue a master’s degree in manufacturing at MIT. After first meeting Professor John Hart in his additive manufacturing class, I was eager to continue working together once I finished my thesis. 

Literally a week before I was scheduled to fly back to Germany, I found out I could work in the U.S. due to my STEM degree. Naturally, I approached John and asked, “Do you have a job for me?” John invited me to join his lab to do research related to nanomaterials and battery electrodes. As we worked together, we brainstormed new approaches to laser powder bed fusion and realized there was a tremendous opportunity, not only for additive manufacturing, but the larger advanced manufacturing industry as well.  Around this time, General Electric started making additively-produced fuel nozzle tips and that helped prove additive manufacturing works — and that it not only works, but works at scale even for highly critical components. This was the industry’s first example for production of aircraft engine parts using additive manufacturing. We understood there was a tremendous market opportunity to realize additive manufacturing at industrial scale and integrate it in a new digital production system.  A lot of good things came together: the opportunity, the fact John and I got along so well, and technological advances in the space. 

VulcanForms was founded in 2015 by Co-Founders Martin C. Feldmann and John Hart

Eclipse: Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur or was this journey serendipitous?

Martin: At MIT, I had to write a lot of papers and when I first came to the U.S. I didn’t speak English well. I didn’t know the difference between, “I will,” and, “I want,” which is why I think I came across a lot more confident than I actually am. When I wrote about my goals, I said, “I will,” and not, “I want.” I wrote, “I will become the CEO of a large German publicly traded company.” That’s some confidence right there. But to go back to your question, my goal was to become the CEO of an automotive company or something like that. My father is an entrepreneur — he is one of my role models — and has a construction business. It’s really hard and requires a lot from him. Of course, I saw that it was unbelievably satisfying to create something. That said, I always thought I was more of a big company person and had not seriously considered becoming an entrepreneur. A few things changed my perspective on taking an entrepreneurial plunge. First, was coming to the U.S., which I truly believe is the greatest country on Earth. You see how much is possible here — the U.S. is a country full of people that whenever confronted by a challenge, invent themselves out of their problems. This country starts businesses when they are not satisfied, when something is messed up for too long or they believe it can be done better. There is a boldness here and I found it intoxicating to hear people talk about solving important problems and starting companies. So, gaining a better understanding of the potential market opportunity for advanced manufacturing during my time at MIT and believing that it’s possible to create a company, were the two things that led me to start my entrepreneurial journey. 

You see how much is possible here — the U.S. is a country full of people that whenever confronted by a challenge, invent themselves out of their problems.

Eclipse: What’s your elevator pitch for VulcanForms?

Martin: It’s funny, when I told people I co-founded a company, their first question was, “What’s your elevator pitch?” I became nervous because I am very long-winded and it’s hard to condense down what we are doing at VulcanForms into a few sentences. But, Greg Reichow  taught me the importance of delivering concise and precise answers and recommended a precision question and answering course to me – which I am not exactly following here. My elevator pitch: VulcanForms builds and operates advanced digital manufacturing infrastructure and in doing so, enables the world’s critical industries to innovate, grow, and deliver sustainable impact. Our company tagline is, “Accelerating Innovation,” and I’m proud to say we have indeed accelerated innovation across multiple critical industries and for well-known companies.

Eclipse: Can you explain the importance of what your team is doing?

Martin: The United States made a massive mistake over the last few decades by divorcing product innovation from process innovation. This is something MIT Professor David Mindell once said to me that really struck a chord. Think about it — if you’re making a wooden table, you don’t really need to combine process and product know-how. It’s not exactly a high-performance device. But, the high-performance products of today, like aircraft engines, orthopedic implants, computer cooling devices, smartphones, and so on, push the envelope of design, production, and materials. We need to be a country that makes the highest performing products to assure national security, to innovate in healthcare, to become a leader in semiconductors, and on. Unfortunately, the U.S. thought manufacturing wasn’t attractive or important to our economy, and we outsourced it. In order to remain a top global power, we need to build a domestic manufacturing and product innovation ecosystem or we as a country are going to fall far behind and become irrelevant over time. This isn’t an option for the United States. Manufacturing is the engine that drives the U.S. economy and VulcanForms is building the infrastructure to fundamentally rethink the way products are imagined, designed, built, and delivered at scale.  

Manufacturing is the engine that drives the U.S. economy and VulcanForms is building the infrastructure to fundamentally rethink the way products are imagined, designed, built, and delivered at scale.  

Eclipse: You often hear about the glamorous side of entrepreneurship, but what about the flip side — what is the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur that you weren’t expecting?

Martin: When I first heard that question, I thought, “Please tell me about the glamorous side of entrepreneurship. I’d love to hear about that!” Joking aside, I often think about how some of the upsides are also the downsides. When you asked, “What are some of the greatest joys and pleasures of entrepreneurship,” that is being the CEO of a company that provides an income for 300+ families. So, what’s the downside? Feeling responsible for providing the income for 300+  families. Another pro? Accelerating innovation — that’s an unbelievably cool thing. What’s the downside? Well, we’ve become pretty important to the supply chain of some amazing and significant companies, and we need to deliver or else we might cripple the ability of others to accelerate innovation. The U.S. also doesn't have a large number of chances left to get this right — we’re on a timeline and the clock is ticking. So, whatever is the most satisfying thing is also what puts the most pressure on because you have all of these opportunities and potential to do good and you have a requirement to deliver. To deliver on our mission for our customers, employees, and people like Greg and the Eclipse team — who made it their business to provide capital and support for companies that have real impact on our lives. You can’t let any of them down. It’s an honor, but also a lot to shoulder sometimes.

Eclipse: What excites you the most about the potential of VulcanForms?

Martin: We are in the hardware world and I only know software companies that get to interact with as many different industries as we do. It’s hard to think of a hardware tech product that is used in semiconductors, defense, aviation, space, medical, etc. But with digital manufacturing, you can serve all these amazing industries. I wish I could share what I’ve seen come out of our facilities for companies you know well, across completely different industries. Visit our factories and you’ll see this is the future and we are thrilled to be a part of it. 

VulcanOne, the Devens, MA facility
VulcanTwo, the Newburyport, MA facility

Eclipse: What is your biggest tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Martin: Surround yourself with the right people and take their feedback. You need to find yourself partners that understand what you’re trying to do, the potential of your vision, the associated challenges, and what you need to do to overcome these challenges in order to be successful. This includes your co-founders, employees, investors, and board — you cannot have enough great people around you who you respect and trust. I am extremely lucky in this regard.     

Eclipse: What has been the most exciting moment for you as the Co-Founder of VulcanForms?

Martin: A simple moment that I vividly remember — and I was almost too emotional to drive my car home that day — was seeing our prototype make nice, single weld tracks and not just one big blob of awfulness for the first time. This was three years after we started working on the problem and a year after creating the prototype and messing around with it. I thought, “Okay, this might actually work.” It was a big moment. But, it’s important to point out that all of the magic happened for months leading up to this successful test. That’s the stuff folks don’t see. Everybody sees Usain Bolt sprinting 100 meters in record time, but that’s not when this man did his work. It was the years prior to that world record. And the same is true for entrepreneurial success, including the case when our prototype worked for the first time. That moment felt pretty good. The satisfaction of being an entrepreneur is a mixture of what you can offer people who are with you on the journey, what you are delivering to customers, and sometimes when you’ve really worked hard on something technical, seeing it doing what it is supposed to do — it’s freaking magical.

Learn more about how VulcanForms is enabling critical industries to innovate, grow, and deliver sustainable impact.

Follow Eclipse on LinkedIn for the latest on the Industrial Evolution.


  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Digital Transformation
  • Economy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Manufacturing
  • Manufacturing Infrastructure
  • Reshoring
  • U.S. Manufacturing
  • VulcanForms

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