Q5D’s proposal is simple: use robotics to automate the process of producing wire harnesses for electronics. It’s one that – surprisingly – is often still performed by hand, due to its overall complexity. It’s a process, the company is quick to point out, that hasn’t really changed much over the past century. Moving things to machines would help speed up the manufacturing process (a definite plus amidst all of the current slowdowns), reduce costs, and mitigate human error.
The Bristol, UK-based startup was founded in 2019 by Steve Bennington and Chris Elsworthy, who were previously involved with Cella Energy and CEL-UK and are now CEO and CTO respectively. In fact, the company is actually a joint venture between CEL-UK – a company that makes 3D printers (including the Robox brand) – and M-Solv, which makes machine tools for electronics manufacturing.
Q5D is a former HAX hardtech startup program, with that venture’s parent company, SOSV, participating in its recently announced funding round. “Laying cabling inside products is one of the most manual and time-consuming parts of manufacturing. Q5D’s process and products are fundamental to closing the automation loop in advanced manufacturing,” HAX Partner Duncan Hunter said in a statement related to the funding.
The $2.7 million seed is led by Chrysalix Venture Capital and includes additional participation from the Rainbow Seed Fund. The money will be used to scale its technology, which is currently used primarily by aerospace customers including Safran and Oxford Space Systems. Consumer electronics and automotive are also on the table, although the company is quick to note that the technology can be deployed across a very wide range of categories – the main qualifier being electronics with integrated wiring systems.
“It’s a time of big change – the rapid electrification of our transport systems and the increasing function of everything from washing machines to mobile phones means wiring is becoming more complex and labor intensive. “, Bennington said in the statement. “The way the world has made cabling for the past 80 years needs to change.”