April 11, 2016 Yerba Buena Center San Francisco CHECK:
M O C . N IG BLOOMBERGBUSINESSWEEKDES
In this gleaming lab in Redwood City, Calif., the first thing you notice is the burnt smell in the air. The next thing you notice is the whirring noise, from the machinery at the center of the lab cleaning objects pulled from humming rows of 5-foot-long cylindrical printers. They’re turning sludgy trays of gooey resin into caramel- colored shoe soles, valves, and prototype knee replacements.
This is Carbon, the first company in the $4 billion 3D-printing industry to offer a serious—and seriously fast— alternative to conventional injection molds. Using new materials, hardware, and software, Carbon’s printer, the M1, fires UV light at its syrupy resins to produce prototypes and production parts that can be more bouncy, stiff, tough, or heat-resistant than rival products, printing at speeds competitors can’t match. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Desimone gets a little flowery when the knees come out. “We don’t print,” he says. “We grow.”
Carbon has raised more than $140 million in venture funding, 10-fold the typical 3D-printing success story, from the likes of Google Ventures and Sequoia Capital. Instead of targeting home hobbyists like Makerbot Industries and Formlabs do, Carbon has teamed up with 15 big paying customers, including Johnson & Johnson, Ford, BMW, and Eastman Kodak. Its processes haven’t been around long enough to demonstrate their durability, but early clients say they’re happy with the medical devices, auto parts, and other equipment they’ve printed with Carbon’s machines. As of April 1, Carbon is making the M1 available to other businesses as part of a yearly subscription program.
The M1 uses a projector to precisely shape the UV light it focuses on polymer gunk, hardening it into solid materials the machine then extracts from the liquid goo. The company says its approach is as much as 100 times faster than those used by rivals, depending on the object’s complexity. Desimone says the software
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