Shape of Things to Come
Carbon3d is the latest hype-beast in 3-D printing, but it has the best chance yet to reinvent manufacturing.
Kirk Phelps wants to change how things get made. He holds up a foppy yellow circle of plastic, a sealing gasket for a generic automotive engine, and explains how this gasket is limiting human creativity. “If you want to make a new kind of engine, you don’t get to design the engine from the ground up. You actually go to your gasket supplier and ask what standard gaskets are available and you design the engine around it. This is backward,” says Phelps, a 33-year-old product designer who helped develop the multitouch on the iphone.
That frustration led him to take the job as head of product development at Carbon3d, one of the hottest startups to come along in the emerging 3-D printing industry. The promise of 3-D printing is the ability to produce a solid part on the spot based on any digital 3-D fle, freeing engineers to build their dream engine. While some of the highest-end machines can precisely print small-batch items such as hearing aids and artifcial joints, the vast majority of 3-D printers in use today are slow and capable of making only trinkets and small prototypes. The early hype around 3-D printing peaked a couple of years ago, and now shares of the two big publicly traded printer manufacturers, Stratasys and 3D Systems, are 80% of their highs.
Carbon3d is reinjecting excitement into the feld. Its CEO and cofounder, Joseph Desimone, a 51-year-old entrepreneur and former chemistry professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, came up with a new way to print objects in 3-D so quickly and precisely that Sequoia Capital partner Jim Goetz (the sole backer
Plastic man: Ceo Joseph Desimone is breaking speed records with his 3-D printers, inspired in part by s liquid cyborg.