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This Company Does 3D Printing at a Speed No One Else Can Match

This Company Does 3D Printing at a Speed No One Else Can Match


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 has a lot to do with that. Every day, each Carbon printer generates 1 million data points, precisely tracking the zaps of the UV light, the movement of the printed object, the rate of the printing, and so on. One customer was alerted to a rash of errors based on a change in room temperature.

Jason Lopes is the lead systems engineer at special effects studio Legacy Effects, which uses 11 kinds of 3D printers. “By default, I’m going to the Carbon machine first,” he says. In three hours, the Carbon prints body armor props that take other machines more than four times as long. Ellen Lee, Ford’s technical head of 3D-printing research, says Carbon’s advantage is the diversity of its plastics, which allows her team to make an especially wide range of models and prototypes from a single printer.

Chip Gear, founder of an industrial manufacturing firm called Technology House, has been using a beta version of the Carbon printer for six months. It has cut printing time for a radio-frequency connector from 12 hours to 40 minutes, and printing eight at once takes just 43 minutes total, says Gear, adding that he bought a second printer in March and is talking with his chief financial officer about ways he can afford more. “I’m trying to find out how many they can let me have this year,” he says.

DeSimone and Alex Ermoshkin, Carbon’s co-founder and chief technology officer, began developing their printer technology in 2013. DeSimone is a chemistry professor at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he and Ermoshkin worked together. They noticed most 3D-printing companies were trying to print items one layer at a time and bet they could improve the process with a continuous building technique. That year, Ermoshkin built the first prototype printer with his teenage son. By the end of 2013, Sequoia had led Carbon’s first round of funding, totaling $11 million.

Sequoia partner Jim Goetz says the co-founders have laid to rest any worries that Carbon’s early prototype wouldn’t translate into commercial production. The next test will be getting a wider group of customers to pay for it. Carbon charges $40,000 a year to rent one of its printers and get software updates, plus an installation fee of $10,000 and $79 to $399 for every fifth of a gallon of liquid plastic. The company says it isn’t profitable and declined to disclose revenue. DeSimone says he also wants to create an online marketplace where other chemists can sell their own materials for its printers.

Industry analysts warn that Carbon has yet to prove its light-forged plastics wear well. The properties of the plastics “tend to degrade over time, which is why they’re not used for the manufacturing of most products that use plastics,” says Terry Wohlers, president of consulting firm Wohlers Associates. Carbon’s method of printing could hurt the stability and strength of its final products, says Joe Kempton, an analyst with Canalys.

Carbon’s vice president for materials, Jason Rolland, says the company runs industry-standard tests and its materials “look great out to at least six months.” DeSimone says his unique processes help, not hurt, the finished product, especially the way Carbon mixes its plastics from distinct components just before printing. This makes them stronger, he says, because they finish binding together after they’ve been hit with the UV light.

Early users Lopes and Gear say they haven’t had any trouble yet. Lopes says the materials from Carbon hold up “10 times better” than those from others. None of his customers, he says, has come back with any broken parts.




这是碳,在$ 4个十亿三维印刷行业第一家提供了一个严肃的,认真的快速替代传统的注塑模具。采用新材料,硬件和软件,碳的打印机时,M1,其糖浆的树脂制作原型和生产部件激发紫外线,可以更加有弹性,坚硬,强韧,或耐热性比竞争对手的产品,印刷速度的竞争对手无法比拟的。联合创始人兼首席执行官约瑟夫·德西蒙变得有点花哨时屈膝出来。 “我们不打印,”他说。 “我们的成长。”




贾森·洛佩斯是特效工作室遗留影响,它采用11种3D打印机的首席系统工程师。 “默认情况下,我将碳机首,”他说。在三小时内,只要该采取其他机器的四倍以上的碳原子的打印防弹衣道具。艾伦李,福特的3D印刷的研究技术负责人表示,碳的优势是其塑料的多样性,这使得她的团队进行特别广泛的模型和原型来自一台打印机。

芯片齿轮,称为技术楼工业制造公司的创始人,一直用碳打印机的测试版六个月。它已经削减印刷时间,射频连接器,从12小时至40分钟,并打印八点一次,将只有43分钟的总说齿轮,补充说,他买了三月份第二台打印机,并与他的首席财务官有关谈话他的方法能够负担得起更多。 “我试图找出他们能多少让我有这一年,”他说。

德西蒙和Alex Ermoshkin,Carbon公司的共同创始人和首席技术官,开始发展自己的打印机技术在2013年德西蒙在北卡罗莱纳州立大学北卡罗莱纳大学教堂山分校的化学教授,并在那里他和Ermoshkin一起工作。他们注意到大多数3D印刷公司都试图打印项目的时间和赌一层,他们可以改善一个连续的建筑技术的过程。那年,建Ermoshkin与他十几岁的儿子第一个原型打印机。截至2013年底,红杉导致碳的第一轮融资,总额$ 1 100万。


红杉合伙人吉姆·戈茨说,联合创始人已安葬碳的早期原型不会转化为商业化生产任何后顾之忧。接下来的测试会得到更广泛的客户群为它付出。碳费每年$ 40,000到租用其打印机之一,并获得软件更新,加上$ 10,000 $和79 $ 399液体塑料每加仑每五分安装费。该公司说,这是不盈利的,并拒绝透露收入。德西蒙说,他也想创建一个在线市场,其他化学家可以出售自己的材料,其打印机。

业内分析师警告称,碳尚未证明其光伪造塑料经久耐用。塑料的特性“往往随着时间的推移,这就是为什么他们不用于生产使用的塑料大部分产品的,”特里沃勒斯,咨询公司沃勒斯Associates的总裁说。 Carbon的印刷方法可能会伤害其最终产品的稳定性和强度Canalys的分析师乔·肯普顿说。


早期用户洛佩斯和齿轮说,他们还没有遇到任何麻烦呢。 Lopes说从碳材料托起比别人“10次更好。”他的客户都没有,他说,已经回来任何破损部分。



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