Carbon Co-Founder and CEO Recognized with Heinz Award for Contributions to Technology, the Economy, Employment

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The Heinz Awards were established in 1993 to honor US Senator John Heinz, and every year extraordinary individuals are recognized for their creativity, determination, contributions, and accomplishments in finding real solutions to critical issues in the world. The awards are administered by the Heinz Family Foundation in the areas of Arts and Humanities; Environment; Human Condition; Public Policy; and Technology, the Economy and Employment. Invited experts submit nominations anonymously, and jurors review the nominations and make recommendations to the foundation’s Board of Directors, who choose the final recipients. The list of this year’s recipients has just come out, and Dr. Joseph DeSimone, the Co-Founder and CEO of Carbon, has been named a recipient of the award in the Technology, the Economy and Employment category.

Dr. DeSimone is a chemist and entrepreneur, and is an expert in polymeric materials. He is being honored in the 22nd Heinz Awards for his achievements in multiple fields, including 3D printing, nanoparticle fabrication, green chemistry, and convergence research, which integrates engineering, life, and physical sciences to power innovations that have a positive impact on human life in energy, health, environment, and the economy. His labs at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University are advocates for this model of research, as well as for diversity in STEM fields.

“Diversity is a fundamental tenet of innovation. After all, we learn the most from those we have the least in common with. It’s the differences across disciplines, perspectives, life experience, culture and gender coming together that culminate to drive new ways of thinking and problem solving,” he said.

Dr. Joseph DeSimone

Teresa Heinz, Chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation, said, “Dr. DeSimone’s achievements as a polymer scientist and entrepreneur leading to singular breakthroughs in areas such as 3D printing, nanomedicine and green chemistry are many, and the positive effects on how we live, create, work and treat our planet are only just beginning to be seen. We honor him with the Heinz Award in Technology, the Economy and Employment not only for these accomplishments, but also for his ability to work across the traditional boundaries of scientific discipline, and for taking knowledge gained out of the laboratory and into the places where it can have a positive impact.”

Back when he was working in green chemistry, Dr. DeSimone invented new methods of polymer synthesis that use carbon dioxide in its fluid state to create Teflon-like fluoropolymer plastics, rather than dangerous solvents; before, these could only be created with Freon and chlorofluorocarbons, which are bad for the ozone layer. In the additive manufacturing field, Dr. DeSimone is noted for the development of Carbon’s famous high-speed Continuous Liquid Interface Production, or CLIP, which was introduced in 2015.

The technology uses software to tune the interaction of oxygen and UV light to quickly 3D print parts. Digital Light Synthesis, which combines digital light projection with an oxygen-permeable environment and programmable resins to create strong, high-performance polymer parts, is the process behind CLIP. Recently, Carbon used its CLIP technology in a partnership with Adidas for its Futurecraft 4D shoe with lattice midsole, which can be 3D printed in an astonishing 30 minutes; 5,000 pairs of the shoe will be available this year, with over 100,000 planned for 2018.

“At Carbon, we are inspired by what people can do with our developments, and we have brought a diverse set of people together for a common purpose—to make a difference. With CLIP and the parallel breakthrough we’ve made in the development of programmable liquid resins, we are changing the whole trajectory of how polymeric products are designed, engineered, made and delivered, from computer components and medical devices to running shoes and cars,” said Dr. DeSimone.

“3D printing has had everyone’s attention, and inspired a lot of people to innovate, but until now, it has been a frustratingly slow technology, without the quality or the materials to scale production. With our technology, the entire dynamic of traditional manufacturing is changing. Instead of making many parts that then need to be assembled in order to create a final object, we are able to directly make the final product.”

Dr. DeSimone and the rest of the Carbon team also developed dual cure resins that are 3D printable with CLIP technology, printing stronger parts with smoother surfaces. Carbon is currently working with manufacturing partners to continue developing applications for the unique CLIP process. Dr.DeSimone also invented PRINT (Particle Replication in Non-wetting Templates), a soft lithographic technique which makes tiny nanoparticles that have control over composition, shape, size, and surface chemistry; the process has potential in vaccine delivery to prevent diseases like tuberculosis and malaria.

The other Heinz Awards recipients this year, who will receive their awards with Dr. DeSimone in Pittsburgh next month, include:

  • Arts and Humanities: Natasha Trethewey, Evanston, Illinois
  • Human Condition: Angela Blanchard, Houston, Texas
  • Environment: Gregory Asner, Ph.D., Stanford, California
  • Public Policy: Mona Hanna-Attisha, M.D., Flint, Michigan

Each one will receive an unrestricted cash award of $250,000.

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