3D printing unicorn Carbon signed a deal with Solid Print3D in the UK and Selltek in Italy as it gears up to accelerate its presence in Europe. The successful seven-year-old Silicon Valley company had reported a valuation at around $2.4 billion in 2019, along with plans to expand to Europe and Asia. This latest deal is a big part of that strategic decision as the partnership marks the entry of Carbon into two up-and-coming markets.
With 3D printing continuing to disrupt traditional manufacturing in a wide range of key industries in Europe, it is creating an opportunity for companies like Carbon, looking to secure their share of the market well into the future. Particularly in Italy and the UK, small businesses and many of the largest companies have begun incorporating additive technologies into their workflow, including several famous automotive brands, like Ferrari, Ducati, and Rolls Royce. In fact, European patent applications for additive manufacturing (AM) have seen a growth rate of 36% per year, according to the latest data from the European Patent Office (EPO). This is more than ten times greater than the average yearly growth of all EPO applications combined in the same period, which was a modest 3.5% in comparison.
The biggest sectors for AM patent applications have been health, energy, and transportation, each of them filing significant patent volumes well into the early thousands. The EPO has also seen rapid growth in other areas, including industrial tooling, electronics, construction, consumer goods, and food. Europe’s sustained demand for additive technologies opens up an entirely new spectrum for innovative 3D printing manufacturers.
“Europe is a strategic market for Carbon. We’ve identified customer demand for our 3D printing innovations that provide unique advantages over design and manufacturing processes currently available,” said Ellen Kullman, President and CEO of Carbon. “Solid Print3D and Selltek are strategic partners that will support our go-to-market strategy while bringing a level of regional expertise to support customers on their journey to make better products in less time.”
Carbon technology is already installed and employed by companies across several large markets in Europe. However, leading Italian 3D printing dealer Selltek and UK-based printing expert and seller Solid Print3D are Carbon’s first sales partners in the regions to execute its strategic approach. Through these new deals, the company is building on its success in Europe and addressing growing demand in the region by making its flagship Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology more widely accessible.
The proprietary CLIP process was considered a breakthrough when Carbon revealed it in 2015. By using digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins, the technology produces parts with exceptional mechanical properties super fast. CLIP harnesses light and oxygen to continuously grow objects from a pool of resin instead of printing them layer-by-layer. According to Carbon, the existing 3D printing techniques take many hours, or even days, and have limitations, including mechanical weakness due to layering. Instead, Carbon’s layer-less production claims to tackle these hurdles growing objects at speeds between 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printing.
Now considered a form of continuous digital light processing (DLP) additive process, CLIP was first introduced with the M1 3D printer, followed by the M2, which offered twice its predecessor’s build volume. Brands like Adidas, Ford, and Lamborghini are already using the technology for innovative new products or parts. Best of all, Carbon’s unique subscription-based model closely aligns it to the customers’ businesses, with regular over-the-air software updates, continuous education and training programs, and one-to-one customer service.
Several European service bureaus and companies are already using Carbon technology, but the new deal will help to expand the brand’s network of production partners. As the retail arm of 3D printing service provider Prototek, Selltek will add its regional expertise and industry knowledge of planning, design, and production activities to make Carbon printers widely available to Italian users. Selltek CEO Alberto Rizzi said Italy has proven to be a hotbed for innovation and design, and 3D printing technology will allow design engineers to bring more ideas to life.
In the UK, Solid Print3D is the sister business to SolidWorks reseller Solid Solutions and provides support to a customer base of more than 19,000 engineering businesses. The Stareton-based 3D printing supplier offers 3D printers, software, and scanners from leading global AM brands. Furthermore, this latest partnership will help engage more companies and drive UK adoption of 3D technology.
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