I would have to say that one of the more promising companies I have seen over the last six months within the 3D printing space is one founded by Dr. Jennifer A. Lewis, Wyss Professor of Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, called Voxel8. I was able to check this innovative 3D printer out back in January at CES and came away thoroughly impressed.
The machine, which prints using multiple materials, including that of a special conductive filament, is able to fabricate plastic objects which have intricate electrical components and circuits built in. Scaled up, and with proper funding, Voxel8 could change the way we manufacture electronics, and could put the power of manufacturing into the hands of the consumer.
Back in December, we reported that the company received an injection of funding by Braemar Energy Ventures. The terms of the deal as well as the amount of funding, were not publicly stated, however, according to Dr. Lewis it would enable the company to bring the technology to the mass market.
Now, nearly three months later, the company has reported yet another investment and technological development agreement, this time with an organization with ties to the CIA and U.S. Intelligence Community. This morning, Voxel8 announced that In-Q-Tel has agreed to terms on an investment deal which will help fund further progress within their development work for their electronics 3D printer.
“I am excited to leverage over a decade of research to transform the way devices are manufactured,” said Dr. Lewis, “Through the support of investors like In-Q-Tel, we are able to bring our ground-breaking technology to the mass market.”
Launched in 1999 as Peleus, and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, In-Q-Tel is a non-profit venture capital firm which has one purpose; equipping intelligence agencies like the CIA with the latest technologies available in order to support their operations. They have strategically invested in several major cutting-edge technology companies such as D-Wave, Boreal Genomics, CloudEra, Facebook, Genia Photonics, and others in an effort to serve U.S. national security interests.
“We are pleased to be partnering with Voxel8 to further develop its multi-material 3D printing technology,” said Megan Anderson, Vice President of Field Deployable Technologies at IQT. “The customization enabled by Voxel8’s technology allows users to quickly create new devices without the inconvenience of tooling, inventory, and supply chains associated with traditional manufacturing methods.”
The reason for interest among the U.S. Intelligence Community is somewhat apparent. This technology could transform just about every means of manufacturing on the planet, while providing individuals (both good and bad) with the power to fabricate electronics within their own homes. It will be interesting to see what eventually becomes of this company and what further ties may develop between them and agencies like the CIA.
What are your thoughts on this strategic investment by an organization with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency? What could it mean for Voxel8? Discuss in the Voxel8 Investment forum thread on 3DPB.com.