Although Autodesk’s CEO Carl Bass seems to be more optimistic about the industrial side of the 3D printing market than the consumer side of it all, the company has been investing heavily into this area. Over the last year alone, Bass has slowly been turning Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) into a force to be reckoned with, when it comes to both 3D printing software and hardware.
It was about 11 months ago when the company surprised us all, announcing their Spark 3D printer operating system, which many immediately began referring to as the ‘Android OS” of the 3D printing world. In addition to Spark, Autodesk announced that they would be putting forth an example of what the software is capable of by introducing their own SLA 3D printer as well. This printer, called Ember, has recently launched to fairly good reviews. If this wasn’t enough to show how serious Autodesk was about their entrance into this space, than the news which broke in October of last year surely was.
On October 30th, Autodesk announced the launch of the $100 Million Spark Investment Fund which would be made available to 3D Printing Innovators across the globe. The company did not elaborate on just what this huge amount of money would be used for specifically, only stating that it was a venture fund exclusively dedicated to driving the overall growth of the 3D printing ecosystem. With that said, today things got a little bit clearer.
Last month, we covered a story on a company called Carbon3D. In fact, it could be argued that this story has been one of the biggest pieces of news within the industry this year. Carbon3D had just emerged from stealth mode to reveal that they had received $41 million in funding for a product they claimed could print 25 to 100 times faster than any other 3D printer on the market today.
Well, today, Carbon3D announced yet another investment, this time $10 million from the Spark Investment Fund, bringing their total funding to $51 million.
“We started the Spark Investment Fund to help drive the 3D printing industry forward,” said Carl Bass, Autodesk president and CEO. “Carbon3D embodies the innovation that’s required to change how products are made. The incredible speed of its CLIP technology makes 3D printing accessible for true manufacturing, beyond the prototyping and the one-offs we see it being used for now.”
The CLIP technology found within Carbon3D’s machine, uses both light and oxygen to cure and inhibit the curing of a photosensitive resin. By using this proprietary technique, objects can be printed without the common layering effect, at speeds which had been unimaginable until Carbon3D came along.
“By working at the intersection of hardware, software and molecular science, we are aiming to fundamentally address the issues that have held 3D printing back from becoming a manufacturing process,” said Dr. Joseph DeSimone, CEO and co-founder, Carbon3D. “We’re honored to have an industry powerhouse like Autodesk recognize the transformative nature of our CLIP technology and engage with us in such a significant way.”
Considering the size of this investment, Autodesk likely took a substantial stake in the company. It will be interesting to see how other printer manufacturers react to this news, as the CLIP technology behind the printer already was enough to at least put many of them on-guard. With a $14 billion company like Autodesk now backing this technology, many of these companies may have to somewhat rethink their strategies moving forward.
It will be interesting to see what role Autodesk will have in the development of this technology, and if the future printer released by Carbon3D will be powered by the Spark Platform. Let us know your thoughts on this news. Discuss in the Carbon3D/Autodesk forum thread on 3DPB.com.