Carbon, a 3D printing startup, has just raised $81 million from a number of big name manufacturers, including BMW, Nikon and GE. The startup promises production speeds of up to 100 times faster than traditional printers. The new investment is an extension of its $100 Series C round, which was led by Google Ventures. Its total funding now comes to $222 million.
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The new funds will be used toward Carbon’s goal of bringing 3D printing to more companies and other entities that are transitioning from using the technology for prototyping only to also using it for various production applications.
BMW plans to incorporate Carbon’s machine, called the M1, into their manufacturing lines.
“Currently BMW is using carbon’s printer to make custom nameplates but they are not in German production facilities at this time or incorporated into their manufacturing,” said a spokesperson for Carbon.
Carbon calls its 3D printing technology ”Continuous Liquid Interface Production,” or CLIP, where a machine pulls a solid object from a small tub of liquid plastic. It’s a variation on a decades-old technique called stereolithography, or the use of light to solidify liquid plastic.
“We’re really focused on making final parts at game changing speeds,” said Dr. Joseph DeSimone, CEO and cofounder of Carbon as well as a chemistry professor on leave from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We’re going to be competing with injection molding.”
Carbon will have delivered 92 printers to customers by the end of 2016, and hopes to ship 500 more in 2017, he said. Carbon sells its printers on a subscription basis at a price of $40,000 per year for a minimum of three years. The company constantly improves its custom algorithms used for printing and creates additional software features that customers can download as part of their deal, DeSimone said.