Impossible Objects raises $6.4M to grow staff in marketing, sales and R&D

Additive manufacturing startup Impossible Objects just stacked up a $6.4 million Series A.

Returning investor OCA Ventures led the round, which was also joined by IDEA Fund Partners, Mason Avenue Investments, Huizenga Capital Management and Inflection Equity Partners.

“3D printing is on a trajectory to disrupt traditional manufacturing,” said CEO Larry Kaplan. “We believe that we’ll accelerate that trajectory and be at the forefront of it.”

Impossible Objects uses composite-based additive manufacturing technology –– or CBAM –– to create functional parts and tools quickly and at scale.

Like most 3D printing, this technology relies on adding layers of material on top of each other to create a three-dimensional object. But Impossible Objects’s technology lets users use higher-strength materials and print at a faster pace.

To Kaplan, those features mean 3D printers can replace some of the equipment used in traditional manufacturing.

“The process involves feeding 2D sheets of composite materials into what is essentially an ink jet printer,” Kaplan said. “Ordinary [ink jet] heads wet the part shape onto the fabric, and the sheet goes through a system that drops thermoplastic powder across it. The powder sticks to where the sheet was wet, and the final stack of sheets is heated and pressed. The polymer bonds the sheets together to form the part.”

Impossible Objects is currently forming partnerships with original equipment manufacturers to test pilot versions of its printers. The company’s flagship printer, the Model One, will be commercially available sometime in 2018. 

Kaplan says the company’s printers have the capability to produce everything from automotive parts to medical devices.

“Impossible Objects is leading the way by using its technology to transform how the largest corporations manufacture,” said OCA Ventures general partner Ian Drury in a statement. “The market opportunity for a revolutionary industrial additive manufacturing solution such as Impossible Objects’ CBAM is enormous and the company has huge momentum right now.”

Impossible Objects plans to use its funding to grow its research and development team along with its sales and marketing staff. The company has a current headcount of 17 full-time employees, and Kaplan said he could easily foresee the team doubling in size during 2018.

 

Image via Impossible Objects.

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Autodesk patent seeks to improve flexural strength of 3D printed objects with support posts

Jul 7, 2017 | By Benedict

Autodesk has had a patent approved for a “support posts” technique for improving the flexural strength of 3D printed objects. Originally filed in 2014, the newly approved patent gives Autodesk ownership of a different approach to support structures.

As with other industries, the filing of patents in 3D printing is a long and occasionally drawn-out process. That’s why this newly approved patent for Autodesk might not seem like the hottest news: new approaches to “support posts” on 3D printed objects have been discussed by the 3D printing company since at least 2015, and the patent was originally filed way back in August 2014.

But the approval of this patent could be important news for Autodesk, with 3D printing software companies each seeking to develop better ways of stopping 3D printing objects from falling apart while printing. In the patent, inventor Ryan Michael Schmidt discusses several “embodiments” of his proposed support posts technique.

Embodiment 1:

A computer-implemented method for generating a 3D printed object having support posts for improved flexural strengths is provided. The method includes identifying a portion of a 3D model corresponding to the 3D printed object to which one or more support posts should be added. The method also includes for each of the one or more support posts, adding a support post descriptor to the 3D model within the portion, wherein the support descriptor defines a position and at least one dimension of a support post cavity and a position and at least one dimension of a support post, both having a height corresponding to at least two layers of 3D printable material. The method further includes transmitting one or more instructions to a 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to print at least two layers of the 3D model, the[n] at least two layers defining the support post cavity. The method also includes transmitting one or more instructions to the 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to generate a support post in the support post cavity.

Embodiment 2:

A non-transitory computer-readable medium storing instructions that, when executed by a processor, cause the processor to perform certain steps for improving the flexural strength of a 3D printed object is provided. The steps include identifying a portion of a 3D model corresponding to the 3D printed object to which one or more support posts should be added. The steps also include for each of the one or more support posts, adding a support post descriptor to the 3D model within the portion, wherein the support descriptor defines a position and at least one dimension of a support post cavity and a position and at least one dimension of a support post, both having a height corresponding to at least two layers of 3D printable material. The steps further include transmitting one or more instructions to a 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to print at least two layers of the 3D model, the[n] at least two layers defining the support post cavity. The steps also include transmitting one or more instructions to the 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to generate a support post in the support post cavity.

Embodiment 3:

A system for generating a 3D printed object with improved flexural strength is provided. The system includes a processor. The processor is configured to identify a portion of a 3D model corresponding to the 3D printed object to which one or more support posts should be added. The processor is also configured to for each of the one or more support posts, add a support post descriptor to the 3D model within the portion, wherein the support descriptor defines a position and at least one dimension of a support post cavity and a position and at least one dimension of a support post, both having a height corresponding to at least two layers of 3D printable material. The processor is further configured to transmit one or more instructions to a 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to print at least two layers of the 3D model, the[n] at least two layers defining the support post cavity. The processor is also configured to transmit one or more instructions to the 3D printer that cause the 3D printer to generate a support post in the support post cavity.

The differences between the three suggested embodiments are slight, but cover different ways in which the process could be triggered. The patent also specifies that this new approach to supports could improve the flexural strength of tall 3D printed objects (an upright candy cane is provided as an example) that cannot, for whatever reason, be reoriented to have fewer overall layers.

The patent was first published on February 26, 2016, the usual 18 months after the filing date. Read the approved patent in full here.

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

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Aleph Objects, colorFabb and Eastman collaboration showcases new printer's capabilities

Aleph Objects, Eastman Chemical Company and colorFabb BV are providing free samples of nGen, one of their collaborative filaments, to showcase the advanced capabilities of newly released LulzBot TAZ 6 3D printer. With this sample, users can immediately experience the printer’s capabilities for themselves.

Located in Loveland, Colorado, Aleph Objects — in business since 2011 — has offered the TAZ line of printers for a number of years, earning accolades from reviewers and 3D printing users. The LulzBot TAZ 6 desktop 3D printer is easy to use while maintaining the company’s commitment to respecting user freedom. It features self-levelling and self-cleaning, plus a modular tool head design for flexible and multimaterial upgrades.

 “This collaboration from Aleph Objects, colorFabb and Eastman — a desktop 3D printer developer, filament provider and material supplier, respectively — is an industry first,” said Ruud Rouleaux, Managing Director of colorFabb. “By working together, we’re providing all the right elements to support 3D printing customers and their use of the LulzBot TAZ 6 by running it with nGen filament.”

The LulzBot TAZ 6 is a Free Software, Libre Innovation and Open Source Hardware product, and Aleph Objects provides users with self-levelling, self-cleaning, an integrated power supply, dozens of build materials, hundreds of print profiles, three compatible tool head accessory upgrades and a PEI print surface.

“The LulzBot line offers machines the 3D printing community can rely on, and we continue to put heavy emphasis on providing high-quality, innovative machines to professional users, educators and hobbyists,” said Jeff Moe, President of Aleph Objects. “The LulzBot TAZ 6 is no exception, as we have incorporated many mechanical improvements to provide users with the most-reliable, easiest-to-use desktop 3D printer on the market today.”

Every LulzBot TAZ 6 shipment will come with 8 meters (26.25 feet) of LulzBot green nGen. The filament, made with Eastman Amphora AM3300 3D polymer, is a tough low-odour and styrene-free offering that is suitable for most day-to-day 3D printing activities. With advanced features, it is easy to use, reliable and designed for a wide range of 3D printing users. nGen, which launched at the 2016 International Consumer Electronics Show, has the ability to print within a wide processing range, and adds functional properties and top print quality to the Eastman-colorFabb filament line.

“In Eastman labs, shops and factory floors, we are using the TAZ line of printers more and more, as they’ve proven to be reliable, easy to work with and more than capable of delivering functional parts as well as aesthetic prototypes,” said Alex Dudal, Market Development manager, Eastman. “The TAZ printers also have been indispensable in material development efforts, allowing us to bring new Eastman Amphora 3D polymer innovations to market faster.”

Aleph Objects 3D Prints 1 Million Printer Parts

Aleph Objects Inc. has stated it has printed the one millionth part in the production of its LulzBot line of 3D printers. Each desktop system contains over 30 printed parts.

According to the company, the one millionth part, a large herringbone gear licensed under the GNU GPLv3, was printed by the company’s Cluster of 140 LulzBot 3D printers that operates more than 100 hours per week and is essential to the company’s production process. This method of production was originally pioneered in desktop 3D printing by the RepRap Project.

It took over 2 1/2 years to print the first 500,000 parts. Aleph Objects now prints at a rate of 500,000 parts per year. This increased efficiency was made possible by upgrading to new models of LulzBot 3D printers, adding more machines, expanding operating hours, and adopting new technology to make operating and monitoring the machines more efficient, the company states.

“LulzBot desktop 3D printers are workhorse machines that we, and our customers in over 85 countries around the world, rely on every day,” says Harris Kenny, vice president of Marketing at Aleph Objects Inc. “We are proud to see the growing number of universities, laboratories, facilities, and businesses investing in clusters of LulzBot 3D printers to scale up educating, training, prototyping, and manufacturing.”

For more information, visit Aleph Objects.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

Nano Dimension Files Patent for Printing Multimaterial 3D Objects

NESS ZIONA, Israel, Dec. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Nano Dimension, a leading printing electronics company in the area of 3D printing (TASE: NNDM, OTCQX: NNDMY), announced today that Nano Dimension Technologies, a fully owned subsidiary of Nano Dimension, has filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for the printing of 3D models, which includes electronic conductors.

The company has developed an innovative approach to print objects in 3D that contain conductive traces – a process the new patent would cover. Nano Dimension was able to make this new technological development as a result of its work developing materials and 3D printers for multilayer PCB prototyping.

The sintering of a printed metal conductor within a 3D printed polymer allows for complex connectors to be 3D printed and also makes it possible to 3D print molded connectors directly onto electronic circuits. The newly developed process may also be applied to 3D printing of non-flat electronic circuits as well as structural objects with embedded electronic circuits.

The materials and processes required for 3D printing objects containing semiconductors may result in a significant breakthrough for the industry, enabling the creation of freeform electronic products that cannot be created using current circuit manufacturing technologies.

About Nano Dimension
Nano Dimension, founded in 2012, focuses on development of advanced 3D printed electronics systems. Nano Dimension’s unique products combine three advanced technologies: 3D inkjet, 3D software and nanomaterials. The company’s primary products include the first 3D printer dedicated to printing multi-layer PCBs (printed circuit boards) and advanced nanotechnology-based conductive and dielectric inks.

Nano Dimension trades on OTCQX® Best Market in the U.S. and on the TASE in Israel. The Bank of New York Mellon serves as the depositary for Nano Dimension. U.S. investors can find current financial disclosure and Real-Time Level 2 quotes for Nano Dimension on http://www.otcmarkets.com/stock/NNDMY.

This press release contains forward-looking statements. Words such as “expects,” “anticipates,” “intends,” “plans,” “believes,” “seeks,” “estimates” and similar expressions or variations of such words are intended to identify forward-looking statements. These statements are only predictions based on Nano Dimension’s current expectations and projections about future events.

There are important factors that could cause Nano Dimension’s actual results, level of activity, performance or achievements to differ materially from the results, level of activity, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.

Those factors include, but are not limited to the impact of general economic conditions, competitive products, product development risk, product demand and market acceptance risks, reliance on key strategic alliances or fluctuations in operating results. Except as otherwise required by law, Nano Dimension undertakes no obligation to publicly release any revisions to these forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events.

CONTACT:
INVESTOR RELATIONS:
Miri Segal-Scharia
Hayden/ MS-IR LLC
917-607-8654
msegal@ms-ir.com

Logo – http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150803/254191LOGO

 

New hydrographic printing adds complicated color patterns to 3D printed objects

May 14, 2015 | By Simon

Although we’ve seen a variety of additive manufacturing technology breakthroughs over the past few years ranging from fabrication speed increases and material developments to ways of lower the actual cost of 3D printers, one area of 3D printing that could use some improvement is the ability to create 3D printed objects with complicated patterns and a variety of colors at a low cost.  

While some of the more expensive industrial machines are capable of printing objects in multiple colors and materials – such as the Objet line of 3D printers from Stratasys – many of these options are out of reach for the average consumer.

However, thanks to recent developments in hydrographic printing, users may soon be able to accurately color standard 3D prints from any 3D printer.

Hydrographic printing, which is also known as water transfer printing, is a technique used to quickly add color and pattern template designs to a manufactured object.  The process begins with a thin sheet of transparent film (which features the intended design) that is placed onto the surface of a tub of water and chemicals.  Once the film is laid flat on the surface of the water, an object can be dunked into the film which will then wrap around the object and bond to an object’s surface.     

   

While the process has worked for decades for a variety of products it isn’t ideal for coloring or patterning objects that require precision placement; due to the unpredictability of the dunking process, it’s difficult to gauge where specific points of the film will end up on the final object.  For example, if a scaled Formula 1 car model was to be dipped in a film that featured details including sponsor logos and decals, there would be no way of ensuring that the details would end up where they were intended.  

Now, a group of researchers from both Columbia University and Zheijiang University in China have recently developed a solution for ensuring that users just might be able to better-gauge where the film ends up on their physical object by creating a simulation of the stretching that occurs during the transfer process and applying these changes into the film itself.   

“Hydrographic printing enables high-quality coloring of object surfaces and works with a wide range of materials, but suffers from the inability to accurately register color texture to complex surface geometries,” said the researchers in a recently-published report.

“Thus, it is hardly usable by ordinary users with customized shapes and textures.”

Using the new “computational hydrographic printing” developed by the researchers however, casual 3D printing users may soon be able to more accurately customize their designs using this unique color and patterning process.  

“We built a hydrographic printing system that is able to precisely control the object orientation and dipping location,” they add.  

“The entire system is built upon off-the-shelf hardware and can be easily set up by ordinary users.”

The process works by simulating the stretching that occurs during the immersion in software developed by the research team.  Once the physical structure and desired pattern have been simulated, a film transfer is created that has distorted the colors and pattern accordingly to match the stretching process.  The researchers even developed a way to convey surface textures – including the ability to illustrate Earth terrain in a globe model that they created.    

Among other applications, the research team believes that 3D printing enthusiasts will find a use for the technology to quickly and accurately add complex colors and patterns to otherwise-plain 3D printed objects.  For those familiar with unwrapping UVs from 3D models to create custom skins, this technology could be used to accurately create photo-real ‘physical skins’ using a similar method.  

The researchers are also exploring a “multi-immersion” system that will be capable of applying more three-dimensional paint jobs to objects over a series of immersions.  

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Impossible Objects Receives $2.8m Investment to 3D Print with Kevlar, Fiberglass & Carbon Fiber

Impossible Objects is, even for the 3D printing world, apparently doing the impossible. The focus of the company is to create the world’s first composite 3D printed objects, using an impressive variety of materials, to revolutionize the already-revolutionary 3D printing space.

Larry Kaplan heads up the Impossible Objects team as the CEO. The former CEO of Navteq, Kaplan is leading the five-employee firm’s chaimpossible objects logorge in developing novel 3D manufacturing machines to enhance upon the presently available capabilities.

“Current technologies are 20 or so years old,” said Kaplan. “They are great for prototyping but too slow compared to volume manufacturing. The parts coming out of 3-D weren’t as good as traditional manufacturing. To make a dent in manufacturing, you have to overcome the challenges of 3-D printing: speed of production, using a wider range of materials and coming up with superior mechanical properties.”

To help Impossible Objects on this venture, several new investors are jumping in to back the startup. Today, December 16th, Northbrook, Illinois-based Impossible Objects has received new investments to the tune of $2.8 million from OCA Ventures and angel investors. Among the angel investors are Armando Pauker (a partner at Apex Venture Partners in Chicago) and Len Wanger (managing partner at Deer Valley Ventures of Park City, Utah).

larry kaplan ceo impossible objects

Larry Kaplan, CEO, Impossible Objects

The $2.8 million investment will lead to a strengthening in Impossible Objects’ offerings, from 3D printers to sales and marketing efforts. And it looks like they have just the right leadership team in place to advance the additive manufacturing space. With Kaplan as the CEO and serial entrepreneur Robert (Bob) Swartz, the company’s founder , now serving as the chairman and adviser, the experience at the top of this ladder exudes confidence and competence. In addition to Swartz and Kaplan, the Impossible Objects team includes Chief Manufacturing Officer John Bayldon, as well as a lab manager and a manufacturing technician.

After founding Impossible Objects, Swartz brought Kaplan on as CEO in June, expanding from his previous experience in leading Navteq through its IPO and subsequent sale to Nokia.

“OCA invested in Impossible Objects because it’s being led by an all-star team of Larry and Bob, who have a lot of experience building companies from early stage startups to IPO,” said Imran Ahmad, principal at OCA Ventures.

The newly invested seed money will help Impossible Objects in the goal to bring 3D printed components straight into use — they’re not looking to simply prototype. By creating their products using composite materials, Kaplan notes that they are immediately usable. They use two or more materials, from Kevlar to carbon fiber to fiberglass, in creating their products. This array of materials in each piece presents more usability than simple thermoplastic or limited metal options found in most 3D printers could provide. “Our parts,” said Kaplan, “are not just for prototypes; they’re for end use.”

impossible object things

Impossible Objects has already created viable components for use in small aircraft and a fan blade. Looking at the longer term, the company is seeking to target aerospace, automotive, and medical applications which all require fail-proof parts. The machines that Impossible Objects seeks to make are based on technology that Swartz developed. They now use two machines to create their 3D printed objects, and presently serve aerospace and trucking industry customers. According to Kaplan, Impossible Objects will begin to sell industrial machines in about a year.

The additive manufacturing technology from Impossible Objects relies on a patent-pending process that Kaplan describes as a “combination [that] gives you the strength [of fiber] but the light weight of a polymer or plastic,” while also accentuating speed. A goal of the company is to enhance production speed to rival that of injection molding processes. For Impossible Objects’ process, polymer material is laid on thin sheets of fiber in the designed shape. These sheets are stacked, heated to reach the melting point of the polymer, and fused together. Excess material, finally, is buffed away via mechanical abrasion.

What do you think about additive manufacturing using composite materials? Let us know in the Impossible Objects Receives $2.8 Million Investment forum thread at 3DPB.com.