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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Konica Minolta Expands Their 3D Printer Sales Partnership with 3D Systems in the Australian Market

konica-minoltaJapanese imaging technology manufacturer and developer Konica Minolta went into business with 3D Systems last year when they signed a local distribution agreement for the Australian market.  Less than a year later, according to Konica Minolta, demand has increased so much that they are already planning on expanding their operation. The company has already hired several new regional sales specialists to manage the increased interest in 3D Systems’ commercial 3D printer offerings. They will also be increasing the local resellers’ product servicing capabilities as well as improving their warehousing logistics. Konica Minolta was the first company to sell, service, install and support 3D Systems 3D printers in Australia, and the company also has a similar deal in the United States.

3D Systems ProJet 3500.

3D Systems ProJet 3500.

Despite the company’s size, 3D Systems rarely sells its own 3D printers, choosing to sign deals with resellers all over the world who can sell printers locally and offer support and servicing. Typically their reseller partners were smaller 3D printing companies; however, increasingly large corporations are getting in on the 3D printing action. Unlike fellow imaging company HP, Konica Minolta isn’t developing their own 3D printers but is choosing to simply resell those developed and manufactured by 3D Systems. The partnership is a natural fit, as Konica Minolta structures their own office equipment reseller network similarly and already has a vast, global distribution network in place that can easily scale up if the market demands it.

“What Konica Minolta brings to the market is industry leading and guaranteed same-day service response nation-wide, along with rental and operating lease options, which negates the need for our customers to outlay capital expenditure. Konica Minolta has for years built up its support infrastructure for the printing industry. Now the Australian 3D printing market will also have access to the same level of assurance the printing industry has. With Konica Minolta’s service, support and logistics capabilities, consumables replenishment infrastructure, and expertise, we hope to help drive the already rapid uptake of 3D printing in the local market,” explained Konica Minolta national manager Matthew Hunter.

Konica Minolta national manager, Matthew Hunter.

Konica Minolta national manager Matthew Hunter.

Konica Minolta is seeking to improve their existing service response time so that any 3D printer downtime is limited and consumable materials can be sent to their customers more quickly. They are also looking to boost their finance offerings to support smaller companies hoping to explore 3D printing technology and find out how it can fit within their businesses’ workflow. The national expansion into the Australian market is primarily being driven by these two challenges, which Hunter hopes will lead to strong growth over the coming year as a result.

3D Systems ProJet 660

3D Systems ProJet 660

“Naturally, we expect to be putting more even more resources into our 3D printing business as this demand occurs. Industries, such as manufacturing that have been using 3D printing since its introduction, have matured to a point where they are able to receive the desired output from these machines. However, 3D printing is no longer limited to just these markets. Other sectors looking to leverage the technology need to ensure that what is designed on a screen is equally impressive when printed in three dimensions. This can be a challenge as many 3D files do not always translate well to a 3D rendered object. Konica Minolta, along with 3D Systems, have the technical resources, workflows, and printers to help organisations overcome this challenge,” continued Hunter.

Konica Minolta is offering their Australian customers several 3D Systems options, including the ProJet 3500 Series Professional 3D Printers, which are idea for engineering, manufacturing, small-scale manufacturing, prototyping and the development of mechanical components. They also offer the ProJet 660 Professional 3D Printer, which is used to develop consumer products as well as being popular in the healthcare and education markets thanks to its photorealistic 3D printed models. A full line of materials, consumables and accessories is also available.

Global 3D Printer Market Up 19% in 2015 as Industrial and Commercial 3D Printer Sales Drop …

3dp_3dpsales2015_context_logoAs desktop 3D printer sales started to soften at the end of 2014 and into 2015, many in the industry were predicting that the public’s love affair with 3D printing was over. The sense was that the industry would revert back to its focus on professional-grade 3D printers while desktop 3D printers remained a novelty. Not only did Stratasys, the largest 3D printer manufacturer in the world, scale back their MakerBot line in response, but their closest competitor 3D Systems retired the Cube and Cubify to exit the desktop market entirely. While this left a sizable gap in the market, it was quickly filled by smaller desktop 3D printer manufacturers with sales figures that seem to be suggesting that it may not have been 3D printing that the public had tired of, but the companies who were selling them 3D printers.

According to new sales figures released today by IT market research company CONTEXT, the market for desktop or personal 3D printers increased 22% year-on-year in the 4th quarter of 2015 and rose 33% overall for the year. The end of 2015 also saw Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer XYZprinting extend its leading market share even further. Meanwhile, sub-$500,000 industrial and professional grade 3D printer sales were down 24% for the quarter and 9% overall for the year. At the same time metal 3D printing applications priced above $500,000 to $2,000,000 remained quite in demand, with the sector seeing a 35% jump in machines sold over last year.3dp_3dpsales2015_topfive_marketshare_revenue

According to the CONTEXT figures, all markets combined lead to actual worldwide shipments of 3D printers rising by 19% in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to a year ago. Of the 73,012 total 3D printer units that were shipped in the final quarter of last year, 96% of them were sub-$5,000 desktop or personal printers, which was a 22% increase over last year. With 2,907 units in total shipped, the 24% drop in sales for the more expensive models of industrial, professional or commercial grade 3D printers was quite a noticeable drop.

“This nascent side of the 3D printer market again saw great changes in 2015. Companies with a long standing presence in the additive manufacturing market scaled back their expectations for this newer, desktop side of the market, retooling to concentrate more on their core B2B competences. Other brands look to capitalize on these refocused efforts, however with start-ups, toy companies, IT companies and tool companies all competing in the market from different angles, yet all looking to get a piece of the continued strong demand for these devices,” explained the VP for Global Analysis at CONTEXT Chris Connery in his industry report.

CONTEXT 3D Printing Research Update

While the 2015 fourth quarter figures are dramatic enough, the entire year’s sales numbers show what an impact that last quarter had on the market. For 2015’s full calendar year, the 3D printer market saw an overall growth of 30% in terms of total printers shipped and 33% overall growth just for desktop and personal 3D printers, while 2015 also saw an overall drop of 9% in sales for industrial, professional or commercial 3D printers. It is likely that as the quality of desktop 3D printers has risen and prices have dropped, more small businesses are forgoing the more costly commercial 3D printers and their expensive service contracts for less expensive desktop options.

As expected, XYZprinting kept the top spot for global desktop 3D printer sales in the fourth quarter of 2015. They extended their market share up to 31% for the quarter and an impressive 21% for the entire calendar year. This coincides with the exit of 3D Systems from the desktop market and Stratasys scaling down MakerBot’s market presence. XYZprinting and other up and coming 3D printer companies like M3D, Ultimaker and FlashForge happily picked up the slack left by the industry’s larger manufacturers. The fourth quarter of 2015 also saw the largest crowdfunding campaign for a 3D printer ever with the Tiko 3D Printer Kickstarter bringing in nearly $3,000,000 in backing, pre-selling a total of 16,000 units.3dp_3dpsales2015_topfive_desktop

Most of the growth in the desktop 3D printer market trended towards lower-priced 3D printers like the $179 Tiko 3D printer, the $349 Micro from M3D or the $399 Printrbot Play. CONTEXT said that they expect the trend of lower-cost 3D printers to continue in 2016, with XYZprinting already showing off their new $269 printer expected this year and toy maker Mattel releasing a sub-$300 printer by the end of the year. Big name brands like Polaroid are also expected to enter the low-cost 3D printer market with their own printers at some point in 2016.

“Since the 3D Printer industry consists of a wide range of prices for the various types of 3D Printing technologies, the market is often benchmarked not only on units, but also on revenue from the sale of printers. Doing so helps to show the growing importance of Metal 3D Printing overall with 2015 seeing three of the top five vendors all mostly concentrating on metal additive manufacturing (EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam),” continued Connery.

3dp_3dpsales2015_topfive_professionalStratasys remained top dog on the industrial and professional side of the 3D printer market in the fourth quarter of 2015. They shipped 48% of all industrial and professional 3D printers in the fourth quarter, however they still sold 29% fewer printers than a year ago. While the industrial and professional side of the 3D printer market clearly struggled in 2015, the numbers may not be telling the full story. The CONTEXT report suggests that the sagging commercial market may simply be the industry holding back until several well-known brands finally bring their new printers into the sector. HP Inc will finally be releasing their hotly anticipated Multi Jet 3D printer this year, while Canon and Ricoh are also expected to reveal their new commercial 3D printers.

2016 is expected to continue the trend of the global 3D printer market expanding, with several healthy areas of the market continuing to grow. CONTEXT is predicting that the total global market for 3D printers, 3D printing materials, 3D printer accessories and 3D printing services will grow from a $4.1 billion industry in 2015 to a $16.2 billion industry by the year 2020.  

Ossis targets UK market to expand sales of 3D implants

Article – BusinessDesk

Sept. 4 (BusinessDesk) – Ossis Ltd, which uses 3D printing technology to custom design titanium implants for patients with severely damaged bones and joints, is expanding outside of Australasia to the UK.

Ossis targets UK market to expand sales of 3D titanium implants

By Fiona Rotherham

Sept. 4 (BusinessDesk) – Ossis Ltd, which uses 3D printing technology to custom design titanium implants for patients with severely damaged bones and joints, is expanding outside of Australasia to the UK.

The Christchurch-based company this year doubled monthly sales of the implants to four or five across New Zealand and Australia. It’s now in talks with a UK distributor to enter that market in the next few months, giving it a springboard to Europe, the second-largest market after the US.

“We’d be hoping to sell upwards of 100 a year easily in the UK market over time,” said general manager Madeleine Martin. The company will eventually look to place staff on the ground in Europe to liaise with the orthopaedic surgeons who make the call on whether to use the products, she said.

The US, the world’s biggest market for the implants, has a different registration system for medical devices and it’s likely to be two-to-three years before the company heads there, Martin said.

“Our goal is to be the world leader in this technology and although we currently still are, we need to get ourselves out there,” she said.

There have been 70 operations to date using Ossis’ custom-built designs for hips and knees, all of which were successful, with a further three pending, said Martin. Ossis had the world’s most extensive clinical data for custom 3D implants, which should help win credibility in other markets.

The privately-owned company was founded in 2007 by directors James Burn and Paul Morrison. In March, additional angel investors bought about 20 percent of Ossis’ parent company, Ti Holdings, to provide additional capital for growth.

Martin said that funding, along with a Ministry for Business Innovation & Employment targeted research science grant of $4 million over four years, was sufficient to fund the company’s growth for the near future. It has also had Callaghan Innovation student grants that part-fund undergraduate and PhD university students to work in the business.

A significant amount of revenue is going into research and development, with 10 research projects underway into extending the implants’ use, including other parts of the hip, knee and spine. The company has also helped plastic surgeons with 3D printed plastic moulds that can be used to aid facial reconstructions.

The custom-designed implants are as much as $3,000 dearer than off-the-shelf applications, meaning the Ossis product is typically only used when the surgery goes wrong or in complicated cases.

But Martin said Ossis has just completed a cost-effectiveness survey that showed its products were 15 percent more cost effective than the off-the-shelf alternative, when contributing factors such as length of surgery, hospital stay, rehabilitation time, and failure rates, were taken into account.

As the technology improves production times will be cut further and she said the three to four weeks for delivery is already typically within the timeframe patients are waiting for their surgery.

(BusinessDesk is funded by Callaghan Innovation for coverage on the commercialisation of innovation).


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3D Printers for home-use to exceed 1 million unit sales globally by 2018, says Juniper Research

Press Release

New research forecasts the size and shape of the consumer 3D printing market

Hampshire, UK – 22nd April 2014: New findings from leading hi-tech analysts, Juniper Research, reveal that sales of consumer 3D printers will exceed 1 million units by 2018, rising from just over an estimated 44,000 this year.

While shipments are at relatively low levels, representing a limited opportunity in the medium term, Juniper expects them to increase significantly beyond the five-year period. This will be a result of an ever widening scope of applicability, driven by the entry and growth of the more established printing vendors, such as HP. This in turn will be coupled with a more attractive pricing proposition for consumers.

Expansion of Use Cases

The new report, Consumer 3D Printing & Scanning: Service Models, Devices & Opportunities 2014-2018, notes that it is still very early days for the consumer offering, and the technology has yet to really capture the consumer’s imagination. Killer applications with the appropriate eco-system of software, apps and materials have yet to be identified and communicated.

The established printing vendors have also yet to ‘show their cards’, but niche and novelty applications are on the increase. For instance, companies such as Hasbro and Hersheys are working with 3D printing vendors to develop unique applications for consumer use.

Hype or Long-term Opportunity?

The report also observed that with the widespread technological awareness amongst consumers, it is now much easier to generate interest, and possibly hype, for new products and applications. This however, does not always translate into shipped products.

Report author Nitin Bhas added: “Educating and motivating the public on the idea of 3D printing, to create everyday objects is critical for the long-term success of this segment. Killer applications and content will be the key drivers – something unique and personalised, which is not available in stores already”.

The whitepaper,  ‘3D Printing ~ Cutting through the Hype’ is available to download from the Juniper website together with further details of the full report and Interactive Forecast Excel (IFxl).  Juniper Research’s highly granular IFxls enable clients to manipulate forecast charts and tables, perform what-if analysis; and compare select markets.

Juniper Research provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.

For further details please contact Sam Smith, Press Relations

T: +44(0)1256 830001


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Juniper Research Ltd
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3D Printing Enables A. O. Smith to Cut Time-To-Market, Reduce Development Costs, Drive Higher Sales

Today’s blog is by Julie Reece, 3D Systems Director of Marketing Communications.

I thoroughly enjoy hearing new stories from our channel partners and my sales colleagues about organizations that that reply on our 3D printing technology to grow their businesses. Here’s a story about A. O. Smith Corporation, a leading global manufacturer of water heating equipment. A. O. Smith is creating more attractive and energy-efficient water heaters through its advanced new product development process, which integrates 3D printing solutions from the company’s full-color professional 3D printers.

Using a ZPrinter® to create prototypes in-house, A. O. Smith is shaving weeks off product development, saving substantial cost as well as time. This enables them to iterate more productively and thoroughly refine designs, according to the R&D team.

“Instead of commissioning aluminum molds or sending out to busy contractors for plastic models, we can produce our own high-resolution color prototypes for a fraction of the cost,” said A. O. Smith CAD Supervisor, Steve Wood, from the company’s Johnson City, TN, manufacturing facility. “When a trial design isn’t perfect, we quickly revise it and print another 3D model, or we create several different prototypes at the same time. Our ZPrinter gives us the flexibility to make real-time changes and react quickly to our customers’ demands.”

An aluminum mold, including setup and prototype production, can be costly, consuming as much as six weeks from the company’s design cycle before the first part is produced. Worse, if the prototype doesn’t work, a significant design revision can require a new mold and another cycle of waiting. With its ZPrinter 650® 3D printer, A. O. Smith can print multiple prototypes reflecting a wide range of design alternatives in a few hours at a significant cost reduction.

A. O. Smith expected the ZPrinter® to pay for itself quickly, but is happily finding that the return on the ZPrinter investment exceeds even its expectations. “Because we’re finding it increasingly valuable as time goes on – and thus are using it more,” stated A. O. Smith CAD Operator, Robert Anest, “it is sure to pay for itself sooner than we thought.”

In addition to printing prototypes, A. O. Smith is printing molds for the production of plastic molded parts – again avoiding costly aluminum molds. According to Wood, “To produce prototypes from our own molds, we’re spending less money and time.”

The integration of A. O. Smith’s ZPrinter® 650 3D printer has not just been a cost savings. “It’s both a unique and an effective sales tool,” said Wood. “Our customers and partners love them – for one thing, they don’t have to lug around a 200-pound water heater. And we’re getting great feedback from everyone involved.”

Do you have a great success story using 3D Systems 3D printing technology that you’d like to share? Post it here or email me at