Oct 11, 2017 | By Benedict

Illinois 3D printing company Impossible Objects has raised $6.4 million in a Series A investment round led by OCA Ventures. Investors included DEA Fund Partners, Mason Avenue Investments, Huizenga Capital Management, and Inflection Equity Partners.

Impossible Objects, the company behind composite-based additive manufacturing (CBAM) and the eagerly awaited Model One 3D printer, is clearly doing something right. Despite not having a 3D printer on the market yet, the Illinois company, founded in 2009, has now raised a total of more than $9 million from keen investors.

A hefty chunk of that figure comes from Impossible Objects’ latest funding round, a Series A led by Chicago-based venture capital firm OCA Ventures. OCA was joined on its splurge by IDEA Fund Partners, a technology-focused early stage venture capital firm, with other financial contributions coming from Mason Avenue Investments, Huizenga Capital Management, and Inflection Equity Partners.

“We’ve seen incredible momentum as more corporations are looking to additive manufacturing for production purposes and not just prototypes or low volumes,” commented Robert Swartz, founder and Chairman of Impossible Objects. “These companies need strong parts that can be made fast. We’re delighted to work with our investment partners to meet this massive opportunity.”

So what inspired these investors to pump money into the relatively untested Impossible Objects? New and exciting technology, in short.

CBAM, the unique 3D printing process behind the Model One 3D printer, uses high-speed 2D graphics technologies to build ultra-strong, lightweight parts at scale. It even works with a range of composite materials like carbon fiber, Kevlar, and fiberglass, as well as PEEK and other high-performance polymers.

Perhaps Impossible Objects CEO Larry Kaplan is best equipped to explain how CBAM works.

“The process involves feeding 2D sheets of composite materials into what is essentially an inkjet printer,” Kaplan explained. “Ordinary [inkjet] 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.”

It’s this unusual material deposition system that’s had investors and potential customers flocking to Impossible Objects’ door, with the ability to print with ultra-strong materials clearly a huge draw for customers in the industrial, automotive, aerospace, and defense sectors, to name but a few.

“Impossible Objects is leading the way by using its technology to transform how the largest corporations manufacture," added OCA Ventures General Partner Ian Drury. “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.”

And while the Model One won't be available commercially until 2018, an early version of the machine was unveiled earlier this year. Impossible Objects even earned its first big industrial client on the back of that demonstrator, with product solutions company Jabil Inc. eager to get a piece of the Illinois 3D printing company. Boeing-owned Aurora Flight Sciences is also using an early version of the Model One. (Other companies looking to take part in the Model One pilot program need to get in touch with Impossible Objects.)

Those potential customers have good reason to pick up the phone too, because the Model One is picking up awards before most customers have even had a chance to use it. The unique 3D printer won the Innovation Award at the RAPID + TCT 3D printing event for the service or product that will have the greatest impact on the industry. Apparently, however, the technology is going to get even better.

“We’re just scratching the surface at how fast we can build parts and materials at scale,” said Larry Kaplan, CEO of Impossible Objects. “This funding will only accelerate our ability to develop our technology and roll it out to the biggest companies worldwide.”

Might the Model One’s presence on our 12 high-end 3D printers shaping the future of additive manufacturing have helped drum up this multi-million-dollar investment? It really is impossible to say.

Companies not involved in the Model One pilot program will have to wait until 2018 to get their hands on the CBAM 3D printer.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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