Business / #ForbesBusiness



June 26, 2019,   11:56 AM

Big Bucks For 3-D Printing: 3-D Printing Unicorn Carbon Raises Another $260 Million At Valuation Of $2.4 Billion

Amy Feldman

FULL BIO

3d printing

Carbon, the 3-D printing unicorn, said today that it had raised more than $260 million, at a valuation of more than $2.4 billion, led by Madrone Capital Partners and Baillie Gifford. That funding—Carbon’s Series E and likely its last investment before going public—makes the company the highest-valued, venture-backed 3-D printing company at a time when the technology for industrial uses is booming.

“Cracking the code on how to take 3-D printing into manufacturing is the key here,” Joe DeSimone, Carbon’s cofounder and chief executive officer, told Forbes during a recent visit to its Redwood City, California, headquarters.

During the meeting, DeSimone wore black Adidas Alphaedge 4D running shoes with light green midsoles 3-D printed in partnership with his company. He wears the shoes—which sell for $300 retail—everyday, he said. “I throw them in the washing machine once a week,” he said.

That partnership with Adidas is one reason investors are excited about six-year-old Carbon and its 3-D printing technology, called Digital Light Synthesis. The midsoles are made of elastomer and feature a lightweight, latticework design that is only possible with 3-D printing technology. “We said to ourselves, ‘If we can make Adidas successful, and it is a high-volume consumer product, the world would be our oyster,’” DeSimone said. Last year, the partnership made 100,000 midsoles; the company hopes to produce millions within two years.

Building off the running shoes, Carbon is launching 3-D helmets with Riddell that feature custom 3-D printed liners for protection. Those helmets could extend from NFL players down to the high school, or even pee-wee, level, he said. DeSimone’s long-term vision includes football helmets, baseball helmets, military helmets, riding gear, bicycle seats and the like. “All of a sudden you see an opportunity to replace foam with elastomer lattices in the protection marketplaces,” he said.

The company‘s other big market is dental, an area where 3-D printing has made inroads with custom-fit aligners. Carbon works on aligners and dentures (made of FDA-cleared materials) in partnership with Dentsply Sirona. DeSimone said that the company is now pushing further into the medical market with a partnership with Johnson & Johnson on 3-D printed bioabsorbable polymers that could be used in surgery.

All told, Carbon, which operates on a subscription model, has an installed base approaching 1,000 printers, DeSimone said. Its larger printers have an annual contract value (including resin) of some $200,000, while the smaller ones have a contract value of $70,000, he said. Forbes estimates that Carbon will surpass $100 million in revenue this year.

With the new funding—which had been expected since April—Carbon plans to increase its research and development efforts and expand to Europe and Asia. One area of focus: The development of recyclable and compostable materials that could be 3-D-printed.

“Our customers are making the un-makeable,” DeSimone said. “They are making these lattices and replacing foam and consolidating parts. They are making better products than you could by molding, and that is powerful.”

Today, 3-D printing is a tiny piece of the $13 trillion global manufacturing market. But DeSimone and other 3-D printing entrepreneurs, such as Desktop Metal’s Ric Fulop and Formlabs’ Maxim Lobovsky, are working to increase its traction based on the technology’s ability to create parts that are lighter and more efficient than could be produced with other technologies. Carbon, which DeSimone founded in 2013 with his son Philip DeSimone, now the company’s chief customer officer, has raised more than $680 million to pursue its expansion plans.

While Carbon’s latest funding is the largest investment in 3-D printing to date, money has been flowing into 3-D printing companies as new technologies have increased their presence on the factory floor. Earlier this year, Desktop Metal, which makes metal 3-D printers, raised $160 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion, while Markforged, which makes 3-D printers for carbon and metal, raised $82 million at a valuation of $820 million. That’s a stark difference from five years ago: In 2014, 3-D printing companies garnered just $100 million in venture funding, according to data from PitchBook.



Recommended Articles