The Week in Advanced Manufacturing Funding – January 30, 2015

3D-Pen Startup, CreoPop, Raises Financing Round Led by 500 Startups

On 26 January, Singapore-based CreoPop announced a new financing round led by 500 Startups, with participation from Singapore-based venture capital firm Ruvento, in addition to a number of private co-investors. Investment in CreoPop continues 500 Startups’ interest in 3D printing, highlighted by the successful acquisition of Makerbot by Stratasys for a reported $400 million, and joins other printer-based startups – pinshape and AstroPrint – hoping to follow in Makerbot’s successful footsteps.

The Ink is Mightier than the Pen

CreoPop joins 3Doodler in the 3D pen market, differentiating itself with its so-called “cool ink”. Rather than using heated extrusion (as is the case with 3Doodler), the CreoPop pen uses photosensitive polymers which are cured (using light) at the tip of the pen. The result is a pen that doesn’t need to be heated in order to operate – a feature CreoPop is hoping will appeal to parents.

Having spent far too many hours as a child working on school projects with a trusty hot glue gun, in my honest opinion, I don’t think the operating temperature (and fumes) are going to be CreoPop’s chief selling point. What I am impressed with, however, is the range of inks that CreoPop offers: colors, glow in the dark, glittering, temperature sensitive, aromatic, elastic, body paint and magnetic. (In comparison, 3Doodler offers the colors of the rainbow in two types of plastic.) What CreoPop has realized is that a paintbrush isn’t worth too much without good paint; safety is just a bonus.

Creating a New Segment

CreoPop and 3Doodler pens have created a new segment (at the very bottom) for the additive manufacturing / 3D printing market. They are effectively selling 3D printer heads without the rest of the printer. From what I have seen on YouTube, the quality of the products made using the pens isn’t too impressive, but for around $100, the pens offer entry into the 3D printing world for children and budget conscious techies who aren’t interested in CAD programs or direct digital manufacturing.

The most interesting innovation will most likely be found in the inks (rather than the pens). This is where the profit will be made (razor-razorblade business model), so it makes sense that CreoPop and 3Doodler have such a variety of choices. Hopefully, innovation in this segment will make its way up to pricier segments and more complex printers.

Analyzing the Funding Round

TechInAsia is reporting that the round garnered commitments of $892,000 after a successful Indiegogo campaign netted pre-sales in excess of $200,000. Depending on the equity stake taken by investors, the deal values CreoPop between $2.25 and $6 million: 11 – 30 times the revenue generated from the Indiegogo campaign. Those numbers may seem a bit high, but real value will be generated once people get the pens in their hands and start burning (not literally, of course) through those ink cartridges.