Why the startup has raised so much money; why we should care about expiring patents; and why Carbon3D still has a long way to go before they revolutionize manufacturing

It’s not often that a startup announces its presence in the way that Carbon3D has in the last four weeks. It added to that story today, announcing a $10 million investment from Autodesk’s Spark Investment Fund.

In addition to this latest announcement, Carbon3D’s emergence into the public consciousness over the last month has included:

“Disruptive products require disruptive channels” – Christensen and Raynor, The Innovator’s Solution

The importance of distribution channels is often overlooked when analyzing the evolution of disruptive technologies, however, few truly disruptive companies grow through traditional distribution channels. In many cases, the growth of the disruptive distribution channel paves the way for disruptive companies – allowing them to bloom by reaching non-traditional customers and eventually changing the way their industries work.

Over the last few months, Manufacturing Disruption has published a series of articles describing opportunities created in the additive manufacturing / 3D printing industry and how VC firms can capitalize on these opportunities. The genesis of the research began with an independent project I began at London Business School during my Executive MBA and the more I got into the topic, the more promise it showed.

My research has shown four distinct strategies for value creation and capture arising from additive manufacturing technology, with corresponding opportunities across the venture capital industry, from small seed funds to corporate VC funds, all the way up to major top-tier firms. Each strategy is summarized below and includes links to in-depth articles:

Venture Capital Strategies for Additive Manufacturing (Part 4)

The long term success of any manufacturing technique is greatly coupled to users’ access and ability to make the most of the technique’s inherent advantages. Additive manufacturing / 3D printing is no different. So while the previous investment strategies outlined on Manufacturing Disruption (The (Printed) Full Stack, Reinventing the Hardware Startup and Innovating Internally – Corporate Venture Capital) focused on leveraging technological advantages, the final strategy is all about expanding access to additive manufacturing and helping users unleash its power. This strategy is approachable to many would-be entrepreneurs and is particularly attractive from the venture capitalist’s perspective as it is flexible, scalable and conforms to existing investment strategies already employed by many prominent VCs.

On December 19th, metamaterials startup Echodyne announced a $15 million Series A investment round led by Bill Gates and Madrona Venture Group.  As the fourth spinout from Intellectual Ventures, Echodyne is seeking to commercialize novel metamaterials-based radar technology, whose origins trace back to research at Duke University and UC San Diego. The investment demonstrates the building of commercial momentum for the technology and is good impetus to define and discuss metamaterials, identifying why they will be important, especially in the context of advanced manufacturing:

Metamaterials: “Beyond Nature”

The exact definition for metamaterials can vary depending on the source, but it is important to realize that the term “metamaterial” does not refer to one specific material, but rather to a design concept for materials.

Venture Capital Strategies for Additive Manufacturing (Part 3)

After examining the Full Stack and Reinventing the Hardware Startup, Manufacturing Disruption continues to explore emerging venture capital opportunities in the additive manufacturing space by taking a look inside traditional manufacturing companies.  A number of large companies, such as Lockheed Martin and GE Aviation, are already embracing the technology, but countless others are still waiting.