David studied nuclear engineering at the University of California. He founded non-profit Ace Monster Toys and builds 3D printers as a hobby.
VP Marketing & Ops
Head of Production
Quality Control Chemist
Why people love us
Because they help existing 3D printers produce stuff that's actually useful, not just fragile prototypes. Entire industries are impacted. Right now, custom jewelers can replace $250,000 systems with a few thousand dollar 3D printer and MadeSolid's best selling product: FireCast. Next up? Dental crowns, prosthetics, circuit boards, organs, and more.
But the vision is what excites us. MadeSolid aims to be the industry standard. Materials are tightly intertwined with print heads and the software that controls them. We're not saying MadeSolid is Microsoft in 1976. But the industry feels like 1976. Proprietary and vertically integrated systems are being replaced with open platforms, with multiple companies specializing in different parts of the stack. If MadeSolid locks up IP around new materials that become industry standards, they have a shot at being the dominant player in 3D printing.
Some of our investors
77+ investors since our founding
We've been called the "Mad Scientists of 3D Printing". That's pretty accurate.
What does your company do?
3M for 3D Printing, turning 3D Printers into factories that make useful stuff through material inputs.
Where will your company be in 5 years?
Our Mission is to enable anything to be made, anywhere, by anyone, effortlessly with materials that scale from 1 to 100Billion. Any product that makes a noise when you drop it is printable and uses materials. In 5 years we want to ship 1 Billion grams of product.
Why did you start MadeSolid?
We wanted to make it incredibly easy for people to turn ideas into real things.
When we first started 3D printing, we had a lot of failures with the tech. We realized that everyone was working on software or machines, but no one had taken a close look at materials. It was all commodity plastics. Why?
We wanted more than prototypes; we wanted functional objects. For instance, a part for my car, that I print out, place it in the car, and just go. Not some prototype that sits on a desk, but real world things.
We needed better materials to make that world a reality. With our backgrounds in chemistry and materials science, we realized we were the best ones to make that happen.
Can you explain the problem with current materials?
Absolutely! Right now, the state of the art is using the same stuff that is used to make disposable sporks - that is what people are shoving through their machines, at an extremely high mark-up, and not really being able to make anything functional.
One of our customers, for example, wanted to make a mounting bracket for this new type of computer in their car. But, the problem was, in the hot sun, the car gets very, very warm, and that bracket had completely melted... during their demos to investors! But if they had used our material… We care about things like that. It would have been an in-use product. Not just a prototype that was just for looks, but a functional item that won't just melt on you.
Also, when MadeSolid was initially started, we were doing software for scientists, that let them turn these molecular structures that they would use in their research into actual physical versions of it that they could hold and manipulate. And, as we got orders, and the complexity went up, the orders began being cancelled by the service bureaus that we sending our orders to, such as Shapeways and Ponoko. Looking into the problem, it turns out, that it was a materials problem. Essentially, the state of the art at the time was springing or dipping these objects in superglue after they had been printed to hold them together.
So we shut that version of the company down and mothballed the software. And I joined this hacker space to start working on the chemistry, and that's where I met my co-founder David Rorex. We began hacking together, on making better materials for 3D printing just so we could make more cool stuff. We made a lot of progress and decided to incorporate because we had some pretty damn good results over at the warehouse.
Who are your main customers?
On the consumer end, you have MakerBot users printing chotchkies and bobble heads. They are not our target. Our main customers are engineering firms and prosumers who want durable 3D prints, often used under mechanical load in real products.
For prosumers, their job depends on 3D printing. They willing to pay premium price to get a product that lets them use 3D printing in their workflow.
For industrial customers, when there's less than a thousand units of some product, it is not always cost effective to injection mold it. It's just easier to 3D print it.
Why are your materials superior?
On objective measures - like strength, durability, and surface tension, we're clearly superior. That's easy to measure.
But while we are clearly better on scientific tests, it's the intangible that's important. Our customers love the feeling of the object. Not the way that it looks, but the way it feels like a real product, as opposed to a cheap piece of plastic. You literally have to touch it to know the difference.
Also important, is how well does it print? Is it reliable and consistent? We also have some of the highest resolution materials on the market right now. If you want a product that looks exactly like the digital file, that's what you need.
What's your fastest growing product line?
FireCast. It lets people like jewelers to do things like 3d print a mold, pour in some gold or silver, and then entirely burn away the original print. So you get custom jewelry in a day... from a few thousand dollar 3D printer.
We launched FireCast in July. By the end of September, it became our largest revenue source, accounting for 30% of all our revenue year to date.
The problem with FireCast right now is there is so much demand that it has been back ordered and then we're trying to reiterate on the next version. We were mixing everything in house, and then demand outstripped our ability to do that. So now we have to find contractors.
What's the next big industry you are going after?
We are still focusing on the jewelry market right now. It's the fastest growing segment of 3D printing, and we're still getting handle on the demand for our FireCast product.
The overall jewelry industry which is worth around 200 billion annually, and the market is headed towards greater customization. As an analog, in the world of clothing, fast fashion has taken off very, very, quickly.
Jewelry has lagged, mainly because it is very hard to iterate. You have to carve these designs, you have to wax, and create a wax injection mould, and then you are going to make it cheap enough, you runs of hundreds of thousands of items to get it to every department store in the world. So, it's slow to change in terms of fashion.
There are a lot of smaller shops now, that realize that they can buy these off the shelf 3d printers for around 3 or 4 grand, and if they have the material that they could burn out, you know, to pour in the gold or silver, whatever, to create the shape, they can use it immediately. And that's why they love FireCast.
Before FireCast, jewelers had to invest in very expensive integrated proprietary solutions costing upwards of a quarter-million dollars. Now you can do the exact same thing with FireCast and a couple thousand dollar machine. It massively expanded the market for jewelers being able to jump in and add 3D printing.
After jewelry, what industries are low hanging fruit?
Like we did with jewelry, we look for industries where professionals could easily use 3D printing if there was a superior material that could be used in an existing machine.
Similarly, biomedical has a low barrier for 3D printing. Producing crowns and dental structures is a market we'll enter in the short term.
Longer term, medical printing is huge. People are looking to print out customized arm braces and things like that.
We also have some efforts underway right now on printed electronics. It is going to let people make metal at very low temperatures, with a machine that is not complicated - you literally change one component for around 50 cents.
Who are your competitors?
For MakerBot-type printers, there are a large amount of people reselling the same filament from China that you can find in Alibaba and just putting a new label on it. Our only real competitor in that market is Tallman and he sells nylons and other engineering plastics. However, they aren't optimized for printability, which ours are.
For more prosumer SLA printers like the Form1, a lot of the printer makers prefer a vertical business model, so they are producing their own materials. But there are a couple small start ups like MakerJuice, and Spot-A resins in Europe.
No one has been able to catch up with us in terms of performance. We are the best in the field.
Will manufacturers compete with propriety solutions?
The 3D printing industry started extremely integrated and locked in, but now we are seeing a trend towards openness. Particularly with Autodesk and their open printer. That's going to let them leapfrog other platforms, and it is going to force everybody to become open. You are open or you die.
You could look at a historical analogy, with computers. They were huge mainframes that only large defense contractors and banks and such could afford. That proprietary model disappeared as the microcomputers took over. Also, being able to exchange both your programs and your data in formats that weren't tied to the mainframe were important.
At least a few times a week, we have small printer manufacturers contact us, wanting to make sure their printers are "compatible with FireCast"... because they then sell more machines. Companies that don't do that, particularly small hardware companies, they're dead if they are not using some industry standard. Our goal is to be that industry standard, no matter what material we make.
Besides materials, what's holding the industry back?
Software sucks right now. These machines have to generate tool path code to move the print heads or move the lasers, or what not. All of them have some level of tool path generation, and the way that is done now, in the open source world is absolutely horrible. Most of the software that is derived from that inheritance is also crap. It is absolutely horrible. So having, a sort of merger between the understanding of the physical way things are printed and the materials is needed, and none of the software does that right now. I'd say more, but I don't want to reveal much about our plans there.
What keeps you up at night?
Business model stuff. We want to be more than just a company that just sells materials, dull materials, but materials that are married to the software--that's what keeps me up. Also, patents. We have more potential patents than we have funding to pursue them. That keeps me up a lot. We could launch a lot of products, but we don't want to launch something that we can't get IP around and to be completely honest, we can't afford to get the IP around all the things we've done in R&D right now. We have products that are literally sitting around waiting. That is our biggest challenge.
What's your ambition for MadeSolid?
We want to print everything. I want to own the entire 3D printing market, starting from the materials. I'm not against going into machines or software to make that happen. Materials is just the beginning for us, because this is a problem that had to be solved, and no one else was doing it.
One of the complaints against the 3D printing industry is how little these companies spend on R&D and they're now in deep crap, because we have companies like me, that are going to eat their lunch, whether it's software, machines, or materials.
MadeSolid is conducting a Regulation D offering via Wefunder Advisors LLC. CRD Number: #167803.
MadeSolid has officially released its Vorex Resin – a tough material for your SLA 3D Printer. After conducting many mechanical tests and comparing it to other consumer-grade resins, we are very happy with the results. The material has better elongation, flex, tensile, and toughness which will allow your prints to withstand workloads better. It is perfect for functional prototypes, testing wearables, and gadget covers.
In addition to improving the performance of the 3D printer as the resin runs through it — which MadeSolid tested by simulating regular printing via printing 100 micron bars, each 800 layers tall, on several 3D vat-based printers — the reformulation enhanced the printing resolution of final products. While the original formula was already one of the sharpest available on the market, the updated resin blew all expectations out of the water.
Spending some time in the workshop once again this summer, Al Dean has been exploring the next generation of 3D printers and comes to the conclusion that an open market is what’s driving the industry forward
Well the tests are in and the proof is undeniable, the MS resin produces impressive detail and consistent surface finish. A contributing factor is the lower viscosity of the MS resin that seems to aid the printer's peeling process, resulting in less failed prints and cleaner layer lines.
3D printing is exploding in popularity. According to Canalys, the market for 3D printing services and materials will grow from $2.5 billion in 2014 to $10.8 billion in 2018. If MadeSolid is able to satisfy this growing demand with a superior product, they will have the opportunity to play a key role in the transition of 3D printing from a commodity product to a serious consumer and business tool.
Even with the influx of affordable SLA 3D printers, there was yet another thing missing; the availability of resins created specifically for the casting of metal jewelry. That is, until now. MadeSolild, Inc. has announced today that they are releasing their new FireCast Resin. According to the company, this new material is the first consumer-grade resin formulated specifically for the casting of metal parts.
MadeSolid’s new FireCast resin is the first resin engineered specifically to be melted away as part of the casting process. You create a high-heat mold of your 3d print, then use a super hot oven to essentially evaporate the print within. After about 11 hours in the heat, the 3D printed model is completely burned away, leaving behind no ash or residue to screw things up.
When you survey the 3D printing landscape you find that almost all innovation is focused on printers and software. Yet all printers use consumables and we all have spools of PLA or ABS filament where color seems to pass for innovation. “Not good enough!” thought the founders of MadeSolid who organized last Fall to innovate on 3D printing consumables.
This year's first group of hopefuls, who presented Tuesday in Mountain View, included a service to help passengers get reimbursed by airlines for delayed flights, a new technology to make batteries last longer and a startup that's creating new materials for 3D printing.
Based in Emeryville, Calif., MadeSolid has shipped its materials to 25 countries, reporting 16% growth week over week. Pickens says the company has 80% profit margins. "The ultimate value in a 3-D printer isn't the printer," he says. "It's in the output, and the output is ultimately determined by the input: the bits and atoms."
With a long term vision for advancing the capabilities of 3D printers through better materials, MadeSolid’s latest addition to its portfolio has been developed in response to a high demand for a reliable but more competitively priced casting resin from designers and jewellers that are working with prosumer level SL 3D printers such as the Form 1. To date, there haven’t been many options and MadeSolid saw an opportunity to develop a formula that filled that gap.
MadeSolid actually started out with the intention of being a 3D printing service, but quickly realized that the fail rates of 3D printers was just too high for them to do it at scale. With backgrounds in chemistry, nuclear engineering, and business (quite the combination), the company’s three co-founders set out to tackle what they saw as an overlooked weakness: the materials used to 3D print.
3D printing materials startup MadeSolid has just launched PET+, a strong and flexible material for 3D printers. According to the company, the PET+ is derived from a different strain than existing PET filaments on the market. PET+ is stronger than many ABS filaments and has the high print success rate of PLA. It is ideal for functional objects that need to combine toughness with flexibility, such as phone cases, wearables, robotics, and mechanical parts.
It's all about the materials when it comes to the quality of the final output of a 3D printing project. To that end, the team at MadeSolid are working on developing high-quality resins and plastics for 3D printers.
Stereolithographic (SL) home 3D printer users: do you feel frustrated with failed prints? Feel limited by slim colour selection? MadeSolid – a team composed of makers – feel your pain, thus have developed their own reportedly high quality resin with a broad range of colour options at a very reasonable price.
October 21, 2013
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