This month has been busy for Continuous Composites.
If you’re not familiar with Continuous Composites, they are one of the very few 3D print companies offering the ability to print parts with continuous carbon fiber, along with Anisoprint, Markforged and a couple of others.
The Idaho-based company uses a process that’s a bit different. Whereas most other “CCF” 3D printing approaches use thermoplastic filaments, Continuous Composites uses a rapidly cured thermoset material.
Their “CF3D” technology involves a moving toolhead that deposits the fibers that have been coated with the thermoset material. They explain:
“CF3D technology begins with a continuous dry fiber that is impregnated in situ with a tailorable, snap curing thermosetting resin delivered by the end effector. The end effector is moved by a motion platform driven by proprietary software. Parts are printed with precision and optimized for the highest performance using continuous fibers.”
“CF3D end effectors handle the material from start to finish. The end effectors impregnate the fibers in situ and cure the fiber + resin combination instantly upon deposition. The process leverages best in class Numeric controllers providing high accuracy and precision printing with continuous fibers.”
This month there are two big news items from the company.
First, they announced they’ve raised a whopping US$17M in new investment. This is an enormous amount, as their total raise to date is only US$20.7M: the current raise is itself more than 4X all previous investment in the company.
The company explained the new funding is to be used to commercialize CF3D, which explains why we haven’t seen them previously. They said:
“This round of financing provides Continuous Composites with the growth capital to commercialize its proprietary Continuous Fiber 3D Printing (CF3D) product offerings, as well as advance and protect the company’s expansive patent portfolio.”
That last point leads us to the second action item from Continuous Composites this month: they’ve launched a legal action against Markforged for patent infringement.
Markforged produces several 3D printers capable of using continuous carbon fiber, and Continuous Composites believes they are infringing. They explain:
“Continuous Composites asserts the infringement of four patents that include process and hardware claims, which are core to the underlying operation of Markforged’s flagship continuous fiber printers. These four patents are part of a larger family of nine patents and two pending applications having priority back to 2012 that precede the founding of Markforged in 2013 and the release of its first commercially available continuous fiber printer in 2016.”
I will look into these patents in a future story.
This is not good news for Markforged, which just recently became a publicly traded company. The news could affect their stock price, and we’ll be looking further at that in Sunday’s valuation report.
Continuous Composites has a unique CCF 3D printing process and now they’re fully funded and ready for action. It looks like their first action is to leverage those patents, and depending on what’s in them, they might be targeting other continuous carbon fiber 3D printer manufacturers in the future.