Carbon’s next partnership is a 3D-printed bike seat from Specialized – gpgmail


Carbon has been a kind of shining beacon in the world of 3D printing. In June, the company raised $260 million, bringing its valuation just shy of $2.4 billion. The company’s rapid growth is thanks in no small part to some high-profile partnerships, led by big names like Adidas and Riddell.

This morning, Carbon announced another partnership that’s a no-brainer in the wake of those sneaker and helmet deals. The company is teaming up with bicycle manufacturer Specialized for a 3D-printed bike seat.

“Carbon and Specialized share a mission to challenge the acceptable, create the extraordinary, and ultimately make products that enable people to push the limits of what’s possible,” Carbon CEO Joseph DeSimone said in a release tied to the announcement. “Our partnership with Specialized represents not only a breakthrough in bike saddle technology, but also our companies’ shared commitment to drive meaningful change by making products that improve human health and well-being.”

Certainly there’s room for a 3D-printed breakthrough in the world of bike saddles. The issue may be less pressing than what the NFL is currently dealing with on the traumatic brain front, but Carbon makes a pretty compelling argument for how its technology can be put to good use here.

The S-Works Power Saddle utilizes the same lattice-structured Elastomeric Polyurethane as the Adidas FutureCraft sneakers and Riddell SpeedFlex helmet. Per Carbon:

Carbon Digital Light SynthesisTM (DLSTM) technology made it possible to develop a lattice design that enables the saddle to rebound quickly, giving riders the experience of having a ‘suspension’ for their sit bones. The saddle not only disperses pressure, but also significantly improves breathability. Ultimately, our innovation is designed to result in less pain and fewer injuries for riders, leading to better health and performance.

It’s easy to imagine the companies utilizing the technology to create a more bespoke experience, tailored to riders’ bodies. For now, however, they’re focused on more scalable manufacturing, with the seats arriving at some point next year.


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Silicone 3D printing startup Spectroplast spins out of ETHZ with $1.5M – gpgmail


3D printing has become commonplace in the hardware industry, but because few materials can be used for it easily, the process rarely results in final products. A Swiss startup called Spectroplast hopes to change that with a technique for printing using silicone, opening up all kinds of applications in medicine, robotics, and beyond.

Silicone is not very bioreactive and of course can be made into just about any shape while retaining strength and flexibility. But the process for doing so is generally injection molding, great for mass producing lots of identical items but not so great when you need a custom job.

And it’s custom jobs that ETH Zurich’s Manuel Schaffner and Petar Stefanov have in mind. Hearts, for instance, are largely similar but the details differ, and if you were going to get a valve replaced, you’d probably prefer yours made to order rather than straight off the shelf.

“Replacement valves currently used are circular, but do not exactly match the shape of the aorta, which is different for each patient,” said Schaffner in a university news release. Not only that but they may be a mixture of materials, some of which the body may reject.

But with a precise MRI the researchers can create a digital model of the heart under consideration and, using their proprietary 3D printing technique, produce a valve that’s exactly tailored to it — all in a couple hours.

A 3D printed silicone heart valve from Spectroplast.

Although they have created these valves and done some initial testing, it’ll be years before anyone gets one installed — this is the kind of medical technique that takes a decade to test. So in the meantime they are working on “life-improving” rather than life-saving applications.

One such case is adjacent to perhaps the most well-known surgical application of silicone: breast augmentation. In Spectroplast’s case, however, they’d be working with women who have undergone mastectomies and would like to have a breast prosthesis that matches the other perfectly.

Another possibility would be anything that needs to fit perfectly to a person’s biology, like a custom hearing aid, the end of a prosthetic leg, or some other form of reconstructive surgery. And of course robots and industry could use one-off silicone parts as well.

ethz siliconeprinting 2

There’s plenty of room to grow, it seems, and although Spectroplast is just starting out it already has some 200 customers. The main limitation is the speed at which the products can be printed, a process that has to be overseen by the founders, who work in shifts.

Until very recently Schaffner and Stefanov were working on this under a grant from the ETH Pioneer Fellowship and a Swiss national innovation grant. But in deciding to depart from the ETH umbrella they attracted 1.5 million Swiss franc (about the same as dollars just now) seed round from AM Ventures Holding in Germany. The founders plan to use the money to hire new staff to crew the printers.

Right now Spectroplast is doing all the printing itself, but in the next couple years it may sell the printers or modifications necessary to adapt existing setups.

You can read the team’s paper showing their process for creating artificial heart valves here.


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YC is doubling down on these investment theses in its most recent batch – gpgmail


Nearly 200 startups have just graduated from the prestigious San Francisco startup accelerator Y Combinator. The flock of companies are now free to proceed company-building with a fresh $150,000 check and three-months full of tips and tricks from industry experts.

As usual, we sent several reporters to YC’s latest demo day to take notes on each company and pick our favorites. But there were many updates to the YC structure this time around and new trends we spotted from the ground that we’ve yet to share.

CTO and HR demo days


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Lessons from the hardware capital of the world – gpgmail


A week is obviously not enough time to truly understand a market as massive and fascinating as China. Hell, it’s not really even enough time to adjust to the 12-hour time difference from New York. That said, each of the three visits I’ve taken to the country in the past two years has yielded some useful insights into my role as hardware editor here at gpgmail.

Late last week, I got back from an eight-day trip to Shenzhen in the Guangdong Province of South China and nearby Hong Kong. In some respects, the cities are worlds apart, though a newly opened high-speed rail system has reduced the trip to 30 minutes. Customs issues aside, it’s the height of convenience. Though for political and cultural reasons I’ll not get into here, some have bemoaned the access it’s provided.

This particular visit was sort of a scouting trip. In November, gpgmail will be hosting its first Hardware Battlefield event in a couple of years. Previous events had been held at CES for reasons of easy access to young startups. This time out, however, we’ve opted to go straight to the source.

The birthplace of hardware


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