Austin 3D printing startup gets $1.5 million boost

May 29, 2014
Austin American Statesman

An Austin-based 3D printing industry startup has gotten a major boost with $1.5 million in seed funding led largely by local investment firm MicroVentures

Technology firm Structured Polymers, founded by several University of Texas graduates, was able to bypass traditional venture capital efforts by raising most of the cash — $1.2 million — in less than a week through MicroVentures’ crowdfunding platform in their largest effort to date

The money will help the Austin firm develop and sell “ink,” or specialty polymer powders, used for commercial 3D printers, which can replicate an array of products, such as parts used in the aviation, automotive and medical industries

Structured Polymers, which was launched in 2012 through the Austin Technology Incubator, has developed a new, proprietary manufacturing method, which is patented, using so-called Selective Laser Sintering, or SLS, that increases the types of materials, or polymers, the 3D printers can use. The firm’s team is comprised of five team members, including founder and CEO Vikram Devarajan and Carl Deckard, inventor of the SLS process

MicroVentures, which merges crowdfunding with the venture capital industry, led a funding round that involved about 65 investors that helped the Austin-based startup reach the $1.2 million mark

“It is very cool, this is our largest raise and it just happens to be an Austin company,” said MicroVentures President Bill Clark

A remaining $300,000 was raised through other efforts such as angel and institutional investors to help the firm reach the $1.5 million mark

Structured Polymers said they chose to go with crowdfunding over traditional venture funding because it was a quicker route to raise money

“We are at a major turning point in the 3D printing industry due to 20-year-old hardware patents expiring,” said Vikram Devarajan, co-founder and CEO of Structured Polymers. “This presents new opportunities in the commercial 3D printing market in particular, and Structured Polymers is set to capitalize on these changes by offering more specialized materials at lower costs than the limited materials available now.”

MicroVentures is one of the oldest equity crowdfunding paltforms in the country, and the company took the rare step of also holding a seat on the board for Structured Polymers. The firm operates “like an online venture capital investment bank,” MicroVentures President Bill Clark said

“This deal is the perfect example of our ability to combine the best aspects of both venture capital and equity crowdfunding,” Clark went on to say. “We not only offer mentorship and market research to our startups, but also the ability to quickly raise money from a growing online network of accredited investors.”

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