Back in the summer we covered Fuel3D’s Kickstarter campaign for a high res scanner that can turn real world objects into 3D models with accurate geometry and colour — a companion device for the rise in ownership of 3D printers (which of course need 3D blueprints to print).
Fuel3D went on to raise more than $300,000 via its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, and today the technology that came out of the U.K.’s Oxford University has further added to its war chest for continued development and getting the product to market — snagging $2.6 million in early stage financing from a syndicate of private investors, led by Ben Gill of London-based Chimera Partners.
“We are developing hardware, software and go-to-market strategy for our international (non-U.S.) markets. The next funding in the summer will be for developing US markets,” the startup told TechCrunch when asked what it plans to use the new funding for.
It’s also talking early IPO, with plans to follow this tranche of external funding with a mezzanine financing round, expected to take place before the summer — and, possibly, an initial public offering as early as 2015.
“We have established a core group of shareholders that have taken a long term view on the technology and management of Fuel 3D Technologies,” said Gill, commenting on the funding in a statement. “The 3D printing market is the focus of significant investor interest at the moment, and Fuel 3D’s disruptive technology feeds that interest from a unique angle. We are actively exploring a number of interesting financing options, including the possibility of an early IPO.”
“Any decision on an IPO will be down to timing, of course, but at the moment things look good from an economic, market appetite and institutional perspective for some time in the next year or two,” a spokesman for Fuel3D added.
Fuel3D said the big response to its Kickstarter campaign, which had only been aiming to raise $75,000 so pulled in 4x that original target, helped it draw interest from the broader investment community.
“We had a phenomenal response to our product on Kickstarter and the attention this generated led to many enquiries from the broader investment community,” said Stuart Mead, CEO, Fuel 3D Technologies, in a statement. “We have always been confident that our technology has the potential to revolutionize the industry and are delighted to have found a group of ambitious and well-resourced investors who share our vision.”
While Fuel3D is not the first to build a high resolution 3D scanner by any means, its focus on making such high end tech affordable — putting a sub-$1,000 price-tag on the device for its Kickstarter campaign — is presumably what’s especially exciting investors here.
The expected retail price of Fuel3D’s device will actually be $1,500 — albeit, that’s still far below rival high res scanners which it says retail for $15,000+.
Fuel3D’s device also breaks from the relatively rigid turntable model for scanning objects, such as the rival Photon 3D scanner, allowing for more freestyle scanning. So, for instance, human faces can be captured in situ — i.e. on people’s necks — without having to do any kind of separating of head from body.
The other focus for Fuel3D is on capturing accurate colour and detailed texture, offering wide scope for its scanner beyond the 3D printing space — i.e. for use by 3D artists, animators, game designers and so on.
Fuel3D’s original Kickstarter campaign was aiming to ship to the earliest backers in April, with additional shipments penciled in for July and September as it worked through to fulfill orders. It said now it’s on track to fulfill those Kickstarter pledges, with the first units due to go to backers in late April.