Autodesk Creates 3D Printing Investment Program



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The Spark Investment Fund, operated within Autodesk, will make as much as $100 million available to companies and individuals developing innovations in hardware, software, materials and other activities related to the promotion of 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology. The idea is to bring better ideas and approaches to the surface from the user/inventor/developer community rather than wait for a closed, top-down release of technology from corporations.

In making the announcement that it intends to invest substantially in 3D printing companies and users over the next several years, the company also made this unusual concept of technology development apparent. By funding entrepreneurs, startups and researchers, the company believes it can help them push the boundaries of 3D printing/additive manufacturing technology more effectively than other ways to encourage this development. This is based on the belief that the boldest and most brilliant innovations are likely to come from these often overlooked, unexpected or underfunded sources.

"The days of taking a closed, top-down approach to innovating for additive manufacturing are behind us. Numerous industries recognize the value of tapping into entrepreneurs or startups with better ideas and approaches, and 3D printing is no exception,” says Samir Hanna, vice president and general manager, Consumer Products and 3D Printing, at Autodesk. “The Spark Investment Fund will empower innovators to improve 3D printing, and to help us unlock the tremendous promise of this technology.”

The announcement of this fund is accompanied by two other significant Autodesk initiatives. One is the company introduction of Spark, an open and free software platform for 3D printing that will connect digital information to 3D printers in a new way. The company says that Spark will connect to any hardware and be materials agnostic to help the entire 3D printing community to collaborate, build and improve the platform.

The other is Autodesk's newly introduced Ember 3D printer. This 3D printer is designed to get additive manufacturing capability into the hands of designers, inventors and developers quickly and affordably to encourage experimentation, exploration of new applications and integration into the creative process. To this end, the company is making a limited number of "Explorer Edition" Ember 3D printers available to approved users early in 2015. To apply, click here.