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Printed optics firm raises venture cash

03 Jun 2013

Dutch and US investors support R&D and sales ramp at Luxexcel.

Luxexcel Group, a start-up company based in The Netherlands, has attracted an initial round of venture investment in support of its “on-demand” optics manufacturing technology.

Dubbed “printoptical”, the approach is said to allow single-step “CAD-to-optic” inkjet printing of smooth structures and surfaces with no need for post-processing. So far, the company has focused mainly on applications in LED lighting optics, although it is looking to expand beyond that niche.

Chrysalix SET, also in The Netherlands, and US-based Turnstone Capital Management took part in the series A round, providing "between €3 million and €5 million" to back an expansion of the firm's research and development and sales operations.

Richard van de Vrie, the founder and chairman of Luxexcel, said: "With this funding [we] can accelerate the development of our manufacturing process, printing capabilities and business development. It is important for our company’s growth objectives to have the additional expertise and experience on board, helping us to open new doors on both continents.”

Recognition
The venture deal follows a series of awards won by the firm, including an innovation prize from Frost & Sullivan last year, and the “Rapid Pro” award at a recent additive manufacturing show held in the Netherlands.

Luxexcel says that the shift towards on-demand production means that there is no longer any major difference - in terms of the capital investment required - between manufacturing a single prototype, 100 samples or 10,000 pieces of an end-product. The cost of warehousing product inventory is also much-reduced.

Wouter Jonk, a managing partner at new investor Chrysalix SET, said: “The twenty-first century is the age of digitization. We have seen in the music industry, digital cameras, television and other consumer electronics that a new digital technology changes the way of working. It is not ‘the big eat the small’ anymore but the ‘fast eat the slow’.”

“Luxexcel is a company with unique patented additive manufacturing technologies. The printing of optics means that the LED industry can design and develop new products faster and cheaper.”

Although the company has so far focused mainly on the LED lighting sector, it is expecting to address opportunities across a variety of other markets needing optics.

Marc La Magna, managing partner at Turnstone, commented: “We believe that Luxexcel will change the way optics are designed, produced, and digitally stored across many different market segments.”

“We are proud to be the first investment firm that recognized the disruptive potential of Luxexcel’s ‘printoptical’ process, and we are excited to help the company accelerate its corporate development,” added La Magna.

Following the Frost & Sullivan recognition last year, Luxexcel told optics.org that its customers can produce components such as Fresnel lenses, prisms and free-form lenses, and that it would look to target the photovoltaics and construction industries as it worked to expand its customer base.

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