14 Jan 2014
Netherlands-based firm offers a 3D printing process for ‘digital’ manufacturing of optical components.
Luxexcel, the start-up company developing a 3D printing process to prototype and manufacture lenses and other optical products, says that it has closed a venture funding round bringing one of Germany’s largest cleantech investors on board for the first time.
The Netherlands-based firm, which is collaborating closely with researcher Jyrkki Saarinen at the University of Eastern Finland, says that it has attracted “several million” euros in the latest round of financing.
It saw Munich Venture Partners (MVP) join existing investors Chrysalix SET and Filsa Capital. A key partner of the Fraunhofer group of institutions in Germany, MVP invests in selected high-tech start-ups in the environmental technology and energy sectors.
"We are excited to announce this completion," said Richard van de Vrie, founder and chairman of Luxexcel, in a company statement. "This cash injection secures our growth and corporate development, increasing the capabilities that we offer to optical designers and LED lighting manufacturers.”
“Our new partner Munich Ventures Partner is one of Germany’s largest cleantech investors, with a very valuable network that will help us open new doors,” he added.
Van de Vrie told optics.org: “Luxexcel has received sufficient funding to finance our business plan helping the LED lighting industry with faster research and development, new applications, customized products and addressing the whole long tail of this industry - enabling designers to work digitally with new tools and software applications.”
He added that the company was also looking to work in other sectors aside from lighting, saying: “We [also] receive great interest from market-leading players out of other vertical markets with interest to develop ophthalmic lenses, photonic applications, automotive lenses and much more. Luxexcel definitively has the intention to target more markets and prefers to do that in cooperation with such market leaders that are prepared to change and perhaps even disrupt their way of working. New digital manufacturing brings new possibilities.”
Martin Kröner, managing partner at MVP, said: “We invested in Luxexcel because of their unique patented process to print optics. We believe that their ‘Printoptical’ technology will change the way optics are designed, produced, and digitally stored across many different market segments.”
“Although the company is focused on the LED Lighting market, as the capabilities rapidly improve we expect Luxexcel to address similar opportunities in other optical markets. Our team is looking forward to helping Luxexcel to accelerate the digitization of optics manufacturing.”
The patented technology is a 3D printing process based around a piezoelectric controllable print head that deposits material subsequently cured with ultraviolet light.
It is described by the firm as a “one step CAD-to-optic” approach, and is said to produce optically smooth structures and surfaces, with the printed optics requiring no post-processing.
Luxexcel believes that it will give optics professionals a new level of design freedom, including the ability to design prototypes that can be manufactured within just a few days. This is expected to aid product development and eventually lead to significant cost reductions.
The company has already been recognized with a Deloitte Fast-50 “Most-Disruptive-Technology Award” for 2013, and last year it also won the Belgium/Dutch Accenture Innovation Award.
Wouter Jonk, a managing partner at investor Chrysalix SET, said: “We were the first venture capital investor to take a position in Luxexcel, based on our conviction that [it] will become a global key player in the field of optics and will accelerate the growth of the LED lighting Industry.”
Following the latest round of investment, the company also said that it was hiring for a number of key positions, including chief financial officer, process engineering R&D and technical sales support.
Luxexcel corporate video: