Will the Next Big 3D Printing Start-up Emerge from GIGTANK 2014?

In two weeks, Danielle and I have the pleasure of flying to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the only town to inspire a gold record winning song about trains and establish a city-owned one gigabit internet service. And, while we’re going for the silly name and municipal internet, we’re staying for GIGTANK 2014, the city’s third annual start-up accelerator, in which entrepreneurs from around the world pitch their innovative ideas to potential investors and partners. Previously focusing on innovative healthcare and smart grid solutions, this year’s GIGTANK has thrown 3D printing into the mix with the nation’s first 3D printing accelerator.

GIGTANK’s Demo Day, on July 29, will kick off with a keynote address from Terry Wohlers, of Wohlers Associates, which produces the Wohlers Report that has been a cornerstone of the 3D printing industry for more than twenty years. Followed by that, we’ll be privy to a bevy of 3D printing start-ups who will be pitching their business plans to the crowd in the hopes of earning the hearts, minds and dollars of would-be investors. And, of course, there will be plenty of networking.

Feetz 3d printed shoes

The start-ups participating in this year’s accelerator are sure to be exciting, either putting a new spin on already existing 3D printed ideas or trying something altogether new. For instance, we’ve already covered Feetz at 3DPI. At Demo Day, the company’s CEO, Lucy Beard, will discuss the company’s 3D printed footwear. Hopefully, she’ll be able to give us a bit more detail on where the project is at in development, as the company’s website hasn’t changed much since we first wrote about them.

the fab cloud 3d printingLathon Technologies is pitching their large-format, dual extruder 3D printers, which they claim to print faster and larger than other machines on the market. The Fab Cloud is an online network that offers services similar to other companies already out there that seek to connect 3D printer owners with those who need things printed. My hope is that they’ve got a unique approach that allows them to stand out from the crowd. And TrakTek3D is a mobile additive manufacturing service that will drive to you to 3D print the parts that you need.

I’m most interested in some of the more specialized 3D printing firms, however. Seambot, for example, claims to have the ability to 3D print clothing and fabric. We’ve written about a few such projects, but I’ve never gotten the chance to see a 3D clothing printer in real life. 3DOps and Nestegg Bio are both 3D printing-healthcare crossover companies, with the former providing 3D printed surgical guides and models and the latter focusing specifically on non-toxic scaffolding for bioprinting.

Not all of the start-ups will necessarily have the chops to establish fully fledged businesses, but the ones that do will give me some exciting stories to report back to you. And, hopefully, when I do report back, I’ll have some nice shots of that Chattanooga Choo Choo you’ve all been dying to see.