Loveland-based Aleph Objects Inc. has experienced meteoric growth in the last calendar year.
The company, which manufactures desktop 3-D printers, went from 17 employees to 78 in the past year, and it doesn’t expect that growth to stop anytime soon. Its revenue has jumped 783.8 percent in the past two years, moving from $523,706 in 2012 to $4.6 million in 2014.
The company also is a free-software, Libre innovation and open-source hardware company. The entire industry sprouted from the proliferation of free and open 3-D modeling programs and the general sharing of knowledge on the Internet, said Harris Kenny, marketing manager for Aleph Objects.
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“We’re glad to be part of that and contributing as well. As that collaboration is happening, even as companies are competing, we are free software and open-source hardware,” he said. “There are times we are enabling our competitors to learn how we are doing things, but it is driving the cost down for consumers. It allows better ideas to get out faster.”
When the company was founded by president Jeff Moe in 2011, the 3-D printing market was really in its infancy. Part of that was because people couldn’t envision all of the possibilities for the equipment back then.
Now, the company’s growth is being fueled by equal parts professional and personal use. Professionals such as mechanical engineers, designers and artists are using the company’s 3-D printers to do rapid prototyping. The educational market also has taken a shine to the devices, which will print out 3-D plastic models of just about any object that can fit on its platform.
Aleph’s largest machine, the LulzBot TAZ, can print a 3-D model that is 12 inches cubed. The LulzBot Mini 3-D Printer prints 3-D models that are 6 inches cubed.
“The goal of the company from day one was advancing free software and open-source hardware,” said Kenny. “When we say free, we mean Libre, like free speech, versus gratis or zero price. That is the goal of the company, and because of what is going on in the Libre and 3-D printing community, it was a great way to get started.”
The company has future product lines in mind but for now is focused on 3-D printing.
“We are fiercely committed to respecting user freedom and offering consumers (information) so they have the total ability to understand how it works, make models and share with other people,” Kenny said. “People are really interested in technology like that.”
Many companies are using 3-D printers to prototype designs before injection molds are made. That is the biggest use for Aleph’s machines. Aleph is proud to use its own printers to make parts for its line of 3-D printers, Kenny said.
Depending on the model, 30 to 40 3-D parts are printed on Aleph’s machines.
People are only limited by their imagination when using a 3-D printer. Aleph has clients that manufacture customized prosthetic hands on its machines and others that are designing cars, tractors and household electronics, “the things that make modern life possible,” he said.
“We’re just getting started,” he added. “This is the very early days. There is a lot of room to grow still.”
He credits the company’s fast growth to a great team of employees.
“We spend a lot of time making sure that what we are doing today will make sense at double or triple the size,” Kenny said. “We are trying to prepare for that growth.”