This week’s Innovator is Dr. Chance Glenn, talking about his latest innovation in 3D printing and how he hopes to bring out a revolution in 3D printing functional electronics.
Your Full Name:
Dr. Chance Glenn,
Founder, Morningbird Media Corporation & Co-Inventor, Electronic Alchemy
I grew up as the youngest of eight children, raised by our grandmother, while she took care of her ailing father, in a small town in Southeastern Alabama. We were transplants from Newark, New Jersey, so as a poor Black family in the late sixties in the Deep South who were “yankees,” it was tough sledding. As a family, we were each other’s friends as well. I was always driven to create from a very early age. Two things I can clearly remember that I wanted to grow up to do was one, be a college professor, and two, be involved in space exploration. I am and have been a college professor, and we are developing technology that may very well support future space exploration and is currently supported by NASA.
Tell us about your company:
Morningbird Media Corporation is a Delaware C-corp that has been established to develop innovative commercial technologies. Electronic Alchemy is our latest technology that has the ability to 3D print functional electronics. Electronic Alchemy consists of the eForge, a multi-material 3D printer, six proprietary material mixture filaments, and software for the design, printing, and sharing of electronic devices. Early impact is in the realm of sensors, biomedical devices, electronic components and boards, and to change the research-design-testing cycle for government and private industry. Further, we expect to print more sophisticated electronics for commercial consumption. In its full capacity, Electronic Alchemy can represent a complete paradigm shift in how products are delivered to consumers. If you dream it, you can make it. Overall, our goal is to enable innovation.
What problem in the market are you trying to solve?
In the early stages, devices such as pressure sensors, temperature sensors, chemical sensors, and a myriad of other devices were not able to be 3D printed. We have solved that problem and have demonstrated this through various prototypes. This does two things: (1) Changes the design cycle timing so that devices can be designed, fabricated, and tested in matters of minutes, not days. (2) Customized, on-demand creation of devices is now possible, which allows problems to be solved in real time and in greater capacity. We are proving this now. In the longer term, as we expand the materials, improve printing resolution, improve printing speed, and optimize the overall process, more sophisticated devices can be produced, such as phones, toys, watches, etc. Even more powerful than the production of devices, we will put this power in the hands of creative people who will collectively solve problems and produce even more interesting devices as time goes by.
How is your product different from those of the established players in your market?
We continue to develop materials and expect to soon have proprietary mixtures for magnetic materials, piezoelectric materials, for the printing of power such as batteries and solar cells, photo luminescent materials, and several more. Our goal is to own the printing processes, the materials processes, and to build a library of devices for use by academia, government, private industry, and general consumers worldwide.
Do you think you can overtake your competition?
Probably the most sophisticated 3D printing concern is HP. They produce multi-color 3D printers on the industrial level. We have exchanged nondisclosure agreements with them and have had to the privilege of having technical discussions about our respective technologies. Our capabilities are beyond theirs at the moment, and we have filed patents on our intellectual property. There are other scientific and academic institutions working on the problem of 3D printed electronics but they have not yet demonstrated the level of sophistication that we have. 3D printers currently create devices from polymers and metals. So far, our approach to printing the key materials required for functional electronics is unique.
How does your product make you money? Or have you obtained funding?
Our goal is to launch a product for general consumers in 6 to 9 months. Our design plans are on schedule, our material development is on pace, and our software development is proceeding. We have established strategic relationships with some key industry partners to ensure that when we launch all of the components are in place.
Presently we have received Phase I, and Phase II STTR funding from NASA. We have also received a direct Phase III SBIR award from NASA as well. We are utilizing these funds to finish our commercialization stage, wherein we would emerge with our product, the Electronic Alchemy eForge, for sale to the general public in a four-stage process. We have determined a price-point for the eForge and have set sales goals for stages 1 through 4. We would continue to grow revenue by continuous sales of the eForge, recurring sales of the material filaments, device development projects with industry and government, and continued growth of government contracts. The potential in this space is very high. We are aggressively pursuing this market.
Where do you see yourself and your product in the next 5 years?
In the next five years I see Morningbird Media approaching $100M in sales of the Electronic Alchemy suite, while establishing new product lines, materials, and devices that support it. We will be entertaining IPO or acquisition for the product line as we establish new business for the corporation.
Do you have any advice for new entrepreneurs/innovators?
My advice for new entrepreneurs is to not fall too in love with your own ideas. Let the market speak. Figure out what you product is then work like crazy to make it into reality. Build a great team with people who are knowledgeable, confident, and innovative. Then, let them do what they do. Finally, failure is a prerequisite for success. The best lessons come from failure, you must have the courage and fortitude to get up, assess the problem, correct it, and keep moving forward.