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3D printing: Who’s investing now and what’s coming next

Gigaom

Printing has come a long way since Gutenberg and the first printing press in 1439. The printing industry has evolved from the golden age of printing blocks to modern 2D printers capable of mass-producing documents in minutes. We have seen these devices become an integral part of our lives, but today’s technology is taking them even further for the everyday consumer. What once seemed like science fiction is now a reality, with 3D printers creating anything from mechanical parts to prosthetics.

The trends: The rise of 3D printing

The 3D industry itself is not new. A few companies, such as 3D Systems and Stratasys, have been around for decades, and hundreds more have emerged since then.

However, it has taken over 20 years for the industry to gain traction and attract real interest from investors. Historically, this could be attributed to the fact that, in the beginning, there were only a handful of companies worth mentioning. From 2011 to…

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Investors back startup that sells offgrid battery & solar panels

Gigaom

Batteries paired with solar panels aren’t just intriguing customers in the U.S., Europe and Japan looking to ditch their utilities. People are slowly adopting batteries and solar panels in offgrid markets, too, using their cell phones to make reoccurring micropayments and using solar energy to replace kerosene lanterns.

This week startup Fenix International — which is based in San Francisco and Kampala, Uganda, and was founded in 2009 — announced that it has raised a Series B round of $12.6 million to get its battery and solar panel product into the hands of more customers. Fenix emerged from stealth in late 2010 with a plan to sell its lead acid battery product, which comes with a solar panel and other energy adapters, to customers in rural Africa.

Vodafone branded ReadySet charging cell phones. Vodafone branded ReadySet charging cell phones.

The company struck deals with African telcos like MTN in Uganda and Vodafone in Tanzania for…

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