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3-D Printing

Carbon taps ex-DuPont chief Ellen Kullman as CEO

Kullman will take over from Joe DeSimone, the chemist who founded the 3-D printing start-up

by Alexander H. Tullo
November 30, 2019 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 97, ISSUE 47

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Credit: Carbon
Joseph DeSimone (left) and Ellen Kullman

Carbon, a 3-D printing start-up based in Redwood City, California, has appointed Ellen J. Kullman CEO. Kullman, the former CEO of DuPont, replaces Carbon founder and chemist Joseph M. DeSimone, who will continue with the firm as executive chairman.

Kullman joined Carbon’s board in 2016, shortly after leaving DuPont. “I am privileged to have spent the last few years on the Carbon board working alongside Joe, one of the greatest entrepreneurs and scientists of our time,” she says in a statement. “Joe has built Carbon into the world’s leading digital manufacturing platform.”

DeSimone founded Carbon in 2013 while a chemistry professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The company’s machines trace out complex shapes, layer by layer, using photocurable resins. An oxygen-permeable window in the machines provides more continuous and faster printing than do those based on other 3-D printing technologies, such as stereolithography. Carbon’s machines can also process a wide array of resins, including epoxies, acrylics, polyurethanes, and silicones.

DeSimone positioned Carbon’s technology as a way to use 3-D printing on the factory floor. Adidas now uses Carbon’s machines to make sneaker soles, and Ford Motor plans to implement the technology to fabricate auto parts. Carbon raised $260 million from investors earlier this year, bringing its total funding to $680 million.

“Ellen is the right person to lead Carbon today,” DeSimone says in a statement, noting that her experience will benefit the firm as it takes off.

Kullman became CEO at DuPont in 2009. Her last year with the company, 2015, was tumultuous. She fought off a challenge from the activist investor Nelson Peltz in the spring but left in the fall after a lackluster earnings report. Her successor, Ed Breen, immediately began negotiating a merger with Dow Chemical.

Kullman recently submitted an affidavit in a lawsuit that the DuPont spin-off Chemours brought against DuPont. Chemours claims that it was saddled with an unfair burden of liabilities related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Kullman, who presided over the spin-off, supported Chemours’s case when she said that “DuPont unilaterally determined the terms of the separation agreement.”

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