Startups
Funding / Hiring / Manufacturing

Pittsburgh ink tech company Liquid X’s $2.5M raise means hiring

The Fox Chapel-based company aims to become a "self-sustaining" entity: "It's very exciting time for us."

Liquid X's particle-free conductive ink. (Courtesy photo)

After over a decade in business, a Fox Chapel-based ink tech and e-textile company is looking forward to growth after its latest raise.

Liquid X manufactures particle-free metallic inks. The company is unique, VP of Operations Beth Vasy told Technical.ly, not only because its ink products can be printed on textiles, but because they maintain a level of durability and versatility across printing mediums, from medical devices to solar panels to t-shirts.

“Because we’re particle-free, we can run our printers for entire shifts without having any clogging edge of the nozzles,” Vasy said. “We have great adhesion, great electrical properties, so we’re able to touch on everything from the traditional substrates all the way to the textiles and fabrics.”

Liquid X spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2010, after its leaders Richard McCullough and Greg Babe saw a need for a more flexible ink products during the additive manufacturing boom in the mid-2000s. Following a $1.24 million raise in 2016, the company expanded from producing only inks to prototyping printed electronic components. This opened the door to development opportunities and partnerships that entailed working on smart fabrics and standard printed electronics such as iPhones, Vasy said.

“We have the ability to design, do the electrical engineering, prototyping, and pilot scale production,” she said.

Beth Vasy of Liquid X. (Courtesy photo)

Liquid X’s customer base consists of other businesses as opposed to individuals, and the company acts as a research and development arm by using its resources to help startups attract investors by building prototypes for them and or lending them a chemist to fine tune what they may already be working on. Vasy said the company’s proud of its ability to take its customers from concepts to fully realized products.

The company raised $2.5 million in December, to be divided in three tranches over the next two years. (Vasy didn’t name the investors.) With the new funding, Liquid X leadership plans to add to their staff, Vasy said, it also brings the company closer to being a self-sustaining entity.

“In our strategic plan, we envision that this [funding] will take us to a point where we’ll be self-sustaining,” Vasy said. “We’ve been around since 2010. Raising money, it’s a very exciting time for us.”

In the months to come, the company also plans on hiring sales staff as well as more office support to assist with operations. Currently, the staff of 10 consists of administrative workers, a marketing team, and technical workers that allow the company to do its manufacturing within the city.

Next up: “We’re going to have some really exciting product offerings to offer at upcoming trade shows that will highlight [our company] and some really exciting things coming up,” Vasy said. Stay tuned.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.
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