Chattanooga: Building Innovation, Literally

By Holly Ashley

What city in the world was the perfect place for Branch Technology founder Platt Boyd to build his groundbreaking new business? With a ‘must have’ list that included blazing fast internet speeds, a thriving entrepreneurial and 3D printing network and access to the natural landscapes that inspire him, Chattanooga checked off everything on his list. So in 2014, Boyd made Gig City his new home - and business has been booming ever since.

Branch Technology uses the world’s largest, freeform 3D printing robot and a patented process called cellular fabrication, or C-Fab™, to create architectural components whose limitless forms are inspired by nature. These components include interior decorative wall elements and ceilings, non-loadbearing interior partitions, furniture and exhibition structures. Branch’s production process looks like this: a 12-foot robotic arm uses a carbon composite material to freeform print a frame in open air. The frame can then be sent to a construction site where it’s finished with traditional construction materials like spray foam or concrete. Pretty amazing, right?

Since choosing Chattanooga, Branch has been named one of the 10 most disruptive technologies of 2015 by Inc. Magazine, created and installed the country’s tallest 3D printed object at the Museum of Design Atlanta, and has garnered headlines in Fortune, Gizmodo and Architect Magazine. Branch’s latest stroke of innovation is in sponsoring a global home design challenge that encourages architects, designers, engineers and artists to “strip away preconceived notions of traditional design and construction and think freely.” The company is literally building innovation thanks to first-class business support provided right here in Chattanooga.

“Chattanooga is like rocket fuel for a startup,” Boyd says. It sure is.