Richard Seugling [00:03:11] Yeah. In general, I would say that additive manufacturing is taking the raw components combined with a 3D model, a computer model of whatever it is you want to build, and taking those constituents and then building the 3D geometry from it as opposed to traditional manufacturing, where you take a block of the material, and you find the part, so to speak, within the block. Fundamentally, that's the way I look at it. It doesn't really matter what material or what type of additive process you're doing; that's generally what you're doing.
Jay Dinsmore [00:03:43] I love the term additive, and I love the term subtractive because when I'm talking to people that don't really understand our world with 3D printing, it's a pretty easy way to describe it. Subtractive, you're starting with something and removing material to get to your end part. Additive and 3D printing, all things, it doesn't matter, as Rich said, what technology that you're using or which OEM platform. You're basically taking slices of cross-sectional geometric data of that final end shape part that you're trying to create and feeding it to the machine, which is either depositing powder, or filament, or laser-based technology. They pretty much are all very similar in that regard. You're depositing some form of a material to create your end-use part. You can do things with additive in 3D printing. As I always say, the machines don't really care what they build. You can pretty much build anything with additive that you cannot do subtractively, and that's what really pushes our industry forward. We make the impossible possible with additive and 3D printing, I guess you could say.
Matt Sand [00:10:10] Broadly, there are two ways to get into \"additive manufacturing.\" One way is to buy your own equipment. That tends to be a much harder way in that it's a much longer lead time. You have to have the expertise, the infrastructure, and the ability to buy pretty expensive printers. But if you have the right use case already fleshed out, it could make sense; it's just a longer road. The other way to get into additive manufacturing, if you're dipping your toes in the water, is to work with a company like Dinsmore, or a service bureau, or a production house like 3DEO where we make parts as a contract manufacturer, if you will. We're a part supplier. I think that's an easier way to get in, because it's a much lower barrier to entry. It's much easier and faster to get going. You get parts; you see cost structure; you understand. You get to talk to a guy like Jay or someone on Jay's team who's an applications engineer, and understand the benefits and the pros but also the cons of the technology. I think service bureaus are a great way to get started. You may be able to make the business case work with service bureaus. But even if you can't, you can always bring the equipment in-house later. I think that's a good way for small manufacturers to get started.
Richard Seugling [00:14:02] I would also add a little bit onto what Matt had said. One of the easiest ways to evaluate additive manufacturing is to start using some of the parts from a vendor of some sort. You could see what you're getting with a fairly low cost upfront. You could evaluate it pretty rapidly. Change is easy. Flexibility is one of the key things in additive manufacturing. Your ability, as Jay just said, to change gears quickly it's somewhat unheard of in other manufacturing techniques, especially things like casting, as you're going down casting path. Those are large investments with a lot of involvement. There are a lot of ways to get into or use additive manufacturing as an advantage within your company.
Jay Dinsmore [00:21:51] Yes. The human error factor or whatever. Even if there's some automation in there, the more parts and the more touches that you have of something as you build something, you're increasing the likelihood of having a problem or having an error, whereas if you're making end-use parts that come out of the machine that are done and ready to go primetime after post-process, now that's a game-changer.
Jay Dinsmore [00:22:56] Yeah, the complexity. Then you started talking about... Back to designing for additive specifically, you started talking about lightweighting and, yes, lattice structures, and design, things like that that you would have never thought about doing before, because hey, you can come up with something amazing in CAD, but there's your dead end, because you couldn't make it before. Now think about the possibilities that that opens up. Pretty much whatever your mind can create into a mathematical model you can now print in thousands of different materials both on the polymer side, metal side. That's where you're seeing a lot of growth and development in our industry, as it's fairly mature now. We've been around for decades. The first human anatomy models that I saw with my own eyes were back in 1994. We were 3D printing from CT data, from CAT scan data, back then. The things we're doing now, those models we make overnight now for planning models, for surgery, and they're very complex.
Jay Dinsmore [00:24:26] Not to scare all of our mechanical engineering students out there, but now because the technologies and the materials are fairly mature, you're almost working backwards. You're saying here's my parameters; these are my attachment points; this is the load. The computer now, regenerative design, will do it for you, and pick the process for you, and say, \"Okay, you want to print this in aluminum; it's going to be 3D printed in metal, obviously. There you go.\" It's almost like we're starting to work in reverse, if that makes sense.
Matt Sand [00:26:28] Yeah. I'd say they have to keep an eye on it, Gregg. I wouldn't say they have to stop what they're doing, because what we're talking about I think is pretty far out. I just want to make sure the listener understands exactly where the software is today, that the generative design, and the idea of inputting parameters, and having the software tell you what the design should be, what the material should be, what the process should be, it's not quite there yet. Keep an eye on it. Make sure you're not falling behind competitively, because as soon as this technology becomes usable, then it's going to be a serious competitive advantage for design teams.
Richard Seugling [00:27:10] One of the things that we're focusing on at the lab is topology optimization, where you're basically taking the performance or the design of either the part, or the material, or both and optimizing the system for functionality. That could be changing the design. Let's say we're starting with aluminum and optimizing the design to meet a stress load, for example, or going in the opposite direction and saying I have the stress load; what material properties would I like to have in order to get this output. Those types of optimizations are happening on both ends of the spectrum. Additive technologies really make that possible. You wouldn't have done that in a traditional design space. You have properties of aluminum, and you work with properties of aluminum. Now you're working in this space, where I'm going to define a new type of material. It could be a combination of materials, whether it's a metal with a ceramic base for things like body armor, for example. Optics, for example, would be another one where I could do a graded density dopant within an additive manufactured optic. I could change the properties of that optic and make it more efficient. Those are the types of activities that are happening at the lab which, I would say, are the future of additive manufacturing. That's where some of the design space is going.
Richard Seugling [00:28:38] Yeah. I think that's going to be the future. You're going to be able to develop material properties, whether it's strength, stiffness, those types of things, that you're going to go into the design world with a much more blank slate than you would have in the past.
Matt Sand [00:29:16] I think at the end of the day if you're an owner, an executive, a leader of a small manufacturing company, additive has the potential to give you a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage comes through. This is not widely used, widely distributed technology; you're able to do very unique things. You're able to create proprietary designs that perhaps solve the problem better for your customer or create new possibilities with new products that you just weren't able to do. One example is Blackland razors. We just launched a metal 3D printed safety razor. If you search, it's called the Era on their website. He had an idea for a design that he was hoping to make one mass-market safety razor. His CNC machine razors are about $300 each, and he wanted to hit an $80 price point with the razor. He had the idea to make one. When he realized how easy it was to iterate on designs, to launch different designs, we're actually taking to market 10 different iterations on this product with him. It's a unique design, uniquely for 3D printing. It gives him competitive advantage. He's able to launch 10 products and serve the entire market rather than forecasting a year in advance, guessing which one product is going to do the best and then hoping for the best. He's able to launch all the products and see what really lands with his customers.
Gregg Profozich [00:30:50] That's a compelling case for the flexibility and the customization capability. Rich, I know you're not selling to customers, but you do have internal customers in a sense. What are some of the other values that they've realized from some of the work you guys have done at the lab in additive
Jay Dinsmore [00:31:37] We are a manufacturer, just not... We have made some of our own things, but a majority of the work that we do is for others, for our customers. Some of our largest customers have very capable in-house additive manufacturing and 3D printing labs. We are basically an extension of their lab. One of the things that we see quite often is the creative juices are flowing when you're able to access additive, whether it's internally, externally. You will start doing things that you wouldn't normally do, which leads to innovation, which leads to new products, which leads to problem-solving. We see that quite often with our customers. What I also notice is a lot of the executives in organizations are starting to figure out... Oakley, for an example, sunglass manufacturer. They make a lot more than sunglasses now. They've had a showcase premiere additive lab that they would show all their executives. That's going back into the early 2000s. They will use that as, \"You want to partner with us, because we can do all these amazing things with this technology.\" They use it to showcase and boast their innovation for their companies and what they're doing. 59ce067264