Carpenter Additive's, Mark Pinder, Business Development Manager, sits down with Dror Danai, Chief Business Officer at XJET, at Formnext 2021 for this recent edition of PowderHeads. In this chat, Dror covers the industry transition from 2D to 3D, and talks about why AM is such a differentiator in the entire manufacturing sector.
You can read the transcript or listen to the full episode below.
Hi everyone. And welcome back to PowderHeads, a Carpenter Additive podcast. With each episode of PowderHeads, we bring you the minds of industry experts and delve into topics that are defining how additive manufacturing is making an impact on our world. Today, we have another episode recorded at the Formnext 2021 expo in Frankfurt, Germany. This past November, our guest is Dror Danai chief business officer at Israeli-based XJET. XJET provides industry-leading high definite 3D printing solutions. Dror sits down on a discussion with Mark Pinder, Business Development Manager at Carpenter Additive. Dror talks a bit about the industry transition from 2D to 3D, and also references why AM is such a differentiator in the entire manufacturing sector. It's an engaging exchange at a time of both growth and business concern. Thanks for listening and enjoy the conversation.
Mark Pinder (01:08):
Welcome Dror. It's, uh, an absolute pleasure to have you today to, um, get your opinions and, and just understand a little bit more about yourself and you know, how you see the AM industry today and, and, and in the future, I must say personally, you are a bit of a celebrity for me on the LinkedIn. In fact, the latest one, um, posting from the beach. <laugh> I believe that had a lot of admiration. Um, sadly we're well For Next is probably not so glamorous, but there's plenty of energy, not so many cocktails right now, as we need to keep professional, but, uh, Dror, please, um, introduce yourself a bit of background as to how, how you came into I am.
Dror Danai (01:49):
Okay, so first thank you for having me here today. I'm happy to be here. I'm happy to be For Next it's. It's a pleasure to see a lot of guys that I haven't seen for two years precisely. So I'm really glad to be here at this morning, and I'm really, uh, happy to meet so many people to see the improvements, the news, the new technologies and everything that changed over the past three years. My name is, Dror Danai I, and I joined this industry in early 2000 to a small startup company called Object or geometries to be precise. Yep. And later became, um, Stratasys, as you all know. Um, and I remember coming back home and my spouse asked me, well, what's your smile? And I said, I've been promoted because I was in two dimensions. I was still in the old printing industry and I signed a deal to go into 3d. So I said, look, this is already a promotion. Don't you ask about the numbers, but that's a significant <laugh>. And, um, today I'm with ExJet, the legend says, uh, since the founder of object created ExJet and it took big part of the original team, especially in R and B, but also myself, a few others. So the legend in the industry is that JE was named ex jet like an ex-wife. So it's the ex team. <laugh> this is not true by the way Story, But, um, happy to, to be in, in this, uh, growing industry. Yeah. Happy to see new guys like yourself. So,And many others.
Mark Pinder (03:29):
So Dror, obviously you mentioned earlier was an easy, uh, sum to make, right? So 21 years in the industry, that that's a, yeah. A huge amount of time. I guess what we wanna understand is cuz you've, you know, you've been there from quite the beginning, right? From the 2d to the 3d step. What is from your point of view, what do you feel is like the biggest step change within that last 21 years? You know, what is it that really stands out for you?
Dror Danai (03:59):
Well, There are many, many steps, so, uh, it's hard to choose one single step. Yep. But if I, I want to mention something that is dramatic and it's also noticeable in the way the industry defines itself is that we used to call it 3d printing and, and today more and more people use additive manufacturing. Yeah. And that's, uh, quite challenging because when you use the word manufacturing, people start to think about predictability repeatability and other factors that when we were 3d printing or even in the early days, rapid prototyping. <Yeah.> It's, it's a much, much more than demanding or ambitious challenge because manufacturing I'm a manufacturing engineer. Nobody's perfect. So I'm moving into,
Mark Pinder (04:49):
I'm just a salesman. So I can't those.
Dror Danai (04:53):
So moving Into manufacturing requires different levels. And, and I think if you look today and, and I see XJET a selling or exit users are selling parts for consumer goods applications, and this is very exciting. I mean, we're still not doing millions. And I don't think that we will ever will. I don't think that's in our, you know, long term plans as an industry to replace manufacturing. I, I do not think today we are maybe one 10th of 1% of the manufacturing industry all together, all of us. And, and we will grow, we will be maybe 1%, maybe 5% one day, but we will not replace manufacturing. And, and I think we need to be very modest about that. We know that there are limitations. Yeah. And when it comes to mass production, but luckily the new world is, is different and more and more people are asking for short trends. People are asking for customizations, all the things that we talked about 21, almost 22 years when I joined the, the industry are still valid, but now they're becoming reality. So we do see the level of, uh, predictability so people can rely on output of our systems. And I'm sure others as well as, um, repeatability. Yeah. So you can now measure the, the, you want me to, you can measure the mechanical properties of the part coming out of a system, comparing to traditional manufacturing. And, and, and I see our customers being surprised. Some of them are in the industry for decades or even centuries in manufacturing. And, and when they look at the parts and they send them to the labs and they get the, both from the geometry and on the mechanical properties, they're overwhelmed to see that we reach the level yep. That they envisioned and couldn't get be before. And I think this is the biggest step that the industry took in the past few years.
Mark Pinder (06:52):
No, I, I think that's, you know, a fair, a fair sort of to that particular topic. I mean, from, from my point of view, I, I feel that, um, and I respect you as a manufacturing engineer, but I think that in what you mentioned about that step change in the last sort of, well, I wanna say yeah, in the 20 years to where we are today, I think that there's been so much, um, new technologies within what was a very, I guess, you know, 3d printing was compartmentalized. It was a very specific reference point, right. In terms of a, a production process. And I think that the, uh, that I guess was the initial platform to innovate and inspire, um, or the businesses or the, you know, entrepreneur, engineers, PhD students to build upon that particular, um, you know, manufacturing competency, if you will, and then broaden the horizons on, you know, other technologies.
Mark Pinder (07:51):
So I think that additive manufacturing actually almost epitomizes, this is a serious technology now, rather than more of a hobby kind of style. I mean, I always felt it was, um, at times a bit of a hobby or it was always in, um, you know, prototyping it's gone from, as a to Anne mentioned earlier on today, he's gone from kind of kindergarten playing around to we're at college now. And that from college to university, if you will, from a essentially established, you know, established route to market is the journey we're on now. So, um, I think that, yeah, additive manufacturing will, will complement the existing technologies. As we know today, you know, certain technologies suits certain applications. And I think that, uh, more so if we can kind of focus on ultimately what the customer requires, what we're trying to achieve, then holistically is an ecosystem. That's how we deliver it. And yeah, it's good to hear that 21 years, we're finally starting to reach printed parts that are actually delivering their, you know, that the expectations you've gotta start somewhere, right? So the right brothers, all the rest of it, and here we are today. So I, I acknowledge that. Um, what, what excites you them most in terms of the am, am industry? What really gets you, you know, smiling, as you mentioned, I,
Dror Danai (09:21):
I, I think what, what was preached from early days and finally now truly being achieved, uh, is referred to as a freedom of design. Now, some of the cases, when, when people talk about freedom of design, they talk, or they used to talk about simple things like making bionic design that will save few pounds or something that needs to fly, and you are happy to save new kilograms and it's good for the environment. Great. And this is really great, but I think that it's, we took it now and I actually I'm quoting some of our users. Now. It allows us to do impossible geometries that truly contribute to end users. And, and, and I think I mentioned in one of my, uh, presentations earlier this year, I, I mentioned, uh, a, a user, uh, from Wisconsin that created a probe that basically allows complete removal of tumors of breast cancer in a very early stage.
Mark Pinder (10:27):
Dror Danai (10:28):
Now this is the kind of things that we were dreaming about. I mean, it's not just making a, a saving of few pounds or fractures of a pound. That will mean a lot over many, many years of flying. It's a lot more than that. It allows the imagination of engineers like this, this guy from medicine, Wisconsin. It allows people to create products that will make it better future for humanity. So it's not that additive manufacturing just takes, as I said before, 1% of the existing manufacturing, it does open in the future to new applications. And I can name few more. That were impossible before. So it takes, as you said before, you mentioned university, I'll go for the education. I'll go for things that were slogans 20 years ago, like designed for additive manufactured. It's not just designed for additive manufacturing. I think it's think for additive manufacturing, Which means.
Mark Pinder (11:31):
it's a mindset, isn't it, it's a mindset.
Dror Danai (11:33):
It's not that you design something that will weigh loss, which is great. You designed something that you couldn't before. Okay. One of the greatest examples is, um, creating a passive antenna or passive lens. People talk about ceramic lens. For example, for decades, the LuniBerg lens was discussed in mathematics theories were built and people created over, uh, software created a perfect lens that will allow to divert an directional transmission of light or any electromagnetic wave yep. Into a disparic then, uh, transmission <affirmative>. This is something that was impossible until today. Only in the last few months we mentioned, we manage actually our customers manage to bring this dream into reality and print a lens of ceramics that is so complex. That was, and we so small details in our fraction of the millimeter that allow the Def the Defraction of the electromagnetic to allow very fast communication, which will allow to build a new V2 V a vehicle to vehicle Solution to.
Mark Pinder (12:51):
Dror Danai (12:51):
Accidents. So we are helping humanity in a way that maybe when I joined the industry, I didn't even think.
Mark Pinder (12:57):
And I, and I think, um, you know, just talking to you is getting me excited, as I say, four weeks in sort of the additive manufacturing technology, you know, immersed in it now, um, you know what, that's why you can, you can see the, the tangible excitement, even in the conference today. You know, that there's more, there's something more meaningful than just as you say, trying to achieve a more cost effective production process. There's actually a story behind it. Isn't it? And it's, and I think that's what, you know, people ask the question, oh, why are you guys still in am? Cuz you know, the last 20 years you've currently still been prototyping, I think it's that, that access and that vision and that, and that true flexibility in what it can unlock, obviously like anything there's always barriers that we need to overcome. Just from your point of view, what do you see as the barriers, you know today? Um, and how are you dealing with that from your side?
Dror Danai (13:56):
Well, there are few levels to look in barriers. I mean, one clear barrier today is that, uh, the post, uh, pandemic situation globally yeah. Makes it harder to recruit and, and to, you know, to allow the growth that we are looking on, we are finally out know, we are back to production. We are back to growth, back to sales and, and, and, and just, we need the, to enable us. So this is a one big, uh, challenge, um, hopefully a podcast like that and many other activities like what you're doing and we are doing back home, uh, will improve the, and I think to attract young, uh, people like yourself, uh, into this, uh, growing industry. And, and I think it's working. Um,
Mark Pinder (14:47):
Do you, do you, do you collaborate with any universities? I mean, from my point of view, again, it was, um, I made a reference in a previous podcast about, you know, uh, not so much conditioning, but making, you know, the young adults aware of this technology and, and really starting it from the, the grassroots, you know, so that these guys were aware of this particular, you know, technology and that will enable, you know, to entice the talent and, and grow the industry with, you know, essentially a talent pool that'll carry us through to that production scale. Uh, are you doing anything on that AB
Dror Danai (15:22):
Absolutely. Yeah. And, uh, as a veteran of the industry, one of the veterans of the industry for relatively long time, I'm invited and it works. I'm invited to give like presentations in front of, uh, um, universities and back home and in other countries. So we do that and we try to do other activities and corporations with, uh, the academia. We already have few installations in universities around the world. So that's also supporting this, uh, another challenge if I may is the supply chain. Yeah. And, uh, on one hand we are very happy to entertain a growing demand and growing interest in, in our technology, but at the same time, the cost of shipment and, and even regardless of the price, just the availability to commit to a reasonable shipping time becomes a hurdle even to bring the machine here. Uh, we didn't take the risk and just ship the machine from rapid, which was about two months before from next, we shipped it directly from the US yeah. To Germany, just not to take the risk that it doesn't come on time. <affirmative> now in the old days, two months was long time here. We were like, yeah, crossing our fingers to make sure that it would arrive on time for the setting. So this is the kind of challenges. This is very global. And then I, I, I, I must say that I don't know how to, you know, to do that. We are trying to, you know, to predict better our needs and to do a better internal job, but, uh, hopefully it's a global situation will improve and, you know, things will.
Mark Pinder (17:04):
Yeah. Do, do you think that, I mean the pandemic and the kind of bounce back from the economy and the logistical demands that's created throughout the whole supply chain, do you think that has influenced the, again, the, the versatility of the AM market because ultimately I see AM providing much easier inventory management, um, you know, programs and having, you know, again, the thing about AM is you don't need all the stock, right. And if you had AM technologies, local, um, and accessible, essentially, you know, you can really reduce the impact on supply chain because, you know, it's within your domestic control. So I do think possibly
Dror Danai (17:46):
This is, this is extremely true. And, and we see that here on the show floor in almost every other meeting, people mentioned that people say we used to outsource it for another far country, but we cannot rely on that. Yeah. Other kind of inputs that I got back home just a few weeks ago, from one of the largest makers in world, he says, we are production line. We sold one machine to, to create a backup for the production line. The production line is for running for few decades. Now they need jigs and fixtures. They cannot allow themselves to build an inventory of every possible part of the machine. You don't know what will go wrong. Yep. And, and by the way, exit cannot provide all the different jigs and fixtures. So they went and purchased different solutions or different scale and for different materials, but they better by the tool to create a fixture rather than by any fixture in the world that gives them the flexibility.
Mark Pinder (18:54):
Dror Danai (18:55):
To be self maintained and allows the levels of flexibility that are really necessary for production lines that are around 24 7, and any possible flow can create a stop. And basically still all down the business in times that, uh, you know, the demand is growing yeah, many Products.
Mark Pinder (19:14):
I, I think the trend is growing, isn't it? Because again, supply chain risk management is, is crucial, right. Um, in modern air management. So, you know, that is only gonna enable, you know, further adoption of AM technologies. And that's a really good, a good example of, you know, U utilizing AM to essentially overcome a, a solution, you know, overcome a challenge and ultimately provide a solution to our customers. I, I mean, the only other sort of, I won't call it a barrier, but something that is quite relevant in terms of topic is the cop 26 conference in terms of the climate, um, AM in terms of reusability, what considerations have you made yet in terms of how your carbon footprint, how your, your reusability strategy, what are you guys doing in the marketplace to sort of, you know, again, it's an ecosystem. The, the, the sooner we actually look at it from a holistic perspective, they're easy. It's gonna be to be a sustainable one.
Dror Danai (20:17):
Uh, I, I, I, I think the work that we do or the work that we did in the creation of our, I think the only powderless solution in the industry is first and at most to reduce waste and to reduce all the negative potential effects. And, and, and everybody in this industry is doing great job in bringing great technology in the hands of the users. Uh, but I think we took one step forward by using direct jetting and not binder jetting and other great technologies like selected laser centering and all these great technologies of the past use powder bed. And then they do the fusion by laser electron waves or recently in the last decade by adding a bonding agent called binder. So all these solutions were based on a big powder bed, which held a lot of material. Yeah. Some of it had to be wasted.
Dror Danai (21:22):
Not all of it. Of course, they are improving all the time. They're doing great job, by the way. I, I visited some of them, some friends work for them, they're doing great progress. And the amount of waste is dwindling, but the cloud, the direct jetting approach of ExJet where we print only when necessary. So we start from a scratch, we start with an empty tray like this table. And we put, we jet a suspension that holds the sub powder particles exactly. And only where needed. So basically you don't have any waste and you don't need to have powder waiting for you and not being used. You use only the amount that you need, and it comes in the simple sealed cartridge. So also you take away some risk in management. Yeah. And operation of, of, of the whole thing. The other thing is, um, the, soluble support that we introduced a couple of years ago and won the TC award, by the way, that's an interesting story that maybe the listeners did many people didn't notice just before. COVID the very last, uh, innovation award oft for materials was awarded, uh, to our soluable support. Now it's very unusual because in the history of tct always the material innovation award was giving to a material. That part of the part, the part that people use. Yeah. We manage to convince in our application, the committee that we can actually, my team resisted when I came with this idea to submit the support structure to the competition, people say, that's impossible. It's a competition about, you know, materials and people think about the materials and the part, but the real revolution that XJET brought to the industry two years ago was the so support because by having so support, it's not only that you can make now geo geometry and much thinner challenge than anybody else. It's not that it's, it's, it's, it's the mere fact that you get rid of the entire support and you don't use the metal material to create support structure. You use something which is organic clean that can go down the drain and, and you get rid of it very easily.
Mark Pinder (23:41):
Yeah. I think that, um, I think just go to demonstrate various technologies and innovation that are working towards eliminating that, um, you know, that waste product to make it a sustainable technology. And of course, you know, there is different technologies to meet different parameters within different applications. So I think we've again, within an, an additive of technology, you know, we all have to consider these, these, um, these challenges. And I think frankly, you know, even on the powder side now, even on the laser, uh, powder bed fusion that, uh, you know, we're bringing solutions that are actually, you know, we're working with and use essentially to optimize and utilize, you know, a, a brow broader spectrum of material. So I think that it's good to get your spin on your technology to solve, or at least meet the sustainability criteria that we need to anyway, uh, draw. It's been an absolute, uh, pleasure and thanks for your time and well, uh, yeah, call that a day. Thank you.
Dror Danai (24:44):
Thank you so much. Pleasure to be here.
Mark Pinder (24:46):
Thanks very much to Dror for joining us on PowderHeads. His journey in AM like so many who work in this space is filled with excitement, passion, and focus. If you have questions or comments about what we discussed in this podcast PowderHeads, send them to email@example.com or visit our podcast page at www.carpenteradditive.com/powderheads. We continue to build an archive of all of our interviews there as well as additional material that provides insight and perspective on modern day additive manufacturing. PowderHeads is managed by Carpenter Additive and its parent company Carpenter Technology, a global leader in specialty alloys for over 130 years. Our goal is to help solve their most challenging material process problems. Learn more at CarpenterTechnology.com. Thanks again for listening and keep building!
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