PowderHeads: Episode 4

Predictive Manufacturing with Shane Fox

The foundation of the industry is there to scale, but are Excel spreadsheets and closed data loops holding back the digital manufacturing revolution? Join us to hear the founder of Link3D, Shane Fox, talk about the challenges in achieving predictive manufacturing to help humans make better decisions with smarter technology and how forward-thinking leaders push collaboration to advance the entire industry.

Listen to the full episode or read the transcript below. 


Full Transcript 

INTRO (00:10):
Hi everyone. And welcome to PowderHeads, a Carpenter Additive podcast. With each episode of PowderHeads, we bring you the minds of industry experts and delve in a top, they're defining how additive manufacturing is making an impact on our world. We've got a great one for you. In today's episode, as Ben Ferrar, Vice President of Carpenter Additive sits down with Shane Fox CEO of Link3D, a software platform for scaling additive manufacturing infrastructure. Shane provides a lively overview of how he got into AM and what those early days were like from glow trotting. As an executive, he saw an opportunity to develop a business platform for am that enabled people to do their jobs better and more creatively. Ben and Shane dig deep into the benefits of software that help humans make better decisions and reinforcing the point that software is not about replacing people at all. Thanks for listening to PowderHeads and enjoy the conversation.

Ben Ferrar (01:07):
Welcome to PowderHeads today. We're talking to Shane Fox, the CEO of Link3D. Shane, welcome to the show.

Shane Fox (01:15):
Thank you very much, Ben.

Ben Ferrar (01:18):
So, uh, I think our intra, uh, our listeners will be really interested to hear about your additive journey. Do you want to, do you want to talk us through how, how and why you are, where you are now?

Shane Fox (01:29):
Yeah, yeah. I'd love to, it's a long story, so I'll try to, to make it short. But, um, so I, I discovered additive, uh, about 10 years ago. So basically out of university, um, I joined a company called within technologies, so, um, kind of a legacy brand. A lot of people know it from the, you know, the, the second, uh, revolution of 3D printing. Um, and, and, uh, you know, I had, I had two buddies that started the company and they asked if they can sleep on my couch in New York city. And I said, are you still doing that startup thing? You know, cause I wanted to work at a hedge fund eventually. And uh, I said, yeah, yeah. So they came and they had showed me, uh, a prototype for a customer. I, I won't say the, but it was a heat exchange and it was all, it was printed in nickel alloy.

Shane Fox (02:28):
And I was hooked. I was like, wait, what? Cause I had thought then, you know, that's when we all thought 3D printing was, you know, going to be on every desktop or every kitchen table on our house. And we were going to, you know, print our silverware and toys and, you know, become, uh, all makers on our own. So when I saw that I was fascinated, you know, fascinated. I actually think some of the, some of the patterns L P w actually at that time. And, uh, so, you know, I, I, I called my dad. I said, Hey, I'm moving to London. I'm not really going to make any money. I'm going to to go work for this industrial 3D printing startup company that Ian Kave started. And I was like, okay, that that's, that's smart. So, so I went and I joined them and, you know, the really cool thing was I got to, you know, I was fortunate cause I, I got to see the, the research side, like the beginning of production, the beginning of, you know, kind of the industrialization of the industry.

Shane Fox (03:27):
Cause I think we all thought of it as a prototyping or, uh, a research tool at the time. And, um, you know, and it was, it was really, it was a great experience and, you know, we were the, to bring technology optimization to additive and there was a lot of first at that company and, you know, that's, you know, where I, where I learned additive, it's where I learned business. It's where I learned marketing. It's where I learned engineering and design. And, you know, I think the thing that attracted me most was you could be a rebel. You could break all the boundaries and barriers of traditional and engineering and really start thinking outside the box. So you were giving, you know, all these brilliant minds, a tool that, you know, could release what was in their brain, you know, onto, you know, essentially a CAD system that could actually be manufactured.

Shane Fox (04:14):
And it was really cool. And, um, the company did really well and we sold it to Autodesk in 2014. And you know, I think the, the purpose of me talking about this is, you know, when I was at Autodesk, you know, I, it was awesome. I had a corporate credit card, I had a real salary and I was working for a real company on the cutting edge of, you know, all sorts of different technologies and innovations. And I got to travel around the world for 18 months. I think it was in 36 countries. And I went to all the premier, Autodesk customers, all of the, the trade shows like been, you probably remember like Euro old was before. Yeah, obviously. Yeah. And, uh, and I, I, and I used to go to this conference called Medica and it was like 10 halls full of everything from screws to military hospitals for the medical space.

Shane Fox (05:07):
And, and, uh, and I started just seeing boots pop up and people with titles of additives show up and, you know, companies like Lockheed and BMW and, and, and, and, uh, forward. And, you know, all these companies with these iconic brands starting to show up, buying the tools, coming to the trade shows, starting to do talks around their research. And what I realized was the, the foundation for the industry to scale was there, you had a lot of leaders and a lot of thought leaders, and a lot of companies were it's powerful manufacturing, supply chain getting into the space. And so as I was going around talking about the Autodesk tools and, um, you know, I just started watching people's processes and, you know, going into manufacturing floors and watching people organize jobs on a whiteboard and, you know, looking at homegrown Excel sheets for scheduling and, you know, email order entry forms and customized share points. And at the time, I didn't know, it was MES and QMS and an operating system that was missing. But I was like, man, this technology's crazy. We're shooting laser BES out of, you know, out of devices, melting metal and, or centering metal and creating these insane objects. And this is how the managing the, the workflow and the quality, I just didn't make sense to me. And

Ben Ferrar (06:35):
I mean, when you, when you think even even five years ago, right? I mean, the stuff people were doing in additive, how, you know, labor intensive, you know, qualifying anything was right. How many Excel spreadsheets there, there still are. Right. In, in the manufacturing of these super complex components. It's crazy.

Shane Fox (06:57):
Yep. Just didn't make sense. I was like, we're in the digital era, but everything else is in the analog state, I just was like, this just doesn't make sense. So, you know, the cool part was link three. I, I don't want to like, you know, talk about Link3D for this whole thing or, or promote us, but you know, what, what I, what I real lies was that there was a better way to do it in a much more optimal fashion that would allow people to do their actual jobs, like think and design and be creative and, um, you know, assemble and, um, you know, innovate essentially rather than doing all this manual paperwork and building these homegrown systems. It just seemed crazy. So, you know, Link3D was really born from a product, not a company, we're a product company rather than a company product. And for us, it's always been about the customer for me personally, it's always been about I'm lazy naturally. So I want as much as much technology that can help me, let me think, stare out the window and ponder great ideas or something. Cool. That's what I want to do my job most efficiently. So I was just like, well, why not? You know, so what was left Autodesk? 

Ben Ferrar (08:15):
That was the day that you, you made that decision, right? What was the, what was the final straw that, that made you, you know, make the change?

Shane Fox (08:26):
Well, it was a funny story. So when I was 10 years old, I thought I invented the Chalupa from taco bell. This is all going to make sense. So the Chalupa is that taco where it has a soft shell, the cheese, and then the hard and the middle. And I remember going to talk about, be like, you know, you could get the, this cheese thing, they should put it all together. And then it came out. And I remember thinking in my brain, like I thought of that idea and I don't know for whatever reason, I, I mean, I didn't really think of that in the moment, but I said, well, this idea just makes sense. Right? One, I, I, I want to start my, I want to be on my own again. I want to start another software company. I, I want to disrupt, I want to change things and I want to have fun and I don't want to have a boss.

Shane Fox (09:13):
And then part of the two is I don't want to miss the opportunity cause someone else is going to do it. Right. It's only a matter of time before additive was going to request this, you know, there was going to be more demand for it. I, I just knew it. I had a gut feeling and I was just like, well, I got nothing else to lose. Right. And, uh, so I, I, I talked to the CEO and the CTO at the time, and this is what I want to do. And Autodesk is amazing. I mean, the so many entrepreneurs and, you know, software innovators and engineers come from ODI. Right. It's, it's amazing. Like the alumni network from, from that company is just mind bending. I mean, there's constantly a run across founders and, you know, executives and CTOs and engineers that came from OES. They were like, do it, awesome. Go do it. And that was it. I quit, or I designed. And, uh, and I started Link3D in 2016 in my kitchen, in, in New York city with my partner Al think.

Ben Ferrar (10:16):
Yeah. Great. I mean, it's a great story and I bet those early days were exciting while you were trying to figure out what you're going to, what you're going to do. Yeah. I like that. I do, you know, do you know, I haven't, I haven't had taco bell yet, but, um, but I will have to, now I'm going to have to try one of those.

Shane Fox (10:33):
You're going to have to, it's the Chi lupus Supreme man. It's the best. But anyway, so I'm sorry, what were you saying?

Ben Ferrar (10:39):
I say, and so, so when you, when you first started, what did you, what did you think was going to be your main product and solution and how has that changed in the last five years?

Shane Fox (10:51):
That's a great question. I did not think it was going to be an operating system with core applications of MES QMS and simulation tools. I did not think that, you know, when haw and I got together, we, the, the, the first initial idea that I had was when I was at Autodesk, I saw how hard it were, was for people to quote jobs, um, you know, with taking days, right. And, and Ben, I'm sure you've been through this process. You know, these complex geometries complex build tight tolerances, 101 different types of quality assurance you have to, to, to, to go by different post processing. I mean, there's just so much that goes into it. So I had this bright idea, well, I'll just create a simulation tool that just does it all automatically. And I, so I thought at that time, well, you know, create it right.

Shane Fox (11:47):
It's easy little did I, you know, know how complicated it was going to be to go through geometric simulation and, you know, have ifs and thens and, uh, post production, possibilities, and design and engineering time and quality and all the things that actually go in when a company like carpenter actually figures out a price for a customer it's overwhelming, you know, and I, and it, it's amazing, you know, when you actually look at the process. So, so we started, we said, okay, well, you know, there's only 500 models of machines, you know? Yeah. We just have to create a simulation tool for every single one. And, uh, so, so, you know, we compiled this, uh, we were sitting in my living room and we had, uh, turn who was a friend and we scoured the internet for every machine, every model. And then we said, well, okay, well, we need to know all the materials that the machines run and the combination.

Shane Fox (12:44):
So then we started building a spreadsheet of all of the material, and then we realized, well, there's nothing, there's TD, there's 3D. We started running those parameters and every machine has 101 infinite combinations of parameters you can do. Um, so we kind of, after like six months, we're like, this is going to be tough. This is going to be a tough one. So we started with one machine, uh, I think the first machine we focused on was EOS. And I had relations ships from years past. And we started working with them on, you know, just different design rules and orientation rules and parameters and hatching and contours to really just understand their virtual machine and, and how the actual production happened. And, you know, we just started going through that process slowly but shortly. And, you know, we had gotten about eight to 10 of the major machine manufacturers kind of figured out and kind of like 50% simulation time.

Shane Fox (13:47):
And, uh, so we, you know, we got really excited and, you know, I called the friend that I knew at an aerospace company. And I said, Hey, you know, I, I'm watching this new company, you check out this tool, he checks it out. He's like, well, it's wrong. Um, but if you got it right, we would then need this. And he was like, we need planning tools. Cause what happens after you quote it and you cost, it said, okay. So we started looking at planning tools, creating digital travelers and production plans and all this, you know, all this workflows to, and then I went to another guy in Italy that I had sold software to at, within who ran a really big, uh, contract manufacturing said, well, if you got these two things, right, how do I schedule it? You know, I, I, I need to actually schedule these jobs and block out and know my queue.

Shane Fox (14:35):
And I was like, okay, so we'll go and build a, and literally that first 18 months, thank God I had friends that I had basically given software probably free, right at, within or Autodesk, or I'd given really good deals. And they were willing to help us. So by the end of the first year and a half, we ended up with this massive end to end platform from order entry, costing planning, production, uh post-production and started doing analytics. Then of course, you know, we're like, okay, we're ready to, to launch this product in 2018. And the first customers like, well, I'd buy it. If you had connectivity to my machine, I'm like, oh my God, what did that mean? You know? So, so then, you know, as we all know in the industry, that is not an easy feat. So then here I am going to the machine manufacturers like Stratasys and HP and EOS and being like, Hey, you guys know me open up your machines to me.

Shane Fox (15:32):
And they're like, yeah, not a chance. Right? So what we did is we kind of got, you know, uh, a consortium of potential customers, right? Or free users of our platform that were testing it. And we got them to believe in the product. We got them to believe that this was going to be, um, beneficial to them, their overall operation, that it was going to help them achieve predictive manufacturing in the future. And that they were actually going to get a return on their investment from additive. That's all, really, anyone cared about how is this going to help me achieve ROI because I'm not achieving it right now. And then luckily they spoke up for us. You know, I had a really good friend at Flextronics, Elon blouse. I hope he listens to this. He went to Stratasys and said, look, I won't buy your machines. If you guys don't connect to Link3D. And that's when I realized we're onto something, right. We're the, the software's, you know, the software's doing what we're promising and we're getting, you know, very forward thinking folks at companies to help push the message.

Ben Ferrar (16:39):
I bet at that point, that was a huge relief, right after years, three years of grind. Right. You know, it's like that validation moment, right.

Shane Fox (16:48):
It was until you realize that every machine maker has their own drivers and connectivity strategy and the there's no standards. So we're like, oh my God. But yeah, it was, I mean, the, the, the first, like the first dollar that someone paid for the technology was the best day of my life. Cause it's like, you, you, I mean, you, there's a book. I, by mark Jason and Ben, Ho's called the hard thing about the hard things. And in this book, there's two pages and it's called the struggle. Anyone who wants to start a company, I highly recommend you read these two pages because it's gutting. I mean, you, you read this, guy's struggle of what was going on at his company in the early 2000. And you're just like gutted. But at the end, he says, if you're strong, many are not strong, you'll get through it.

Shane Fox (17:44):
And you read this and I've bend it. You know, laying on the floor in fetal position, crying, cheering, happy you raise your first dollar. You know, you, you, you, you literally must faint because someone actually believes in you, the funder company, then you realize, oh my God, I have a board and I'm responsible. And I have to generate revenue and I have to produce something now. And to the culmination of all that, you know, flex was our first customer. And I, I could, could talk about that was the best day of my life. I was like, someone, you know, someone's hanging my piece of art on their wall. Right? Yeah. And, and, and then people start using it and you start getting feedback. Like this has made my life easier. And this has helped me do my job better. And we're able to qualify parts quicker, whatever the case is.

Shane Fox (18:25):
And you're like, you know, you delivered on your promise, you, and you deliver it on your word. And that's, that's million times better than the second and third customer, it's way better than an acquisition. It's way better than a promotion. It's way better than anything. Right. That validation, knowing that, you know, your people told you you were nuts, or like, you know, my dad would say, why are you going to leave Autodesk? You have health insurance. You're a great job. You know, you respect it, you know, and you, you, you take the plunge. And so, so, yeah, but, but like we were saying that to come back, you know, the evolution of the product was, was not by design. It wasn't that we were the smartest people in the room. It was that we luckily had leaders in the space, right? True leaders, manufacturing leaders, believing in us and saying, Hey, if you guys have this, if you have this, and now, you know, customers come together and they, you know, in our user groups, they participate in our roadmap and our development and our critical feedback for the system. And, and it just keeps evolving. But you know, it started as a quoting and costing engine and it into an operating system for manufacturing.

Ben Ferrar (19:34):
So, so now if you think forward five more years, right? What are the big challenges that you think you're going to have to overcome?

Shane Fox (19:44):
Huh? I they're endless. Right. I mean, there's challenges every day, but if you look out a years, scalability, you know, you look at, you have to, like for us, you know, something that we pride ourselves in is the architecture of the product. But, but more importantly is we, we want to adopt the latest and greatest technology tech needs to bring to the customer. So for us, a huge focus over the next five years is an, is IOT. Right? We hear that buzzword constantly. You know, I, I've tried to Google what IOT means, you know, five years ago and you know, is, I couldn't understand it. And I think what school is when, when you take these buzzword and you start breaking them down in finding a solution to someone's problem, right? You can then say, that's IOT, right. Or that's a data lake, or that's the simulation, whatever the case is.

Shane Fox (20:47):
So for us, it's connectivity to the machines and it's not just, you know, we, you know, from, from the industry's perspective, we need standards. We need standards around the technology. Um, we need machine makers to open up, not just the Link3D link to are these competitors and other systems, right. We need the industry to open up more to connect that digital thread, which is another buzzword that drives me crazy, but it's starting to finally make sense to me to be able to pass and pull data is one thing. And to be able to collect data is another, but to be able to process it, and then it back to somebody to help them predict or identify a bottleneck or to optimize a workflow, that's really what it all means. Right? So for us, it's, it's ingesting and compiling and processing data and IOT and, and the IOT. They kind of sit together because we need to collect information from the technology to understand the technology better. So we can design better. We can manufacture better. We can assemble better. We can get to quality and regulatory bodies faster. Cause at this pace, nothing scaling because it's just too slow. So we have to take advantage of this stuff.

Ben Ferrar (22:07):
You, you have, have to provide people with tools to enable them to make decisions, right. Especially with the technology, with such a huge number of variables, right? It's, it's even more important to be able to pinpoint, you know, how, you know, how you can translate those numbers and that data into decisions. Right? Um, you, you touched on a point, which I think, uh, we've seen a lot of thought leadership and a lot of collaboration from Link3D over the last, you know, 12 months. And especially with over the last six months with the pandemic, really enabling the community to, to open up and talk to each other. How, how, how do you feel about the attitudes towards collaboration within the am industry?

Shane Fox (22:58):
The must, no, we will all, if, if we do not collaborate, we will all die together. I truly believe that not philosophically, uh, and not in a drama sense. There is not one single player who can do it all. And in order for the industry to scale, I get asked this question a lot in order for this industry to scale and to prove itself as a new and another form or another technique to manufacture, we have to work together. We just have to, you have to systems have to be open. You have to, I mean, you, you should be able to buy a machine and buy material from anybody that you want. Right. I mean, that's one thing you should be able to buy a machine and understand what's going on in the machine. In real time, you should be able to buy software and push and pull the information from one system to the other.

Shane Fox (23:53):
I mean, this is like rudimentary collaboration. And I think the industry's getting there, but it's been so closed for so long. I mean, collaboration is a must. And to be honest, I mean, you know, being the CEO, I also get it right. We get a lot of companies, which, which is, you know, I'm flattered and I'm humbled by it. They come to us say, Hey, we want to integrate. We want to partner with you. We want to work with you. And now I get younger Shanes five years ago when I would go to the machine making makers and they would say, we would bring me use case or no. Or we, we can't fit you in our development cycle. We need the customer to really speak up and say what they need and what they want. Right. Cause we can sit here and innovate and build and create and go nuts right.

Shane Fox (24:36):
All day long. But we don't actually know if that's what the customer truly needs. So I, I, you know, for me, it's, I luckily it just like intuition, as I said, well, one day I was like, well, wait a minute. If we have this customer paying and they want this, and they're a Marky customer of a bill prep, let's say, why don't I just have this guy tell the bill prep company, I won't say the name. You should open up the Link3D. We need to pass information through. And I've started, you know, and now my sales guys and you Shaw and every, and we just leverage the customer and their voice. You know, we sit down and say, what, you know, I think what's important too, is where do you want to be in 10 years? Who cares about today? We'll we'll get today, but where do you, where what's your five to 10 year digital manufacturing strategy say, what does that mean to you?

Shane Fox (25:24):
How do you want to integrate all of this, you know, into your, your business. And then we start working backwards and you know, like Jim who runs our customer ops, who then, you know, and you show, these guys are just really good at helping the customer, understand how to get where they know they need to go, but they know where they want to go and then backtracking and then leverage that for the, the collaboration. And I don't know what you think, but I, I think the industry's become much more collaborative and much more open. We still have ways to go, but it seems like it's been getting better.

Ben Ferrar (26:01):
Yeah, I agree. I mean, I think people are, people are recognizing the complexity of what we're dealing with. You know, I, I, my, my major process is, uh, is laser powder bed fusion. And you take any sort of machine that has laser optics, gas flow, metal powder, you know, inner atmospheres. It, it is a hugely complex physic you know, process in terms of physics and, and harnessing, you know, the information that we have to be able to make decisions is critical. And I, and I see the, the data management processes that we go through is the huge enabler there. So if people aren't collaborative in sharing, you know, the, that information, then we don't all move forward.

Shane Fox (26:46):
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and you know, something else that you said that I can appreciate, and, and I know it scares people is that we need, we need smarter technology, helping make humans make better decisions, not play right. Helping them make smarter decisions. It's like when I was at Autodesk and Autodesk was coming out with dream catcher and generator design, people were freaked out at companies cause they thought, well, why I won't need to engineer? It's like, no, no, no. This tool was going to help you make in a split sick second, what would take you weeks? Or for years to figure out a split second, the best design rules of the best design parameters or the best functional use of something. And I think that's the same thing with software, right? People fear a lot of people fear software, cuz they think it's going to, automation will replace their job or robots or specific hardware. And the goal is, you know, to create what higher, higher paying jobs, more educated jobs, more technically focused jobs. And, and, and who wants to document quality assurance information from machine manually who wants to like, sit there, look through all that stuff when you can literally have software do for you. Right. And you can spend your time doing what you're really be doing. So I, I just, I appreciate that point that you brought up.

Ben Ferrar (28:08):
I, I remember a time where we'd be running the am machines and you know, you'd, you'd leave the facility and you'd hook a webcam up pointing into the machine so you could see into it and then you'd dial in from your phone when you got home. And you'd literally go into bed at night, like watching, hoping that it's going to be okay when you wake up in the morning, you know, and you think that's, it's crazy. Right. But it is also the evolution of technology, right? That there's so many things and so many things that can go wrong, right. That it required a human. Then now, you know, now in the last 10 years is we've developed such a better understanding of these processes that 90% of those decisions can be done by image analysis or 90% of those decisions can be done by, you know, by reviewing data. And, and I think, uh, I think where we fall down today is connecting all the different day data from the different steps. Right? Yep.

Shane Fox (29:09):
Yep. I, I agree. Well, you know, I think something that's cool is one thing that, you know, Al is like a crazy scientist. This, the only person who I know loves quarantine is Al he could sit in his office and research and research and develop and develop all day long. And he, if it was up to him, he'd never leave his room. Right. And the one thing he's so focused on right now that we've been talking about is how can you apply image based recognition to not just quality, but to also help the, the, the additive technician in the orientation process and the support generation process. And then maybe how can you take that info and provide it to the engineer to design a more sustainable part to be printed. So we're looking at, you know, what's, what's, what's really cool is, you know, now you have these embedded sensors and these cameras in the machines, but the crazy, the one thing I always found nuts is that one, you have to sit on your phone and watch layer by layer who no, one's probably doing that. And then try to figure out, wait,

Ben Ferrar (30:17):
People are, people are people.

Shane Fox (30:19):
Yeah. People are, but who I would, it's crazy. Right? Like, uh, did the recorders skip there? Or, you know, or how do you know, is there a little bit of PO, is there that, like you just don't know? Right. So one thing we're saying is, well, wait a minute, you have these like crazy hardcore cameras, right inside these machines, you have all of these sensors and you go through a 10 day bill, right. Carpenters, probably doing some hardcore stuff. These are not, you know, two hour bills I would imagine. And you go through this bill process, you might even go through post-procesing all the steps. And then you get to quality assurance and you realize, yeah, you got to throw the part away. Right. I mean, this is an extreme example, but yeah. You know, it happens. 

Ben Ferrar (30:57):
Not that extreme. Right. It does happen, but it,

Shane Fox (31:00):
But if you can identify, okay, I have a, a 6,000 layer job and at layer 246, there was an issue because a simple image with some image based recognition identifies something. Maybe you can correct it. Maybe you could stop and restart, uh, just like simple things. Right. And so that's like the part of the predictive side, like I'm not, you know, people use AI and ML and all sorts of crazy ways. Right. Like I hear it all the time. I'm like, you know, it's like, you know, when, um, greenwash, what's that thing, everyone everyone's lead, everyone's this sustainable, this and that. And you just everything's organic. Right. You're like, what does it actually mean? And I, my thing is like, well, how do you take all this hardcore technology and all these hardcore theories? How do you apply them to actually something that matters? Right.

Shane Fox (31:50):
And so we, you know, we, we were in vial and I were in Japan, um, before coronavirus. And we had some, some research on this and we were talking to a group that, that, uh, you know, runs, runs machines. And, and they were like telling us about how many print failures and how many times have to start and stop throw things away. And, you know, the yield is 80%. We need it to be a hundred. We can't make this cost effective. Right. We let's think about stopping out this because we just can't. So we present this concept and you just break it down simply. Right. You don't have to say, oh, the AI, the ML, you look, what if we can identify in this layer through an image, right. That you may have some sit or you may have porosity or a gas bubble, or, you know, the, the humidity sensors went down or up or whatever it is, you know, would that help? And they're like, well, of course we need that. Right. So it's like trying to find the practical applications. Um, and like we were just saying, I mean, sometimes I, I I'm even amazed when I, when I see the processes, people go through to make a part I'm like, geez, man.

Shane Fox (32:53):
So complicated.

Ben Ferrar (32:55):
Well, you, you take a, a hugely technical process to a hugely complex component. And then the end process is someone manually feling it. And finishing it to make it the right shape. Right. I it's, it's a, we, we are, we're still a little way away, but I mean, we've come on leaps and bounds. I mean, I guess as a, as a sort of a final topic in question, um, what would you, what would you say to someone who's sat there in their room now, thinking of starting up an additive business

Shane Fox (33:28):
Depends. Right. I, I mean, what a cool industry, I mean, it's so corny and so nerdy, but additive makes manufacturing cool. That's for sure. I mean, if you look at like, you stare it into an EOS machine or any DMLS machine, and it's like, what is going on? There's laser beams and fire mesmerizing. Awesome. Yeah. It's mesmerizing, you know, and I think, you know, it, it, you know, I think the unfortunate thing is we, I want the, you know, one thing is when we hire here, we, we bring in people from zero additive background. Right. You know, so I think if you're, if you love manufacturing or you love engineering, or you love being creative, you know, it's an artistic form, you know, obviously we need the artesian approach to dive down a little bit to scale it. But you, at the end of the day, you know, it's an Artes, all manufacturing is art.

Shane Fox (34:25):
Right. And I, you know, I think if you, if you have the right use case and the right product market fit and the tenacity to, to be told no, and, you know, deal with the ups and downs of just starting a business, whether it's software hard to wear service bureau, whatever it may be design consultancy. You know, if, if you, if you have the gut or the stomach to be told, no, and to fail, but, you know, fail, learn, fail, learn, fail, learn, then you should do it. And it's, uh, the industry still needs innovation, right? Every industry needs innovation, no industry is, you know, I mean, look at SpaceX, you know, no one ever thought a private company could send rockets, you know, to the, the space station. And Neil Musk was like, well, I could do it. He just did it. You know, he reinvented that whole industry. So I, my, my, my, my biggest piece of advice, like I've talked to students and, you know, I have been really fortunate and I always say, be a product company first, right. Be born from a need and a product rather than I want to start a company. And then I want to figure it out, you know, have a product, have a market fit, know that there's a real need that it's scalable. Um, and then do it yeah. Know, and raise a lot of, and raise a lot of money. Yeah,

Ben Ferrar (35:49):
Yeah, no, I can appreciate that. Um, well, it's been, uh, it's been great to have you on the show, Shane, thank you very much for, for joining

Shane Fox (35:56):
Us. My, it was my pleasure. I appreciate you and Carpenter asking me and I, it it's, uh, it's an honor. So I'm, I'm, I'm very thrilled to have done this.

OUTRO (36:08):
Thanks very much to Shane Fox for giving PowderHeads. Some of this time, his infectious energy over this industry comes through crystal clear to PowderHeads everywhere. I particularly like Shane's reference to Link3D being a product company, rather than a company product. It's a business worth watching. If you have questions or comments about what we discussed in this podcast PowderHeads, send them to powderheads@carpenteradditive.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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