Interview: Raise3D CEO on how to run a 3D printing business

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How do you run a 3D printing business and what are some
of the important strategic events coming up? In this article an
experienced 3D printing industry leader gives insights into the
future of 3D printing and how to benefit from it.

Raise3D
occupies a position in the market that is increasingly
likely to be contested – that of the mid-tier professional
printer. Last year, the 3D printer manufacturer was shortlisted
in the

3D Printing Industry Awards
by our
readers for the Raise N2 FFF 3D Printer. The company is highly
regarded across the industry for high quality and reliable 3D
printers.

I caught up with Diogo Quental the newly appointed CEO to
find out more about his plans for the company.

Raise3D at CES 2018.Raise3D at CES 2018.

3D Printing Industry: Congratulations on your new position
as CEO at Raise3D. You have earlier experience with several 3D
printing companies, what prompted you to move?

Diogo Quental: There are a lot of amazing
companies and people in 3D printing. So, it was not an
immediate decision. In the current situation of fast market
growth, the management teams must be ambitious to drive the
company to where the market goes. This usually requires a
muscled organization that can adapt quickly. And it is quite a
challenge to the management team, to which corresponds an even
higher challenge – and often an unfair situation – to the rest
of the team. Managing this balance between both teams is not
easy when you need to go fast; very often these teams will have
two different speeds. As a CEO, if you lose touch with the
stakeholders or with the team, either you slow down (not an
option in a fast-growing market) or it’s time for you to pack
& go. I don’t think I am necessarily the best person in
managing these balances – I tend to overspeed. Therefore, I
tried to identify a position in an already fast-growing and
ambitious company.

In Raise3D I have found the fit I was looking for: an
ambitious management team, but also an extremely ambitious,
dedicated, bright and well-prepared team ready to do whatever
takes to reach the company goals. I think we are all growing
together.

3DPI: Can you say more
about your strategy for the company?

DQ: We are adapting our organization to our
understanding about the market outlook.

From the questions we are receiving from Corporate Users
(our target) and all movements we can see in the industry, we
understand there is an acceleration in the transition into
digital additive manufacturing.

We think that Corporations will do this transition in 5
stages:

Acquisition of a couple of units, just for basic
experimentation or prototyping – currently,

corporations that did not reach this stage yet are
probably treating
this topic as urgent;

Acquisition of a small systems (5 to 25 units), for
internal training of key staff. We expect to see

strong demand for this stage in early Q4;

Implementation of small scale pilot projects in
manufacturing, just as a proof of concept. We

expect to see in Q4 demand for this stage coming from
most innovative corporations;

Implementation of real scale pilot projects in
manufacturing, to ensure a full comprehensive

understanding of the process and allow the scale up. We
expect to see in Q3 2019 demand for this;

Gradual implementation of large scale digital additive
manufacturing systems where there is a
business
case. We expect to see in Q1 2020 demand for this stage.

Edward Feng and Diogo Quental from Raise3D. Photo via Raise3D.Edward Feng and Diogo
Quental from Raise3D. Photo via Raise3D.

Digital additive manufacturing, depending on the industry
and application, will require different types of solutions. We
expect desktop based solutions to represent a substantial share
of it as they have some relevant advantages:

Versatility of material and application use:
the system can be used to manufacture different

parts with different materials, and at the same
time;

Ease of use: contrary to industrial 3D
printers based solutions, with desktop based ones the

learning curve is extremely short, which increases the
ROI and reduces the operation risk associated with RH
turnover;

Fully scalable: manufacturers can easily
adapt their investment to their internal stage of development
and to their cash flow;

High Overall Operational Effectiveness:
downtime risk is mitigated by the quantity of units included in
the solution;

Low usage cost: the price of materials to be
used in desktop solutions is lower than
equivalent
materials to be used in industrial solutions;

Low maintenance cost: the level of skills
required, and the cost of spare parts is lower when

compared with industrial solutions.

Our strategic approach is to prepare Raise3D to be a top
contributor in this transition, by offering the right solution
in each stage of the market development. Currently, we are
focusing on:

identifying and developing a close collaboration with the
best Sales Partners, who are a key success factor for the
implementation of our strategy;

gain deep internal knowledge about selected
Vertical Markets and needs of most demanding Corporate
Customers;

aligning the product, filament, software and services’
development roadmap with the expected
market
development.

3DPI: What are your
thoughts about one of the major trends in 3D printing during
2017, that of “traditional” 3D printer manufacturers lowering
prices to compete with newer companies like Raise3D?

DQ: We think it makes all sense and we
will probably meet somewhere in the middle.

The reasons are simple:

On one hand, as the market gets better informed about the
real output of desktop solutions, it becomes clear that a
substantial part of their needs – for which currently they use
the “traditional” solution providers – can now be fulfilled
with printers like the ones Raise3D designs and manufactures.
This puts pressure on the incumbent “traditional” players to
lower the prices of their products.

On the other hand, there is still a substantial gap
between the level of knowledge of those “traditional” players
and companies like Raise3D. This gap still somehow justifies,
at least partially, the price difference for what are
apparently similar solutions, as “traditional” players can
fully understand the needs of Corporate users and provide them
with tailored solutions.

There is a learning curve for companies like Raise3D to
master and this cannot be done without a substantial
investment. Therefore, we also expect a general increase in the
prices of desktop solutions.

3DPI: What can we expect from Raise3D in 2018?

DQ: Well, there is so much to do to in such
fast-growing market, that one can only expect a lot from a
company like Raise3D.

Internally, we are working on our “muscle toning
project”. We know that the market will evolve very fast.
Therefore, if we only focus on providing the best solution for
current needs, there is the risk of ending up with a fat
organization. Instead of that, we want to focus on properly
organizing the company and developing the Team, in such a way
that we can easily evolve with the market. We see the Team as
our most stable competitive advantage.

We are also working to have a closer collaboration with
key Sales Partners in the on-going market transition to digital
additive manufacturing. And we will pursue collaboration with
leading innovation companies, such as the filament
manufacturers who are participating in our Open Filament
Programme.

From a customers’-eye view, all this will translate into
a more knowledgeable Raise3D, with a far better communication,
able to provide Corporate Solutions with an increased value.
This is still a bit early for us to say more, but I mentioned
before that we want to have the right solution in the right
market timing.

3DPI: How do you see the wider 3D printing industry changing
this year?

DQ: Currently, the
level of know-how required to be in the market is quite high
and growing very fast. This is likely to slow down the number
of new 3D printing companies and to put additional pressure on
non-performing ones.

In the meantime, this can also create some interesting
opportunities to large corporate users to have a fast track to
access know-how, by buying players with a poor
performance.

On a different perspective, we expect the gap between
“traditional” 3D printing companies and desktop 3D printing
manufacturers to narrow steadily, thus benefiting Customers and
fuelling further market growth.

It is possible, however, that 2018 will remain in our
memory mainly as the year where materials’ manufacturers will
shine! There is a powerful silent revolution inside the
on-going revolution in the filament that some manufacturers are
bringing to the market. Soon, it will be possible to extrude
new formulas of filament that can be extruded in a normal
desktop FFF printer and, after curing, have properties similar
(maybe even better?) to injected metal. The consequences of
this breakthrough innovation will certainly be huge.

Nominations for the second annual 3D Printing Industry
Awards are now open.

Make your selections now.

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