Avi Reichental is Co-Founder & Executive Chairman at Nexa3D and Founder, CEO & Chairman at XponentialWorks. As the former President & CEO of 3D Systems, Avi is one of the most experienced executives in Additive Manufacturing (AM) and is actively involved in advancing affordable high-speed manufacturing at scale.
In an exclusive interview with Abhimanyu Chavan, Director at Manufactur3D Magazine, Avi Reichental shares his insights on the role his venture investment, corporate advisory firm XponentialWorks is playing in the growth and success of promising early stage technology companies, challenges on industrialising 3D printing technology, his thoughts on the Indian 3D printing market, integrating advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) with 3D printing and many more.
Q As a venture investment firm, XponentialWorks is committed to invest in growth and success of early-stage 3D printing companies and other companies that offer cutting-edge technologies such as AI, digital manufacturing and ML. How would you describe the role of XponentialWorks and what achievements have been accomplished so far?
A: We seed invest and scale early stage 3D printing companies that we believe have the potential to become tomorrow‘s category leaders in the digital progression from generative design to additive manufacturing and digital cloning. Our achievements is reflected in our 3D printing venture portfolio, which includes companies such as Techniplas, Nexa3D, NXTFactory, ParaMatters, UNYQ and others.
As an example, Techniplas is a global design and manufacturing provider of engineered products and services. It has digitally transformed itself by partnering with 3D generative design and additive manufacturing startups. Working with various startups including ParaMatters, NXT Factory and Nexa3D, Techniplas has developed new capabilities in designing and producing lightweight parts. Techniplas produces parts for some of the world’s biggest auto manufacturers, such as BMW, Daimler, Ford, Toyota, Jeep and others, and the digitization of its business has enabled it to future proof its business model.
Q What prompted XponentialWorks to partner with Nexa3D & Techniplas?
A: We saw excellent potential and opportunity for both Nexa3D and Techniplas, especially when they work together. Techniplas has a long history as a product designer and manufacturing provider for mission-critical automotive and industrial components and assemblies. Nexa3D’s technology offers printing speeds that dramatically reduce production cycles. By working together, they bring new potential to the auto industry, producing exceptionally customized and high-performing parts and features.
Q Are there any other 3D printing companies partnered with XponentialWorks?
A: Our corporate and innovation partners include companies such as Hyperganic, which builds software to design objects that are as complex, functional, elegant and sustainable as nature, NanoDimension that delivers products and services for rapid prototyping and short-run manufacturing that serve the growing demand for circuitry, including PCBs, the heart of every electronic device, Sharebot that offers 3D printing solutions using filament deposition, resin and powders sintering and of course, Techniplas, a leading global design and manufacturing provider of engineered products and services that are helping to shape the future of mobility.
Techniplas is constantly expanding the reach of its data-enabled cognitive technologies to deliver personalized, performance-enhanced and sustainable mobility. Another partner includes XYZprinting, which is global provider of comprehensive 3D printing solutions. It is the number one global brand in desktop 3D printing products and services, and is now moving into the arena of industrial additive manufacturing.
Q How do you foresee the growth of Nexa3D & Techniplas? What future do you see for XponentialWorks?
A: Nexa3D has taken great strides in breaking the speed and size barriers that have held back advances in 3D printing, including within the auto industry. Nexa3D recently launched the NXE 400 which prints at six times the speed and 2.5 times the volume of all comparable 3D printers on the market. It can continuously print up to 16 liters of parts at speeds of up to 1Z centimeter per minute, effectively compressing the time it takes to print prototypes and production parts from hours to minutes.
By adopting Nexa3D’s technology, Techniplas is staying ahead of the competition in automotive and other industrial segments, allowing manufacturers to create innovative features and lightweighted parts and fixtures.
This is just one example of how XponentialWorks is bringing together startups and mature companies to deliver digital transformation and Industry 4.0 preparedness. By guiding large corporations through their digital transformation and investing in early-stage companies, XponentialWorks will create a future with groundbreaking technologies creating the next generation of category makers.
Q Moving ahead, the quality of 3D printers may not be the differentiating factor but materials may well be. What are your efforts on the material front for Nexa3D printers?
A: My sense is that 3D printer development is actually accelerating, with more materials simultaneously becoming available which can be tailored-made for specific applications in dental, aerospace, footwear and healthcare applications. No single company can do it alone. Forming coalitions between early stage innovators and mid-market users with access to the market is key to success. There has never been a more exciting time to participate in additive manufacturing and we are grateful to be part of this exciting industry.
Q What are the main challenges for the 3D printing technology to be adopted on a large or industrial scale, and what can be done to address those challenges?
A: The most challenging limitations to date have been the restrictive speed and size constraints that have limited the ability to print materials at scale. After many years of work and research, however, we have started to see great strides in this area, and we are beginning to see production floor volumes that are comparable to traditional injection-molding and die-casting. This has been accomplished by adapting 3D printing to fit into traditional work-flows and manage design constraints that enhance performance, reduce material usage and are more sustainable than traditional manufacturing processes. On the material side of things, we have also been able to build and cure parts faster with newer chemical systems to produce stronger materials in the final product.
Q What are your thoughts on the integration of AI & Machine Learning in the 3D printing technology?
A: There is huge potential for AI to create generative designs that will alter the future of manufacturing. AI-aided design empowers manufacturers to optimize compositions with extreme ease, and enables designers to experiment, test and optimize concepts that were previously inconceivable. Designers can explore nearly infinite modifications based on existing design concepts that are stronger, lighter and use less material. All of this eventually leads to lower manufacturing costs, increased scalability and efficiency, and enhanced form and function.
Q On a final note, what are your thoughts on the Indian 3D printing Industry? What is the perception you have about it? Do we see Nexa3D entering the Indian Industry this year?
A: India represents a very significant and fast-growing opportunity for 3D printing. This includes expansion for leading suppliers from the rest of the world as well as homegrown technology and products.
Note: This is Manufactur3D Magazine’s first ever interview. In our Experts Q&A section, Abhimanyu Chavan, Director at Manufactur3D Magazine, interviews industry leaders from the Additive Manufacturing community and gain insights from them on the 3D printing technology, the developments in the global 3D printing industry, and also on India’s 3D printing industry in particular.