Roboze Brings Strength to Desktop 3D Printing, Shows Off at RAPID Debut as Global Expansion Continues
Italian company Roboze has established a reputation for high-strength 3D printing at the desktop, making 3D printing with materials such as PEEK and PEI more accessible for users around the world as the company has been focusing efforts on expanding its global presence. Offering the Roboze One and Roboze One +400 3D printers and having established partnerships around the world to distribute its technology, the company opened its US office at the beginning of this month. Hot on the heels of this permanent move into the US market, the Roboze team attended for the first time North America’s largest 3D printing-focused tradeshow as RAPID + TCT ran last week in Pittsburgh.
I talked at the Roboze booth to Gil Lavi, who was appointed VP of EMEA Expansion last year, and who I last saw at formnext in November to talk about Roboze’s business strategies. Lavi is well experienced with formnext and European tradeshows, but noted that this was the first time he (and Roboze) had been to RAPID.
“Back at formnext, we were launching the 400 and focused on Europe; here, the goal was to come very prepared. We have both printers here, working,” Lavi told me at the Roboze booth. “We wanted to come to the US with the best to show, such as our upgraded desktop printer. RAPID is a good opportunity to show that.”
While sometimes catching up after just six months can be a brief conversation, chatting with Lavi was much more animated because of how busy Roboze has been in 2017. As the company continues to roll out new products and partnerships, the move into the US marks a point of no return in the business strategy.
“If you want to be active in an industry, you have to be there,” Lavi said. “It is hard now in the market to differentiate and explain; being here, you can show printers and benchmarks. People need to feel confident, to see the printers in action. It’s an investment for us. Without that, it’s a gamble — you can’t control a territory like the US from Europe. Even though we’re small, this is important to us.”
Roboze’s small team currently includes 20 employees, and the move into NYC marks an expansion not just of geography and presence, but of the company itself as they are looking to hire for five more positions in the US. Even with this growth an ongoing project, there’s no rest for the motivated as Roboze eyes its next geographic target market: Asia. Three months ago, the Italian company launched in South Korea, and is now looking to do an office there, Lavi told me. The key to all these moves is getting the timing just right.
“You have to move not too slow, not too fast,” Lavi said, noting that Roboze’s first customer in the US was GE, which is “big” for them.
Strength in strategy matches the strength Roboze brings to 3D printing, and one big way that the company has been doing this has been in honing in on particular applications that can best benefit from this strength. With less focus on prototyping, Lavi said, the company isn’t looking to traditional materials like ABS as the future of 3D printing, but to “focus on more advanced applications, more end-use products, we’re talking about production, as more applications need better materials.”
While Roboze doesn’t work with metal 3D printing technology per se, metal plating is a big step toward strengthening from plastic offerings; Lavi noted that they can’t print metal, but can print something that can act like metal. Through their collaboration with Israeli company Polymertal, Roboze is plating PEEK and other already-high-strength materials in a 100-micron nickel-copper metal coating that has some conductivity and is significantly stronger than plastic.
“Compare this PEEK to metal, not to PLA,” Lavi said as I handled the reinforced parts. “It doesn’t mean we think it can replace metal printing, but it is on the edge of what’s happening in the industry. Metal is important to customers, but we’re not a metal company. The goal is to take industrial-level printing to the desktop, to enable use of advanced materials on desktop platforms.”
The parts Roboze had at hand did indeed offer the feel of metal — really, really light metal. Up close, some of them retained the look of extruded materials, but they offered a rigidity and durability that you really do have to feel to believe. Several of the parts were so sturdy yet so lightweight I was thankful for the signage reminding me just what materials had gone into creating the parts I held.
Reinforced along with the materials was the philosophy behind Roboze’s current global growth in presence and partnerships, which is being built up on a strong foundation of experience that keeps the team realistic.
“We have the technology, we have the people; if you know where you’re going but run too fast, you get burned. It is very hard in this industry to get a second chance. If the gap is big between what you promise and what you deliver, you have a problem. If that gap is small, the customers are happy,” Lavi explained.
“This perspective is from experience; I have been eleven years in the industry, and now there are hundreds of companies. I’m not smarter than others, just more experienced.”
At RAPID, Lavi and Roboze Founder and CEO Alessio Lorusso demonstrated working 3D printers and examples of their technology. The booth was constantly buzzing with activity, which was a testament to what they had to offer, as they were tucked off in one of the side aisles yet still regularly populated with visitors curious to learn more. We’ll be hearing more from the busy company in the near future, and they will additionally be releasing data sheets about their metal-reinforced capabilities. Discuss in the Roboze forum at 3DPB.com.[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]
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