Exclusive Interview: Rize Introduces New President & CEO, Driving Vision of Inclusion & Sustainability in 3D Printing
Boston-based Rize Inc. introduced its Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD) technology to the 3D printing world last summer, presenting the RIze One: a 3D printer designed for industrial use and essentially removing the constraints of time-consuming post-processing. We’ve been keeping in touch with Rize since their emergence from stealth as they have continued to develop the capabilities of APD and high-strength, minimal-post-processing, meeting at shows around the world as well as in the company’s Woburn headquarters. Progress has continued, with commercial shipments beginning in June as the Rize One has made its way to customers including NASA and branches of the US military. Today, the company announces a step forward for its business operations with the appointment of Andy Kalambi as the new President and Chief Executive Officer, just one day after the announcement of Arif Padaria as the company’s new Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategic Partnerships.
Kalambi, an industry veteran with more than a quarter-century of experience in executive and general management, as well as sales and business development, comes to Rize from Dassault Systèmes, where he held positions including the CEO of the ENOVIA brand and the global executive of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Previous experience additionally includes what Rize details as “a pioneering role in the introduction of ERP and SCM applications through SAP Asia” and qualification as a mechanical engineer. Along with his CV credentials, Kalambi brings with him a personal mission to advance inclusive business practices, prioritizing environmental friendliness as well as equality in social and gender considerations. These aims mesh well with the culture at Rize, which works with non-toxic, recyclable materials and fosters a team built on sustainable, inclusive business operations.
“This is an exciting time for us at Rize. We continue to strengthen our management team and Rize One, the very first printer incorporating our patented and breakthrough APD (Augmented Polymer Deposition) process, is being selected by prestigious customers like the US Army, US Navy, NASA and Merck. Andy’s leadership will help us scale the business globally and enable enterprises worldwide to deliver innovative products and services never before possible,” said Eugene Giller, Founder and CTO of Rize, who had been serving as the company’s President as well.
The shift in executive structure at Rize is indicative of the company’s work toward advancing its technology and operations.To learn more about the objectives for the company, I turned to the source, speaking with Kalambi as he settles in at Rize to gain his perspective on and hopes for his new role.
“I don’t come from 3D printing, I come from the software industry; I’ve been watching this industry from that side. It’s amazing what there has been to see, and interesting now that I’m on the other side,” Kalambi opened, immediately warming to the subject.
To develop a fuller picture of the new CEO’s vision for Rize and its forward trajectory, we first delved back into Kalambi’s professional history and what he brings with him in terms of experience and vision. For the last 17 years, he told me, he was with Dassault Systèmes, working in areas including enterprise software and in the product lifecycle domain. Over the last few years, he was the company’s evangelist for the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, through which he became involved in additive manufacturing as the platform integrates generative design and simulation aspects that feed directly into 3D printing, as we have seen time and again.
“What drew me to this industry and specifically to Rize was two life-long passions: sustainability and inclusion. These are things in my life, personally, which have driven me to many different things. One of the reasons I stayed in DS was it had a strong focus on sustainable innovation. I believe this was a big theme that aligned with my own personal value systems. What I see in additive is the ability to do some of this, to follow my passions,” he said.
Kalambi did not shy away from certain realities of his new industry, such as its relatively early stages of development. While we are witnessing a burgeoning maturation in additive manufacturing as processes continue toward scalable, realizable production, there is, in Kalambi’s words, “a long, long way ahead of it.”
“There’s a lot of interest, players, new technologies coming in; there’s a lot of innovation coming in this space,” he noted.
As we talked, Kalambi circled back often to the key tenets of sustainability and inclusion which are truly shaping his vision for the advances in this industry and, specifically, with Rize.
“What I see with Rize especially is the ability to do things very sustainably in terms of the process, in terms of the product, which was one thing that attracted me. The APD process is a very inclusive process, with discrete manufacturing processes put into one printer, which lends itself to many new possibilities in the future. Not just today, but what it can be today. I’m intrigued with the industry, though I was in the periphery of the industry in my previous role — now being a part of Rize I am front and center in the industry,” he continued.
“I see that additive is still not being done at scale, it is still — most customers are still using use cases, figuring out how to scale it to a level which can be comparable to other manufacturing processes. That’s another area where I think Rize has a potential strength; there’s still work to be done. The fact that the part is of industrial strength, and the ability to do it safely in different environments, and at scale, offers incredible potential.”
Sustainability and inclusion are, to Kalambi, deeply interwoven concepts that translate into actionable processes to be worked into strategies for both technology and business operations. Working with a variety of input, with a variety of processes, can allow for a more complex mix of results to develop. Much of this perspective was gained through his experiences with Dassault Systèmes, which is a big-time player across a variety of verticals, incorporating a rich tapestry of experiences and offerings that play on one another to offer a full platform approach to solutions. Bringing this experience to a smaller company, Kalambi foresees an ongoing exploration of potential that can lead to real-world results.
“To be truly sustainable, you must be inclusive, which means including different processes, different people — you’ve probably seen that in the Dassault Systèmes portfolio, that fusion of different roles, design simulation, manufacturing simulation, all getting fused from a persona perspective. I see all those things as drivers for me to jump into this space. With Rize and in general with 3D printing, we can innovate so much on the part, make it so much more — my goal is, how do you make parts which will have a zero-carbon footprint, how do you create an environment where parts will be completely recyclable, completely biodegradable, which lends itself to new possibilities in developing products. This is one of the core aspects of Rize and the APD platform I see to scale,” Kalambi told me.
“We are talking about inclusion on the process side, on the products side, and also from a people perspective. What additive does, what especially Rize does through its compact way of not needing a big platform and keeping it on a desktop but producing industrial parts — that leads to making this much more available, much more ubiquitous. That lends a new element to inclusion: making it available to environments where manufacturing would be difficult, where people would not have access to these kinds of structures or capabilities, is a big thing for me.”
Having established a baseline foundation of how his professional experiences to date have shaped his perspectives and vision, I asked Kalambi next about more Rize-specific visions. The company is ambitious in its aims to bring industrial strength to a variety of customers and applications, and setting the right trajectory as its technology is young on the market is critical.
We touched first on immediate and short-term goals. Kalambi calls the initial customers using the Rize One their “lighthouse customers” who are setting course for the future of APD technology. These lighthouse customers are set to, he says, “develop new processes and push us as a company, as a technology.” Working closely with users who are putting 3D printing to work in real-world environments, gaining their feedback, and incorporating that feedback into future developments is an important approach for a young-to-market offering.
“We have a bunch of customers in different industries, some interesting names, and we will build on those, we need to scale within those companies, that is one aspect. We need to reach out to different audiences. I think the traditional audience has been design engineers, I think that additive manufacturing needs to reach out to different audiences. I see the ability to reach different audiences,” Kalambi explained.
In addition to customers, important to near-term strategy is a focus on materials and on software, areas where Kalambi’s experience will undoubtedly benefit Rize’s growth.
“I see an amazing possibility, and what we are already doing, to innovate on the materials side. We are working with materials vendors; I have had meetings with material science vendors who have looked at this hybrid approach we have taken and can overcome some of their own material limitations, we can innovate on these materials. I see materials innovation as a big topic. I come from the software world, so I tend to have strong relationships with software vendors. On the customers’ side I see them struggling with different software vendors, trying to figure out what works, it’s like a jigsaw puzzle. I want to figure out how to reduce this complexity; it’s not just about Rize, but how do we make things more easy for the company,” he said.
“Building out, driving up adoption with lighthouse customers, getting more material science vendors to partner, getting more software vendors to parnter with us, to create a stronger ecosystem to deliver to the customer an additive manufacturing solution where they will not be burdened by the complexity. That’s immediate.”
Collaboration remains a critical key to development, and building out appropriate partnerships can form a cornerstone of advances.
We looked out a bit farther next, examining short- to mid-term goals. Starting there, he said, is to expand the product roadmap.
“We have great technology in APD, applied in one printer; the ability to apply this in different formats, in different scales of printing, we are working on I would say two versions of these printers in terms of scale and capability, that will continue,” Kalambi said.
Looking out farther still, he raised an interesting mid- to long-term goal:
“We do want to be not just in polymers, but across a few materials segments.”
Visions and goals laid out, we were able to talk a bit more generally about the bigger picture surrounding the 3D printing industry, Rize’s place in it, and Kalambi’s optimism for a bright future bringing technologies to broader audiences. He is keen to approach new users and introduce them to the potential that 3D printing can unlock for them.
“To me, inclusion is a big topic, so I want to see how to build audiences that were not traditionally audiences for 3D printing, for additive manufacturing. Expanding the benefits of additive manufacturing. I will be putting into place, not just a product-focused approach, but an audience-focused approach,” he noted.
“With new industries, vendors are so in love with their technology, their products, they forget that customers are trying to solve their own problems. We become so enamored with our own creations we forget to get insights from the customers’ perspectives. I want to bring that back into what we do.”
This customer-centric view is one that is emerging more and more throughout the additive manufacturing industry, and has been refreshing to hear. Presenting solutions to real-world problems, rather than creating solutions in search of problems, offers a way for new users to understand and embrace new technology, removing a barrier to adoption.
As a relative newcomer to additive manufacturing himself, Kalambi offers a fresh perspective on what it takes to invite and intrigue new entrants to the market to understand what additive manufacturing can offer.
“One of the great things in this industry is the incredible innovation, the traction it’s building up,” Kalambi told me.
“To share my own journey, when I was first invited to see the company it was not as a prospective CEO, but just as a friend. A board member invited me to come look at the technology. Then we started talking about whether I would consider being the CEO, and I thought, ‘What would I do in 3D printing? I only know the software element’ — which is a significant aspect, but not all. But I stepped back and saw the fusion of elements, the design, the supply chain, these different elements getting fused over time. That meant that fusion would have a big implication from a people perspective, from a business perspective, that I think people are still figuring out. To me, that was the tipping point in my own thought process. As we take this conversation further, we need to look at what we can do to accelerate this conversation. The evolution of the industry is happening.”
Kalambi is, of course, no stranger to nascent industries, having entered each of his professional occupations “at a very early stage.” Working with SAP in the mid-90s when that company was getting ready to launch ERP (enterprise resource planning), the term “ERP” had not even been coined yet. He saw the same with product lifecycle management (PLM), and is seeing it again now in additive manufacturing.
“I saw ERP becoming transformational as for the first time we were bringing a common data model throughout an entire enterprise. I made my bet on ERP, when most people didn’t think a so-called expensive software like SAP would sell well in India, which has become a major market. In 2000, I moved into PLM. Again this was a newer concept, still in its infancy. I thought that there was a need to take the same discipline in manufacturing and apply to the design and engineering process. When I moved from ERP to PLM, it was the same kind of move I’m making now from Dassault Systèmes into Rize; I was in a very large company and moving to a smaller one,” he explained.
“I am making the same leap of faith right now; time will tell, of course, but in this case some of the best and brightest minds are in this industry so I think I’ll be safe.”
Moving again into a young, transformational technology, Kalambi understands the challenges and opportunities well. He is looking to bring the platform approach that was the basis of his mindset with Dassault Systèmes to Rize as additive manufacturing looks to scale, sustainably.
“Those aspects require deep transformation, these are not things that can happen just by putting a 3D printer next to a desk. These are the areas that will be the most interesting to work on for the next months and years,” he said.
Scale production requires a full look across processes, and Kalambi brings with him supply chain management experience from SAP, design side experience working with SOLIDWORKS and CATIA, simulation from more Dassault Systèmes activities, and these all, he says, “have given me a little bit of insight into this end-to-end flow.”
“I think there’s still more to be done, especially on the 3D printer side, but as we start putting these different building blocks together we can build a true end-to-end additive manufacturing flow and platform that can be scaled,” he noted.
Bringing tools and resources together additionally underpins an important approach for this end-to-end offering. When Dassault Systèmes developed its 3DEXPERIENCE platform approach, it brought together tools that had been theretofore used as standalone offerings; “working with modeling tools, simulation tools, handing off from one tool to the other tool — there was a lot of time and cost attached to it.” Dassault Systèmes, and Kalambi, learned a great deal through driving the platform vision and fusing together more tools, more roles.
“I think the 3D printing / additive manufacturing industry is coming to that inflection point,” he said. “If you want to do things at scale, you need to have it integrated into the end-to-end design and manufacturing process, it cannot be seen as separate parts. We need to look at deeply what the end-to-end process is. Some customers I’ve worked with have really understood additive, and have understood that additive is not just what is delivered from a product perspective; it will have an impact on design, on every step of the process. Those discussions are important to try to scale up. No one vendor has really had that solution, as it requires an inclusive and collaborative approach to deliver that solution.”
As 3D printing continues to rise in adoption throughout a variety of users, and as ambitious teams like that at Rize continue to approach and introduce new audiences to the technology, words like “disruption” are thrown around frequently (too much?). New technologies are often complementary to, rather than fully disrupting and displacing, existing manufacturing processes. Still, new adopters need to adjust to the newest offerings and adapt their thinking accordingly. Providers, for their part, need to understand the step-by-step processes inherent in adoption, working smoothly into an increasing market presence.
“Disruption is good as long as it’s happening to someone else. People would like to protect themselves from disruption and disrupt someone else,” Kalambi said with a laugh.
“Mainstreaming of additive is in progress now. Over-promising and under-delivering can undermine the credibility of the industry, and we will be careful not to fall into that trap. I have seen that happen throughout my career, and it slows things down for everyone. There was a lot of disappointment. Fortunately I think we are more conservative, which is good for us, and having the product and the technology to come and not present an idea that is half-baked; I like that approach and I want to continue with it. It’s good news for everybody that more big names are entering the industry.”
Rize, and its new leadership structure, seem to be setting themselves up for a bright future. Kalambi brings with him a strong sense of both optimism and realism, which will serve well to position high-strength desktop 3D printing as an approachable technology.
Let us know your thoughts on this appointment; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your comments below.[Photos unless otherwise noted: Sarah Goehrke]
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