The 3D printing industry, relatively nascent as it is, is a fairly small world unto itself. With rising collaborations around the globe bringing efforts together into shared visions of what additive technologies can make possible, and a still somewhat limited talent pool of experienced industry participants, many names — company and individual alike — are often linked together, forming growing relationships, observing internal personnel changeups in executive structures, and joint efforts.
One name that has often risen to the spotlight in additive manufacturing is Avi Reichental, a storied and experienced executive who helmed industry giant 3D Systems for a dozen years until his departure over two years ago. Since that high-profile exit, Reichental’s name has certainly not disappeared from the 3D printing radar; in 2017 alone, he has joined the Nano Dimension board of directors, intially as a member and more recently as the Co-Chairman; and joined the Techniplas board of directors, where he is now the Vice-Chairman in addition to being the CEO of the company’s recently established digital unit. He is additionally the Executive Chairman and Co-Founder of Nexa3D, Executive Chairman of NXT Factory, and is the Founder, Chairman, and CEO of XponentialWorks, an advisory, venture investment, and product development company. Reichental is also a General Partner at Israeli early-stage venture fund OurCrowd First, sits on the board of directors of Harman International, and is the Founder and Chairman of Centaur, ElasticMedia, and Apollo Robotics.
Through his work wtih Nexa3D and XponentialWorks in particular, I met Reichental and several teams he works with at formnext 2017 last month in Frankfurt. We met at the busy XYZprinting booth on the show floor. For its part, that company had announced just ahead of formnext a new partnership with and invetment in Nexa3D, bringing the companies together at the show.
“XponentialWorks is investing in technologies that are disrupting and creating new businesses,” Reichental told me.
“We are working with five early-stage 3D printing investments, as well as others in AI, in robotics — we’re looking at Industry 4.0. We are also following, and guiding, more mature companies, including Nano Dimension, where I am on the board. We’ve started to put together early-stage companies with mature companies. We match together interesting 3D printing companies.”
Among the endeavors Reichental listed as we talked 3D printing were Digital Wax Systems (DWS) and Sicnova, with which XYZprinting announced partnerships alongside Nexa3D, and Techniplas, ShareBot, and Nano Dimension.
“We are bringing together cutting-edge additive manufacturing with experienced endeavors, all driven by experts. We are not leaving early-stage companies to figure it all out on their own; there is a hunger in the industry for this now. We have created an amazing ecosystem in which everybody wins and shares in case studies,” he said.
As we talked, we stood next to the speedy Nexa3D machines, which we were first introduced to in 2015. Reichental noted that they are “ending up with ultrafast 3D printing” through these systems, which feature XY resolution of 30 microns, and took around two years to develop. A print job finished as we spoke, and we all watched it rise from the machine.
“We have speed and resolution,” Reichental said. “I personally seeded the early stages…. One week ago we announced Series A funding led by XYZprinting. The agreement with XYZprinting is that we will sell under their brand, and our brand. For a sub-$20K system, this is an exiciting opportunity. We have also made an agreement with a Greman dental company, bringing their materials and creating a special dental 3D printer in the second half of 2018.”
The partnership he alluded to in our conversation was announced the week after formnext, as XYZprinting and Nexa3D signed an agreement with BEGO to focus on digital dentistry. The new machine will be from Nexa3D, made under its label and manufactured by XYZprinting, and exclusively marketed by BEGO.
XYZprinting has been expanding its reach in the 3D printing industry lately; following a recent conversation in the UK with the company focused on consumer applications, at formnext the message was all professional on the heels of the announcement of the company’s entrance into industrial additive manufacturing. Michele Marchesan, Senior Vice President Industry 4.0, noted that the company is working to put its extensive resources to best use.
“We want to leverage the incredible manufacturing capabilities of Kinpo,” he told me, referencing parent company New Kinpo Group. “They have been in the market for 12 years, and are putting together a world-class reseller network.”
The company has one of the largest machine portfolios in 3D printing, offering a broad variety of 3D printing working with extrusion-based, resin, SLS, binder jetting, and other technologies — and a major reason behind this fairly vast offering comes down to one simple point:
“We understand there is no machine that is the solution for everything,” Marchesan said.
XYZprinting is targeting disruption now that a firm foundation of experience and market-leading sales has been established. Nexa3D is “incredibly disruptive,” Marchesan said, affirming the partnering; he also pointed to Sicnova’s “industrial grade” FFF offerings.
“We want a disruptive printer and to address segments in an affordable way, over the entire cost of ownership. We’re all over the hype. We want to supply reliable, cost-effective, quality 3D printing, with industrial manufacturing quality from a company making one million 3D printers per month,” he continued.
“We are leveraging all this. We entered the market three and a half years ago, and we wanted to be industrial too. We have a full portfolio few can match in this industry. We have speed, quality, technologies from color to sintering, at a price where people can afford to go in. Companies are trying to validate if 3D printing works in their production — now this is price-accessible, with incredible productivity.”
Looking to the company’s recent industrial introductions, Marchesan noted that binder jetting is an in-demand technology — a position being reinforced with the introduction since formnext of GE’s new prototype binder jetting system. With such a company as a bellwether for industrial demand, XYZprinting’s decision to get in on this modality underscores a solid market awareness. For XYZprinting, developing binder jetting and more industrial-focused technologies to its portfolio was not a decision taken lightly.
“We have very high productivity, all with excellent quality: I want to be very clear we did not discount quality,” Marchesan told me. “We have SLA, high speed laser SLA, binder jetting, color printing, FDM, and SLS, all under one roof. We are ready to go industrial now.”
The business environment necessarily impacts decision-making, and Marchesan was clear as well about the company’s take on industry conditions.
“One thing I appreciate about working with a Taiwanese company is setting up this foundation, we are building something that will last for many years. We are in the right direction from the start. I am so grateful for this opportunity,” he said.
“It is an industry where there will be much more consolidation. We are uniquely positioned with the support we have at Kinpo. We can’t do everything ourselves; we are working with the right partners.”
The partnerships heralded at the XYZprinting booth that day at formnext included another company that counts Reichental among its leadership, as Israel-based Nano Dimension fits into the picture. Company CEO Amit Dror was on hand to discuss the industry and some looks ahead. He had come to formnext for the day, leaving some of the team a few hours away in Munich, where the company’s DragonFly 2020 Pro 3D printer won the productronica Innovation Award; other Nano Dimension team members were showing their technology in Santa Clara, California at IDTechEx that week.
“There has been a noticeable trend [at formnext]. This event started out a few years ago, where exhibitors would say, ‘Check out my amazing technology.’ Today, though, it is, ‘Look at these applications.’ This shows that the reality is growing,” Dror told me as we discussed industry maturation.
“The entrance of big-name players has had a big impact as they have aligned with the industry over the last few years. Seeing this growth, we are past the hype, as the more established companies are showing applications, emphasizing value, and elaborating how they fit in the working environment.”
Since formnext, Nano Dimension has been leveraging its relationship with XponentialWorks as it brings its electronics 3D printing know-how more into North America, which Dror sees as a major market opportunity for the company’s offerings. Through XponentialWorks’ presence, marketplace access, and expertise, Nano Dimension has recently opened its second Customer Experience Center in Ventura, California.
As investments and partnerships in 3D printing continue, the industry can expect to see more real-world applications and business-world collaborations designed to advance additive manufacturing.
Discuss partnerships, business strategies, and other 3D printing topics, at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below.[All photos: Sarah Goehrke]