AMS Spring 2023

Evolve Additive Moves to Commercialize High-Throughput 3D Printing with New CEO

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Evolve Additive has been evolving for over 14 years. The firm emerged from stealth in 2018, picked up investors Stanley and LEGO in that same year, and went for more funding in 2020. In 2021, the firm sold its first commercial machine. The company now is looking for further commercialization. To that end it is bringing in Joe Allison as CEO, who will replace founder Steve Chillscyzn. Chillscyzn will transition to CTO.

“This new structure will allow me to focus my energies on accelerating technical developments within our STEP technology. The versatility of the platform is significant, and we are investigating various print engine configurations, new materials qualifications, and precision thermal control.  It is exciting to have someone with Joe’s background and leadership skills to accelerate and optimize our existing platform while also pursuing new products and enhancements,” Chillscyzn said.

Joe Allison said in turn, “Our goal is to make EAS the trusted partner for higher volume production of thermoplastic applications within the Additive Manufacturing space. I will bring a user’s perspective to EAS and continue to build upon its revolutionary technology.”

Chillscyzn was with Evolve from the get-go, developing the technology internally at Stratasys and then spinning out the firm. Allison, meanwhile, was the founder of Solid Concepts, the large service bureau that Stratasys bought in 2014. He then went on to lead Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

With that in mind, it will be hard to know if this is a move that all parties were on board with or if everyone is throwing things at each other in the boardroom. Regardless, it seems like a good decision to have a leader focus on clients and building out the organization while someone else focuses on R&D. Initially, one CEO could comfortably do both, but now would be a good time to have a road- or Rolodex-warrior and someone to make sure that the company delivers on its promises.

The STEP process. Image courtesy of Evolve Additive Solutions.

Allison seems like an inspired choice. He understands the economics, business drivers, and operational elements of a 3D printing service in a way that few other people do. Over 25 years in service bureaus is close to the theoretical maximum amount of experience that you can have. He has a lot of stature, as well. Solid Concepts was also more hard-charging than most commercially, so that should do the firm a lot of good. Rather than have a sales team work with clients, Joe can meet customers eye-to-eye as a respected peer or even as a supplier, via Stratasys Direct.

Evolve has now raised over $56 million on what is purported to be a true mass manufacturing technology for 3D printed goods. Selective Thermoplastic Electrophotographic Process can make very well defined objects with a great surface finish. But, it will be hard to push an expensive piece of completely new kit into companies in a jittery market amid pressure on margins, costs and investments.

Evolve quotes some very exciting numbers, including one example in which a batch of 768 units were produced at 14 seconds per part in a three-hour build. With a yield of 2,000 parts per day, the cost per item would be under $2. Those are some very exciting figures.

One could really see Evolve fit into some solutions, such as mass customization for vehicles, as well as short run, low volume industrial, or polymer spare parts. It would seem that, for now, leveraging service contracts would be a way in. It is going to be an uphill battle during the upcoming, uncertain months, but Evolve has a fundamentally interesting technology with great economics and potential.

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