CEO of Nexa3D, Avi Reichental has been leading Additive Manufacturing for close to 20yrs. In this episode of AM Voices, Avi joins us to discuss everything from the importance of team to finding the right solution for the application, as well as true desktop and industrial 3D printers and what that means to product designers as we digitize supply chains sustainably.
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Adam Penna (00:00):
Welcome to the AM Voices podcast on AdditiveManufacturing.com brought to you by Metrix, an ASME Company. Metrix provides resources of content, communities, and expertise to educate technology, purchase decisions and forge measurable long term business relationships. For more information, visit our website metrix- connect.com. Welcome to the AM Voices podcast on AdditiveManufacturing.com. My name is Adam Penna, your host, and continuing the conversation in 3D printing and advanced manufacturing. Today’s guest is also a creative maker and innovator, and he’s the co-founder and CEO of Nexa3D, Avi Reichental. Avi. Welcome.
Avi Reichental (00:40):
It’s really good to be. Thanks for having me.
Adam Penna (00:43):
Yeah, no, it’s good to have you here. I had a pleasure of, talking to you a little bit before we get started because of our normal setup time and getting things going on. It’s great to sit down and have this conversation with you, I know there’s a lot that’s been happening with Nexa3D and you’ve been building a pretty incredible team over there that I’ve seen over the last few years and there’s a lot going on in the industry. So again, welcome and happy to have you here.
Avi Reichental (01:08):
No, it’s, it’s, it’s good to be here and uh, you may have heard me, say this before, you know, this is, I’m going into my, 19 year in additive manufacturing. So, I’ve seen a lot, I’ve been through a lot. I think that there’s never been a better time to be in additive, except maybe next year.
Adam Penna (01:31):
The future is out there. Right. Uh, and the future is now in a lot of ways, but yeah, there’s so many things happening it’s, it’s amazing to see the compound kind of progression of our technology and where it’s going. Um, so you’ve been like, we were talking about building the dream with the right team, so talk about the importance of the team and, and supporting the customer. I know that’s really been your focus for a while.
Avi Reichental (01:55):
Well, we’re in, a significant growth stage. We, started Nexa3D about five and a half years ago. I remember in the early days I would come here to, the facility. It was just my dog and I, I would sit here with Cooper, my dog, who was still very involved in the company. I’m happy to say. And uh, oh,
Adam Penna (02:16):
Avi Reichental (02:17):
We, we were trying to think through how do we solve some of the fundamental gaps in additive manufacturing and around functional materials, around taking speeds of printing orders of magnitude around process and workflow automation. And once we had some line of site on how to make the necessary discoveries in technology and to get to, uh, a convincing proof of concept, it became all about the talent because, you know, to, , make something happen and to leave an impact, not just to build a business, but to leave an impact, you need kinder spirits. You need people that believe in what is possible. You need teammates that are willing to, take on what’s audacious and make it achievable. And so just like in sports, just like in, military service at the end, what keeps the scales, you know, between ordinary to extraordinary is, the quality of the team.
Avi Reichental (03:37):
And particularly when we are not just trying to increment and fine tune, immature technology, but we’re building a new company, and have, you know, a great deal of ambition here to digitize supply chain sustainably to do something that will be in success. Good for humanity, good for the planet, not just good for business. And you know, when you, when you set out to solve a big problem like this, you need a lot of kindred spirits. So I’ve been focusing a lot on who do I want to have hang out with, you know, who,
Adam Penna (04:22):
Yeah, it’s important.
Avi Reichental (04:24):
Who can we be intensely curious with, and still build something great. And I’m learning kind of you know, this is my, maybe, uh, forth rodeo, right? I mean, it’s not my first rodeo. I’m learning that people in talent and like mindness, you know, having that alignment, building that trust, believing that we can do something that is greater than our individual selves is much more important than just innovation and technology, much, much more important. And so,
Adam Penna (05:03):
Well, let me ask you this, you know, yeah, here we are. You know, since you’ve, you’ve been in that for a while and dealing with putting all these great people in one place to work together, and I know that we’re virtual now in a lot of sense, but how has that affected, you know, teamwork’s a tough thing, you know, and you can get all the best players out there on the team, but to get ’em to work together is a different thing. So, how has that been and how have you come over those challenges, especially in the virtual world, uh, you, you see a lot of that, you know, forces kind of pushing back or, or how are things moving forward?
Avi Reichental (05:36):
It is a great, and, timely, question Adam, because we are wrestled with it on a daily, cause don’t forget, we’re also kind of in the middle of the great resignation in which I think the value proposition between employees and employers is kind of changing, it’s turning on its head. So how do you deal with that? I, I think that it’s important for companies and certainly for our company, for Nexa3D to have a north star that everybody can align behind, because if you wanna build a great business, you need to solve great problems. And so we need alignment around, why are we here? What gets us up in the morning and how can we be for multiplier to each other for us that is digitizing supply chains sustainably, digitizing is obvious. Every business is so, you know, it’s not, it’s not a big deal if you don’t digitize, probably not gonna be here in a few years.
Avi Reichental (06:44):
Supply chain, I think became more obvious when we started talking about it, it was pre COVID. I think that COVID kind of really, illuminated just how brittle and fragile global supply chain is and the fact that it needs, you know, to be completely transformed. The sustainability power is where I feel, with every fiber of my being 3D printing, our industry, additive manufacturing has a huge role to, play and to contribute because, you know, we can look at it from how can we hyper localize and eliminate all the waste of moving goods around how can we lightweight and reduce both carbon footprint and energy inputs? How can we think and apply in everything that we do, circular economy principles, but more importantly, how do we make sure that we don’t greenwash all of this, but that we come together, as, as practitioners, as passionate practitioners and create the standards and create the KPIs and demonstrate scientifically and convincingly that we can measure and improve our carbon footprint and enhance, you know, sustainability through everything that we do when you attract kinder spirits to the company.
Avi Reichental (08:20):
And we all have egos. I mean, ego is, is, is part of whom. We are sure we all bring our past, you know, it’s not like we magically transform when we enter the workplace, we bring all of our, uh, baggage with us. But when, when you have alignment around kind of a massive transformative of purpose, when you take time to build trust, especially in a virtual world, in which often time, on a daily basis, this is as good as it gets, right. You and I talking via through or via another app. It’s all about building trust. It’s, it’s all about authenticity. It’s, it’s, it’s about a simple culture that says, Hey, we’re all a players, we’re all intensely curious. We’re all high achievers, but together or powerful team. So let’s, let’s recognize, let’s recognize that, you know, we need to bring some humility to, to the question.
Avi Reichental (09:25):
Let’s recognize that the smartest gal or guy in the room is not the person with all the answers. It might be the person that is asking the right questions. Let’s apply the golden rule of treating everybody the way that we wanna be threaded ourselves. And let’s remember that the real challenges ahead of us are not our inner personal relationships is just an enabler, but it’s the, the promise and the possibility that together we can make some significant impact on humanity and the planet. And I, I think that laying out that kind of a construct feeding that kind of a call and nurturing it on a daily basis, uh, is, is kind of the secret sauce of what is attracting a lot of talent to next side, the time that it’s really hard to get talent, and what’s keeping everybody here and kind of unleashing all the new product and all the new technology.
Avi Reichental (10:38):
And I, I, I have to say also Adam, that, making mistakes over the years, screwing up a bunch of times, which, which, which, which, you know, if, if we’re honest with ourselves, I mean, certainly in my case, there isn’t a day that they don’t make takes and just try to make fewer and hopefully not the same ones, but yeah, but part of, I think what makes Nexa3D what it is is we have a lot of, uh, experienced professionals here, people that, have done this 2, 3, 4 times before we have the benefit also of having kind of assembled some of the old band, you know, of, uh, of strays and industry misfits, because some of us have worked together in the past. Sure. And so in a way it’s also kind of, uh, getting the band back together and
Adam Penna (11:40):
Oh boy. A dream, right?
Avi Reichental (11:42):
Yeah. And so, and you know, when you put it all together, I, I think our scars and our mistakes also allow us to rise above, you know, some of the, uh, ordinary organizational challenges that typically can get in the way, right. I mean, egos and personalities and fragility, and to get in the way of real progress. And I think experience and scars kind of helps us mitigate for that a little bit. We’re not perfect.
Adam Penna (12:18):
Yeah, no, not perfect. I mean, that that’s building a team is, is not an easy thing. And, you know, it goes through iterations, just like a print might. Um, but at the same time, you gott to have that foundation, you know, of trust and working together. And, you’ve definitely started that with a nice team. I know you started talking about digitalization and what that means inside of the industry and how we are using digitalization to actually reduce carbon footprint, a, footprint measurably people could actually see what’s happening. And, I know you’ve also created some partnerships recently, right? There was, a, recent, uh, the Oqton partnership to help, and that’s also to look at also your data and also kind of measure what’s happening going on. So the digitalization is more a reality in numbers, right? And, and that’s what people wanna look at is how we’re changing these things in reality and not just gaslighting, everything like you talking about
Avi Reichental (13:06):
About. Well, I, I think that it’s really, really important, , not just for Nexa3D, but for the whole industry, to quickly come together and establish some baselines, and units of measure or KPIs that we all agree on so that we know that we can start from a common frame of reference and the begin to demonstrate that we can intentionally and deliberately make progress, make progress on waste. And you can, think about it in terms of, can we minimize or eliminate supports in certain technologies? Can we eliminate or reduce, refresh rates in, you know, material, powders, can we lightweight and begin to recommend the right tools and the right processes and approach to give engineers the decision design port and the simulation tools, so that, so that, you know, you can, you could, if you will lightweight with confidence because many designs that, we put out there as engineers and designers on a daily basis are based on either or institutional knowledge gut feel or experience.
Avi Reichental (14:41):
We very seldom go through all of the topology optimization and simulation and destructive tests. And often times we end up using a great deal, more material than we need. So beginning the, education and transformational process around lightweighting is a sustainability, impact, not just is something that’s necessary for aerospace or automotive to meet certain standards, but something that you can do in a consumer product, in a medical product, in any product for that matter. And in the process, reduce material, consumption, energy input into manufacturing, transportation fuel, and because you reduce the weight and the size of what’s being transported, that kinda circular economy thinking, is an area that I feel we, the collective way, you know, can really influence and move forward. And that’s where collaborate are so important because, uh, you know, we live in a day and age in which everything happens exponentially faster than we even think, right.
Avi Reichental (16:02):
I mean, the future is happening a lot faster than we imagine. There is a convergence of exponential technologies that create orders of magnitude changes, just because of all of the yeah. Uh, enabling infrastructure, right? Infinite computing power in the cloud chip sensing, ubiquitous connectivity, more data better, the digital side of it, better machine learning. I mean, and, and it’s all converging in times like this collaborations, I think are fun to success because together everyone can achieve more. And on the flip side individually, there isn’t a single company in the world, regardless of how big it is or how deep their pockets are or how much talents they have that can solve for all of this. So, you know, in, areas like this, it’s really important as part of digitization and as part of sustainability to collaborate as much as possible. So at next, we have quite a few collaborations. We have a very good with Henkel. We, we have a relatively new one with, Oqton but we have many other, collaborations and we believe in it. We believe that together, everyone can achieve more.
Adam Penna (17:27):
Yeah, no, that’s a greatoverview of what that takes to get there. And, you know, there’s a lot going on with those partnerships that push things forward. But I also wanted to get back to talking about the technology, because I’m interested in what you’re doing. You, labeled leading ultra fast polymer, 3D printing revolution. And, and that’s exciting, you know, there there’s something happening now in, resin printing has been, you know, question, is it production ready? Can it really do the higher end, you know, batches, that, you know, other than, than a small batch, can it get into some of those, those higher end applications and get pushed into production. So I know, you’ve been working towards that. So talk a little bit more about the technology and where it is at this point.
Avi Reichental (18:08):
Absolutely. So we, we have two, interesting technologies, index, you know, the, first is our, LSDC technology, which is really around, photo curing resins. And, and the big deal about that technology is that we pioneered combination of, our own unique light engine comprising of an L E D / L C D sandwich, but with a unique ability to colunate and guide the light in a way that enables us to achieve edge to edge uniform and extreme accuracy, but also the ability to, control how much energy we can deliver through an L C D mask. And that kind of opens the aperture for faster and newer polymer chemistry. So, you know, you get the ability to print isotropically, right in this kind of a light engine because we’re using L C D screens and not, DLP.
Avi Reichental (19:24):
We have the ability to extend oh, and expand the, the print area. And because we can put more uniformity into both energy and area that allows us to get better accuracy and better features in to in essence, eliminate the, artifacts of a digital signature, the two typical see on parts, that come from those technologies. That’s part one part two is how do you deal with speed? You know, typically when you, print yep. In an inverted fashion on what’s called an MSLA technology, you have significant peel off forces and, and, and many practitioners in our industry of it in different ways. Some people use F E P films, other use, oxygen, permeable, membranes. We developed a very unique substrate. We call it our everlast membrane that, uh, in essence, uh, introduces both lubricity and flexibility, into this membrane. So it’s almost like a drum membrane and it enables us to increase layer speed and minimize peel off force, uh, during the separation to a point in which we could be as high as, uh, 20 X, 20 X, faster than comparable technologies that are on the market today.
Avi Reichental (20:59):
Wow. So it’s the combination of basically expendable print format size, the call it the interface layer technology and the light technology that enabled us to really, uh, 20x the print speed. And, and this is where we are today. Uh, I want to 10 exit again now in the next
Speaker 3 (21:27):
Speaker 4 (21:29):
Yeah. Op it up it, yeah.
Avi Reichental (21:31):
I mean, look, I mean, what, what got me excited in, in 2015 about starting another 3D printing company was, I felt that speed was still a huge, a huge challenge, right? I mean, think back to 2016, much, three most 3D printers, uh, that you watched, like watching paint dry. And this was after a decade and a half of doing it myself. So I kind of said to myself, okay, there’s gotta be a different way to, to get to orders of magnet to speed improvement. And so we’ve done it with,with our photo polymers. We’re now ready to bring to the market also, uh, a powder based, uh, SLS type system, but with a quad laser that take us to that 20x on the powder side. We hope to bring that to the market in the next few months. Really excited to assemble an all star tem for that project as well. Super exciting. Yeah. And, so, I think that the ability to do things like this all also completely opens the aperture on, on functional materials, for example, in our, uh, photochemistry side of the house together with Henkel and with others, we’re really looking at next gen functional polymers that in some instances will far exceed the mechanical performance of, traditional thermoplastics, something that would not have been, if you, if, if you told me 10 years ago, uh, this would be possible, I probably would have laughed and, and thought that you were a little delusional, but you a I’m learning every day, how much more we can achieve with new chemical systems. Also in some instances, faster, chemistry, and also on the thermoplastic side, not just on the thermo sets, but on the thermoplastic side with our new QLS system, we have increased the processing temperature windows so that we can process materials with at higher temperatures that also opens the range of supply chain, approved materials, materials that everybody recognizes, uh, either, you know, the polyamides, the PBT and, and TPU’s. And that is another exciting path that takes a stream of known materials and enable them to be processed much higher speeds and converted into functional parts.
Adam Penna (24:31):
Yeah, no, that makes a lot of sense. And that’s kind of what is pushing forward. You know, it, like you said, 10 years ago, that was, unfathomable and, and you think someone was joking with you, but here we are, you know, and that, that compound rate of, of how technology is pushing forward is sometimes overwhelming, you know, there’s, there’s so many things that are changing and pushing forward and, people working to make it better like yourself, that when you see these things, it’s almost like what, where, wow, when did this happen, but, you know, and that also kind of confuses, obviously the, the consumers a bit like, you know, with technology, what’s actually mature in the market. You know, I of getting into something now that’s only gonna be 20 times faster a year from now, you know?
Adam Penna (25:10):
Uh, so, um, you know, but you have to invest, especially in the technology as it’s growing, you know, to be part of that wave. So we see a lot of people jumping on that, especially with supply chain issues right now, because we prove that, 3D printing is a, a viable, process that you can get involved into actually mitigate some of those risks out there. So it’s exciting. I wanted to ask you something, because you were in there you were saying a couple things, you know, with digitalization in that process, but also the difference. And a lot of people ask this question is, you know, what’s the difference between like desktop versus production, you know, and, there’s some obvious answers there. But so sometimes there’s a gray area, a lot of times, so, you’re, you’re dealing with both sides. And, and so can you explain what you see as the differences there and, where someone goes from a desktop system to a production system?
Avi Reichental (25:58):
Yeah, so I, I think that, historically we, tend to think about, desktop as a system that is probably more suited just for quick models and prototypes. I think that more recently, we began to think about desktop also in the clinical sense of, you know, can it feed into, will fit into a dental clinic or into a dentist’s office. And there, it’s more about, making dental models, aligners night guards and things like that. At Nexa3D, we started with a larger format, industrial and shop type systems that were aimed primarily at either, high volume prototypes or production volumes of parts. As we got more into it. We realized that at the end of the day, most of our, our customers start in an engineering team with prototyping and modeling and tooling. And we thought to ourselves, wouldn’t be nice if we could take our print engine, package it into the smaller, more affordable format, but still a very rugged format, put it on an engineer’s or a designer’s desk, and allow them to tap into the same materials and the same technology that they would be scaling with into production.
Avi Reichental (27:40):
So we’re bringing to the market, over the next couple of months, a really exciting system called the XIP, spelled X I P, but we okay. Pronounce it. Zip XIP is all about taking the, speed productivity, accuracy and material sets that today are only available in our industrial systems and pushing them to, the engineers and designers, desktop, but also to the, clinician and dentist, right. Office, because we think that we could transform the way that, oh, I should say differently. We think that we can give engineers and professionals and small and medium enterprises something that money can’t buy, which is time. Because in most instances we can print, the same file it’s placed 10x, sometimes all the way up to 20x, faster than other tools on the market. What that does for professionals is it gives them time.
Avi Reichental (28:58):
You know, if you can do something in minutes instead of hours and days, think of how that can change your workflow, your priorities, your deliverables, your time to market. If you are in a business, that’s making parts, well, you can compress your late times. You can give better service. If you are in a dental practice, you just make more money all day long. So depending on, yeah, that’s kind nice, which is, which is not a bad outcome. So we kind of got to desktop by taking the long way around the barn. We started with industrial systems first and then learned that we could package the same technology for best stuff. And we also differentiate by, price points, right? So to put something on somebody’s desk, it has to be affordable. It has to happen in a way that, that, that is relatable and appealing to that audience.
Avi Reichental (30:00):
And it has to deliver the right value of simplicity, intuitiveness functionality, ease of use. And that’s what the XIP is all about. Uh, and it’ll come to the market over the next couple of months It about $6,000 per unit – okay. Which we think is very competitive and extremely well suited. And I’ll just put in one plug, not for the, not for the product, but for the design thinking that went into it, which was all about digitizing supply chain, sustainably, every design decision that we made, on how to bring the zip to life, including material choices. We decided at the end to make the entire enclosure out of aluminum, because aluminum is the only material that is over 97% recycled in the wild. We made hundreds of decisions, the whole team embraced kind of circular economy design principles. And when you see it, you can sense it throughout the product. So I’m really excited, uh, about how this project in particular allowed us inside of NEX a to kind of rethink how we approach sustainability from the inside out.
Adam Penna (31:27):
Yeah, no, and that’s a, that’s a real process, right. Actually looking at that, that full, you know, ecosystem of what can come into the part and what you can do and, actually build a machine. That’s that’s from those principles, that’s exciting. Avi looking forward to seeing that. You, you kinda laid out, you have a couple, of, different, products coming out in, in 2022. So, looking forward to seeing more of that too. Now, gotta ask you the bigger questions too, about the, the entire industry, you know, and what’s happening with additive. What do you see next? I mean, here we are. Right. And, it’s wide open. I see a lot of different companies kind of coming together. Some are, some are dissolving, because of certain reasons, but we’re going through this changeover and we have like you said, there’s gonna be a lot to look forward to next year. So what, what are your, what’s your vision for the industry?
Avi Reichental (32:16):
Well, uh, my, sense is that, the industry is going through another, kind of explosive phase of growth and transformation. The industry also managed to attract a great deal of, capital over the last few years, both. Yes, it has both in terms of, you know, VC funding and more recently, going the kind of SPAC slash IP routes
Adam Penna (32:44):
SPACS everywhere! Yes.
Avi Reichental (32:46):
We also have a whole class of newly minted, publicly traded, additive companies. And, and of course we’re rooting for all of them because we want each and every one of, you know, industry companies to succeed. Having said that there isn’t a room, you know, for each and every player to succeed simply because, here is a great deal of inefficiency and redundancy in replicating, lot of the same thing. So even when technology, Adam is differentiated, you still need in every business to develop your business model, your customer success, your go to market, your channels of accessing the market, all of this support infrastructure. And so there is in a phase that we’re in, there is also a great deal of inefficiency by so many, dozens of companies trying to stand up exactly, you know, the same functions and capabilities.
Avi Reichental (33:55):
What that says is that we will probably see some more consolidated. We will sadly probably see some, failures. We will happily see some business model innovations in the process because you can only go to market so many different ways. And, uh, many of the channels to market are already somewhat saturated. So I’m banking on also seeing some go to market and business model innovation, not just technology innovation. And I think in the process, the customer wins, right? I mean, the managers advancing more possibilities, hopefully, some kind of democratization and, demo demonetization, which is good for the end user ultimately, and good for the companies and the people that back them who know how to operate in that environment. But, but as, I said to you in the beginning, I think there’s never been a better time to be an additive except maybe next year.
Adam Penna (35:09):
Yes. Yeah. And that’s a, that’s a great spot for us to wrap that up. Thanks Avi. This has been awesome. Thank you for joining us today. Uh, I’m looking forward to, you know, what’s next with Nexa3D. Thank you so much.
Avi Reichental (35:19):
Thank you, Adam.
Adam Penna (35:20):
Thank you for listening to the AM Voices podcast on AdditiveManufacturing.com brought to you by Metrix, an ASME company. Metrix unlocks access to resources, content, people, and expertise to inform technology, purchase decisions, and cement business relationships. For more information, visit our website metrix-connect.com.