Tali Rosman, General Manager of Xerox Elem Additive, is a pleasure to have as our guest on this episode of AM Voices. Tali demonstrates true hands-on leadership while being effortlessly able to articulate the total cost of ownership as well as where and when Additive Manufacturing leverages design, applications, supply chain, on-demand manufacturing, integrated manufacturing solutions, and the value of distributed manufacturing.
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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.
Adam Penna (00:22):
Hi, everybody, my name is Adam Penna and I’m here with AM Voices, the podcast that brings you specialized individuals who talk about what’s happening in 3D printing, and additive manufacturing innovation. Today my guest is Tali Rosman. She’s a general manager over at Xerox 3D Printing, and digital innovation, and I know right now there’s a lot of good things happening over there. So, Tali, welcome, good to have you here.
Tali Rosman (00:45):
Yeah, pleasure to be here Adam.
Adam Penna (00:45):
Yeah, so I know we’re talking a little bit more about digitalization and what’s happening out there in the 3D printing world, and there’s a lot of changes going on. I know you even had an evolution of the name change from Xerox 3D Printing to now Xerox, is it Elem Additive, is that correct?
Tali Rosman (01:00):
Yes, Elem Additive, E-L-E-M.
Adam Penna (01:05):
E-L-E-M Additive. So, talk a little bit about that and how that’s grown into a separate business unit from Xerox, but what’s been happening over there and where are you guys right now?
Tali Rosman (01:15):
Yeah, so Xerox has been in the 3D printing business for about 20 years now in various capacities, even though they didn’t have a printer necessarily ready, products out on the market. But, as you know, Xerox has a lot of research centers from PARC in Palo Alto, and others, who’ve been doing a lot of work. And about a couple of years ago we really decided to take this on and build this as its own business because we think we have a lot to offer, a lot of capabilities and great technologies to our customers; and so it took us a while to come up with the right name but here we are, Elem Additive.
Adam Penna (01:50):
Yeah, that’s good to hear, I know there’s been a lot of that going and a lot of investment from larger companies out there that are looking at kind of taking over what’s happening inside the 3D printing world and making it part of the manufacturing process. The important part of it is it isn’t in a silo anymore and it’s actually connecting with the manufacturing world. So, that’s the exciting part for me, you’re learning about how people like yourself are doing that, so thanks again for being here. Looking forward to talking about some of these things.
Tali Rosman (02:18):
Yeah, happy to be here. And I agree with you, I think the last two years really brought forward the supply chain. Two years ago you would’ve said, “Supply chain efficiencies,” people would look at you and go, “Ah, not really interesting.” Now supply chain is all over the news.
Adam Penna (02:32):
Tali Rosman (02:33):
You open the news every day you hear supply chain, supply chain. And now companies are truly starting to invest and there was just a survey now by Gardner, I believe, where 90% of the companies are going to invest in supply chain agility in the next three years.
Adam Penna (02:48):
Yeah, you’re seeing that everywhere and, you’re absolutely right, what happened in the pandemic, you had to look at how you’re actually getting things and localize things that were not able to be delivered or supplied, and how to mitigate that risk going forward in our world because it definitely is something that 3D printing has a value in and people have to look at that whole system and say, “What can I do to mitigate what happens next?” And so that’s exciting, I know we could talk a bit about supply chain and what’s happening but you’ve also had some interesting partnerships lately, so talk a little bit more about that, I saw something about you have a machine now at Vertex and you’re actually able to start to serve a lot of the industry from there, so talk a little about partnerships and what’s happening there.
Tali Rosman (03:31):
Yeah, absolutely. So, we’re very excited about the partnership with Vertex, this is a top tier service bureau servicing customers across various industries with various 3D printing needs and we’re very honored that they’re passionate about ElemX and the value it can bring to their customers. From our side we are seeing a lot of customers that have a lot of interest in the liquid metal technology and the ElemX, but not necessarily owning a printer, they want to consume parts. And working together with Vertex allows us that flexability in offering our customers not just the opportunity to buy the printer but, again, also to consume parts at their own pace.
Adam Penna (04:13):
Yeah, and I know that that’s an important partnership obviously, to have that resource there for people who are in development and are actually looking to do things with the technology. So let’s talk about that technology, you say liquid metal, ElemX. And it’s part of your name now also, Elem Additive, so what exactly can that new liquid metal machine do, the ElemX?
Tali Rosman (04:35):
What can’t it do, Adam?
Adam Penna (04:36):
Yeah, let’s hear it. There’s applications, materials, what’s going on with it?
Tali Rosman (04:41):
Yeah, so for me I think looking in the 3D printing industry, and production-grade metal more particularly, I don’t think we’ve crossed the chasm on that adoption yet and I think one of the reasons we haven’t done that yet is an industry, is because the existing metal technologies are very cumbersome and there’s a lot of overhead, a lot of risk in implementing them and using them. And what we we’re trying to do here at Elem Additive, and specifically with the liquid metal technology, is take all that friction and risk off the table. So, making it easy to have production-grade metal printing, so the technologies is wire instead of powder, and it’s actually very simple in how it works, so you upload a spool of wire to the printer, kind of like you would with an FFF or an FDM Printer, except the…
Tali Rosman (05:35):
The wire is being fed into the print head, which is very hot and liquefies the metal, hence the liquid metal name. And then what we do which is different than an FDM or FFF which extrude the material we jet the material, so drop by drop and layer by layer we build the part. And this where really a lot of the Xerox secret sauce comes in, Xerox has years of experience in the ability to control droplets-
Adam Penna (06:03):
Yes they do.
Tali Rosman (06:03):
… of material very accurately and repeatedly lacing them. And that’s how we build the parts. So, aside from the usage of wire we’re moving all the safety concerns and hazardous material risks you would have with powder, it also makes the post-processing very straight forward. So, from when the print finishes until you hold the part in your hands is less than a minute. All you’re doing is you’re grabbing the build plate, putting it in a bucket of room temperature water, and the part literally pops off from the build plate, floats around in the bucket, you pull it and you have the parts in your hand.
Tali Rosman (06:42):
Now, it’s not say there’s no post-processing, you may want to machine for surface finish or do a straight forward-
Adam Penna (06:50):
Depends on the application.
Tali Rosman (06:51):
… P60 heat treatment for ideal properties. That’s pretty much it so that really gives us exponentially faster time to force part in hand.
Adam Penna (07:02):
Yeah, that’s really neet to know and I know that you’ve actually talked about it being a safer and simpler technology, the machine itself. So, talk a little bit more about that and where does that value come into play.
Tali Rosman (07:13):
Yeah, so when I started in the 3D printing industry almost 10 years ago, what got me really excited was the vision of the distributed manufacturing in the micro factories. So, the idea not just to have on demand manufacturing and get the part when you need it, but also the ability to get it where you need it. So, cutting all the shipping risks and supply chain disruptions that we’re seeing now. Problem is, because the existing technologies today, because of all the overheads associated with them whether it’s the facility modifications you have to do, whether if it’s the hazardous material protocols, whether if it’s the extensive training you have to do to people in order to utilize them; that doesn’t lend itself to a distributed manufacturing environment, they lend themselves more to a centralized R&D or Center of Excellence Facility. And they can scale that way by having 20 printers in the same location.
Tali Rosman (08:08):
Our vision is different, we want to scale by having 20 printers in 20 different locations and truly enabling you distributed manufacturing at your fingertips, and this way you can truly build agility into your supply chain because you’re making the parts when you need them where you need them.
Adam Penna (08:27):
Wow, yeah that is the dream that on-demand manufacturing and seeing that grow and seeing it actually used without too much ancillary processes, the more you add to it the more the process gets a little bit challenging but at the same time sometimes you need those challenging processes to finish your application, so it all depends on the application. It all depends, I hear that a lot.
Tali Rosman (08:49):
Exactly, it all depends on the use case.
Adam Penna (08:54):
It does, and you’ve talked a bit about that too. I’ve heard you talk about building the actual business case around it and you were getting into a bit of that, the cost of ownership and how you can articulate that inside of a business plan. So, what happens inside of that thought process for one of your customers?
Tali Rosman (09:11):
Yeah, so I think when customers look at traditional manufacturing, and actually, honestly, we sit in that too as well, at Elem Additive, when we order parts to build the printers. Customers are looking at unit manufacturing cost instead of Total Cost of Ownership. Now, what’s the difference? The difference is, for example, when you order parts from a casting or injection molding you might have minimum order quantity. So, maybe you just need five of a part but minimum order quantity is 50. Okay, how do you account for the cost of the 45 parts you order that you don’t need? Well, that doesn’t manifest itself into your manufacturing cost, that’s scrap cost that come later on.
Tali Rosman (09:52):
What about the cash that you uplaid upfront to get all the parts? What about the storage costs, storage, the warehouse, the inventory? All that management also cost you a lot of money, but that’s not accounted for necessarily in your manufacturing cost so we’re trying to change the conversation from UMC into TCO, into the Total Cost of Ownership; because once you take traditional manufacturing and now you start layering on all of these things, minimum order quantity, warehousing and scrap cost, once you start topping all of those all of a sudden additive manufacturing is not as expensive as you might’ve thought.
Adam Penna (10:34):
Yeah, that’s where it start to make sense, especially depending upon the series or batch size that you’re running there, it starts to come into play a lot; looking at that Total Cost of Ownership opposed to just what’s happening right at one part. You’ve seen the case studies out there where there’s multiple parts that are used to build one particular item, and then we’re reducing that inside of the 3D printing process by taking them and designing it to have one particular part inside of the manufacturing process instead of all these extra ones that are attributed to it. And that’s where you see that Total Cost of Ownership really come down in the value.
Tali Rosman (11:11):
Absolutely, and anybody working in supply chain will tell you just the overhead cost that companies have in managing those 10 different suppliers from a procurement perspective, from a contract perspective, from a legal perspective. And having analysts doing forecasting for demand for each one of those many, many parts, all these overheads have to be taken into account because now if instead of 30 parts from 10 different vendors you can reduce it to one skew, one part that you can make on demand; that’s a game changer in terms of supply chain cost.
Adam Penna (11:52):
Totally, it blows my mind when you actually see some of those applications out there and what they are and what they have been to what it’s reduced to into one part, I think there’s… You’ve seen 20+, 70+ different part out there being reduced to one. So, wow, that’s pretty amazing to think about what can be done inside the design process, but that’s a whole nother conversation, you’re talking about the DfAM workflow and what people are getting into as far as education and understanding, what they can do with that value. There’s a lot of that ramping up with education out there, we’re seeing that across the board in a lot of the universities out there that are focusing on what you can do with this design process and its value.
Adam Penna (12:35):
But there’s also the other side that we’re kicking into is that carbon footprint reduction, so talk a little bit about that because I know you also are focusing on that.
Tali Rosman (12:44):
Yeah, I think distributed manufacturing is a great to achieve a lot of the carbon footprint reduction goals companies are having, because if you’re only making what you need and you’re not making access and then scrapping it. And if you’re making it closer to the point of consumption, so you’re eliminating al the transportation, all the shipping, then just by virtue of that you’re significantly reducing the carbon footprint.
Adam Penna (13:11):
Big time, and that’s the stuff that’s not thought of a lot of time in that business case for redesigning a part and it’s a new way of thinking, obviously, to look at the whole picture, not be stuck in your silo; and just trying to change one thing but looking where it’s going to lie in the entire lifecycle of tha part and the ecosystem around it; so that carbon footprint’s a big part of it.
Tali Rosman (13:35):
Yeah, I agree with you, that’s why it’s such a big change because companies almost have to change the incentive structure for their supply chain and procurement people. So, instead of unit manufacturing cost look at Total Cost of Ownership, if you’re measured on UMC you’re going to optimize for UMC, but if we change the measurement to Total Cost of Ownership that’s going to change. And if we start adding a price tag, again, if it’s a virtual price tag or a real one doesn’t matter but if we start adding a price tag to the carbon footprint of the part consumption; these are the changes that have to happen and they’re much broader than just saying, “Well, we have a fantastic liquid metal technology.”
Adam Penna (14:19):
Yeah, it is much broader than that and that’s why you look into the whole play of what’s happening in the ecosystem around it, lifecycle the parts that you’re actually working with. So, that’s the big picture and it’s great to hear you’re working on that, it’s exciting right now. I know you have a lot of insight into what’s been happening in applications too, you’ve been developing applications there was… I think it’s been a while now, you’ve been working with the Naval Postgraduate School and you’re working on print-on-demand, how are things going there with those applications that they’ve been working on?
Tali Rosman (14:45):
Ah, it’s going really well. So we have a great partnership with the Naval Postgraduate School, they were the first ones actually to put their hands on the ElemX liquid metal printer. The Navy has a vision which takes distributed manufacturing to the extreme, they call it The Floating Factory. So the vision is putting a printer in every ship and making parts on demand on a ship, reducing the inventory and also reducing the need to sometimes send planes in the middle of the ocean, which is extremely costly just to get spare parts.
Tali Rosman (15:20):
So, the first step in that process is obviously trying the printer and the capabilities on dry land, which is what we’re doing with the Naval Postgraduate School, and the next step which hopefully will be coming very soon will be to put the force printer on a ship, test it out in the waters, and then hopefully expand and scale from there.
Adam Penna (15:42):
Yeah, that’s not something to be slighted on that’s exciting news. There’s a lot going on especially with the development and the DoD side, I hear a lot of great things happening all the time, from people I talk to, and that being able to go out in the field and do that 3D printing for stuff that you cannot get anywhere else is amazing and it’s a solution that is saving everything from life to time when you look at what’s going on at DoD; so that’s a really cool project, cool application. I was glad to hear that’s coming along, so thank you for the insight on that.
Adam Penna (16:16):
So, what do you see now going into the future? That’s always a question is, “Where are we going next? We’ve gotten to this point, the big push is we’ve talked about a lot of those trends happening inside of supply chain and inside of actually making things better for going on with reduction of waste.” So, what do you think is the big picture for your particular solutions and how you see addressing the industry?
Tali Rosman (16:42):
Yes, as I was saying, supply chain is all the buzz now and many companies are looking to invest actually in the agility of the supply chain, and they need more flexibility and resiliency. So, this is where I think additive manufacturing generally in our solutions, which lend themselves truly to distributed manufacturing can really benefit from that trend and top that off with carbon footprint reduction and everything; I think distributed manufacturing is going to be much, much bigger in the next few years.
Tali Rosman (17:15):
Now, one point that you touched on is the need for the education of the workforce, because it is very complex due to some of these processes and truly get the full benefits if additive manufacturing, including the DfAM and redesigning the assembly for fewer parts. So, there’s two arguments to be made here, one argument is the one you made, we have to invest more in educating the workforce.
Tali Rosman (17:41):
There’s another argument to be made which actual we need to do, is make it much simpler. We need to redevelop automated software solutions hat take a lot of the manual labor that’s done today, and a lot of the tribal knowledge, as we call it, of the AM industry experts and make it accessible, give it to people at their fingertips. Because when you think about distributed manufacturing you no longer have that centralized R&D facility, that Center of Excellence where 30 PhDs are collaborating together. Now you’re not going to have those experts everywhere, so we have to have non-experts be able to run the machines and fully utilize the benefits, or rather the manufacture.
Adam Penna (18:26):
Yeah, that’s the dream of pushing the one button. Just pushing the button and it all happens, and it is getting closer but we have a ways to go and it, again, depends on the application. Some applications are ready to go, you push them and you print right away but the development and what happens inside of understanding where it can go in the full manufacturing scope is still a lot of work, especially since we’re a small percentage of the full picture; but that percentage is due to grow and it is growing. So, we could see how it can be used across the board and be just part of another tool in the toolbox, I hear that saying a lot but it’s the truth, we all need to work together on improving manufacturing, especially on the digitalization side and AM plays a huge part of that.
Adam Penna (19:12):
So now it’s cool to see what you’re doing at Elem Additive, playing a huge part in that and, again, it’s been wonderful talking to you Tali. Is there anything else that you’d like to add while we have you here, because this has been a great conversation.
Tali Rosman (19:24):
Yeah, so first of all thanks for having us. Just so folks know, we’re based in Cary North Carolina and our Center of Excellence is open for visitors, so if you want to come down and see ElemX in action feel free to reach out to me.
Adam Penna (19:38):
All right. Well, Tali, thank you for being a part of AM Voices and I can’t wait to see what’s next there with Elem Additive, so we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.
Tali Rosman (19:46):
Adam Penna (19:47):
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.