David Burns, Chief Operating Officer, explained that the company has a three-pronged strategy going forward: develop a full line of industrial additive manufacturing machines that compete directly with traditional manufacturing methods, maintain a recurring revenue stream by offering parts made through in-house processes, and developing and certifying new materials. To support these initiatives, they plan to go from the current five production service centers to 15 by 2015. Additionally, a new Chief Technology Officer was hired; Rick Lucas has 20 years of experience in research and development, with expertise in advanced materials development. Burns said the company anticipates to certify a new material every six months, and that over $1 million in equipment has been purchased to put into the new Materials Applications Laboratory (ExMAL).
ExOne currently offers production services in stainless steel, bronze, ceramics, silica sand, and glass, servicing firms such as Boeing, Ford, and Caterpillar. New materials means new customers and verticals. Kent Rockwell, Chairman and CEO, understands this fully, saying “Every time we have a new one it does open opportunities, certainly for production and sale of new materials to new customers and the sale of more machines, so we are very anxious to keep that going.” This also puts pressure on the other big players to put money into materials R&D. If we’re going to have consumer-level multimaterial printers by 2016, it’s going to take this bold kind of investing.
ExOne invests heavily in developing new materials
by Cameron Naramore