AM UPDATE: A conversation with Contributing Editor Kip Hanson
Marie, Capital magazine recently named you as one of Germany’s “Young Elite—Top 40 under 40.” Were you surprised, and how did it make you feel?
I was indeed surprised and proud to receive this honor after just one year as CEO. Some might feel that I am too young to lead such a company. And that a tech company needs an engineer at the top. We proved both to be wrong. I was groomed for this role for some years. I have a great team and senior advisers behind me, including my father. While continuing his legacy, I am adding my own strategy for the future.
Have you implemented any significant changes at EOS since taking the helm last year? If so, what were they, and why did you make them?
Where my father, Hans Langer, is the technology visionary and industry pioneer in our family, I wanted to create a culture that will help us implement his visions in ever-changing market environments. That was my starting point.
One key driver is to continue the digitization of our internal processes and the further industrialization of our technology by offering factory-ready machines and complete factory solutions. As such, we are now transitioning from rapid prototyping applications to R&D to full-scale serial production.
Another key driver for me and EOS is sustainability. I accepted the CEO position under the condition that the topic of sustainability will become even more important. My father agreed. We believe innovation and technology can help create a better world for all. Most current manufacturing processes are restrictive, wasteful and inefficient. Additive manufacturing can overcome these limitations. And we want to do our part to accelerate the global transition to what we call “responsible manufacturing.” It is already in our DNA, but we will align our actions even more moving forward.
What about long-term goals? Is there anything you feel needs fixing from a corporate or technological perspective at EOS?
Over the last few years, we have begun enabling our technology for serial production and will continue to industrialize the technology further. At the same time, we will closely accompany our customers on their path of substantial manufacturing transformation. My vision is that EOS will remain a technology leader in industrial 3D printing while making a sustainable contribution to solving our world’s major challenges and promoting economic growth.
Considering that our industry is “just” 30 years old, we haven’t yet fully accomplished the full industrialization of our technology, as high-end innovation takes time. This will be a continuous journey in close cooperation with excellent partners and customers who challenge us every day to develop the best possible solutions. Our technology offers significant advantages to the industries we are already working with, as well as those who have not yet realized its full potential.
The future belongs to digital manufacturing. We will continue to integrate our technology into digital value chains and partner with other experts in their respective fields. At the same time, we will support customers in their factory planning and the digitization of their entire supply chain. Together, we will determine the steps necessary to commission a digital production facility, analyze production requirements, define necessary KPIs and assist with tech implementation. Set-ups will become globally scalable, can be further automated where needed (for example, with shared modules) or fully automated with devices automating the full process chain—all of which support the goal of low cost and high quality.
Do you think your university degree in psychology will help or hurt as you steer the course of what is currently the third-largest 3D printing manufacturer in the world?
We have quite a few psychologists in our broader family, which certainly influenced me to study psychology rather than, for example, physics like my father or brother did. I always wanted to understand how human interaction works and how it can be optimized.
In addition, caring interaction with other people was something I learned from childhood, and it has influenced my management style ever since. I am a true believer in social intelligence and empathy and want to continue to ensure a company culture that supports the strengths of everyone working for us.
My university degree definitely helps, as leadership is a lot about psychology, particularly in challenging situations like the pandemic, and given the constant change inside and outside our organization.
Your father founded EOS. What was one of the most important things you learned from him as a child?
Growing up with additive manufacturing always felt very natural to me. My parents built up the company when I was still a child, so it has always been part of my life in some way. Company matters were discussed at the dinner table, so my brother and I grew up with it and involved ourselves early on. We witnessed what it means to build up a business, sustain it and cope with the growing hype around additive manufacturing.
My father would probably call it a story of risk and reward. Our parents did not push us early on to take over responsibility at EOS. So my brother and I could cut our own paths outside EOS first to find what we love to do. Taking over roles in the company was not an ad hoc decision for my brother [Uli Langer, who is now a start-up investor and shareholder at EOS and other companies] and me, but rather a process.
The one thing I learned from my father is that attitude matters. He is a true optimist, and this is something I have strongly anchored inside of me, as well. And, to be honest, this really helps in this kind of role.
Did he give you any specific advice before passing the torch? Did you heed it?
I would not say he gave me any single bit of advice. It was rather a framework of different aspects that helped me to make this decision, rather than my father deciding I should take over the leadership role.
We started the process of transitioning EOS to the next generation of management in 2014. During the handover process, our family was coached by Professor Michael Bordt. He has been an invaluable support to structure the entire process and to more quickly achieve our goals and determine next steps. He initially requested that we start with training for everyone in our family involved in the transition process—parents and children included—to discover our key drivers.
The process needed to be very open, and it was a very exciting journey for all of us. Bordt also helped me and my brother formulate clearly which roles at EOS we wanted to take over. It ended in a “contract” we “signed” with our father so that the detailed handover process could begin.
I took over various co-owner roles during that time, and, as part of a shadowing program, began accompanying my father to customer and partner meetings.
From the very beginning, I could rely on my parents’ backing and had a strong positioning as a co-owner. My father was gradually able to let go and give me the space to define my new role. He is still a great consultant to me, and we continue an open and regular exchange. We share the same passion for our technology and our family business.
Apart from that, one of my mottoes in life is that “action provokes clarity,” so now this is my time!
The press release announcing your appointment stated that your central concerns are “digitization, industrialization, sustainability and corporate culture.” Why these?
Production needs to become more digital, decentralized and flexible if it’s to adapt to ever- changing market requirements and customer needs. AM addresses this need perfectly.
We believe the future belongs to digital manufacturing, and therefore offer digital solutions for existing and future production problems. Central to the coming years is a combined approach involving digitization, industrialization and sustainability. It will be essential, among other things, to integrate industrial 3D printing into the digital value chain of production and to further industrialize our technology for series production. And sustainability for us is a holistic concept that combines innovation with sustainable manufacturing, making AM a truly responsible technology.
One example of this approach is that AM enables distributed production using a network of geographically dispersed, digitally connected facilities. Manufacturing can happen where it’s needed, resulting in fast response times, increased production flexibility and reduced warehousing and shipping costs.
Products are easily adaptable to individual or regional tastes, and overall, supply chains thus become more resilient and transparent. This is a low-risk
approach as it is a combined demand-driven and localized production that avoids any pre-financing of products, minimum production or over-production.
Drilling deeper, why is sustainability so important to you, and how will EOS address it?
When my father founded the company, industrial 3D printing was a future technology challenging what was then the only alternative—conventional manufacturing. The first 20 years were predominantly focused on developing innovative rapid prototyping solutions, accelerating product development and time to market.
Over the last 10 years, the technology has matured to become a serial manufacturing technology, as well.
So how does sustainability fit into all that? The concept is not new to EOS. Our technology is sustainable by nature, as it reflects the additive principles
found in the natural world. And the application solutions it provides already offer substantial sustainability benefits—lighter weight products in aerospace, for example.
Yet sustainability means much more to me, and with the holistic concept of responsible manufacturing, EOS in the coming years will contribute to making the world a better place.
We want to establish “responsible manufacturing” as the “new normal” in a world that is still adapting to the realities of climate change. We only have one planet. And we need to act now.
Sustainability is becoming a business factor and a competitive differentiator for EOS, our customers and partners. At the same time, it is essential that we all help ensure the world remains a place worth living in for us and for future generations.
Designed for Serial Production
Said to be 20 times faster than a single-laser machine, SLM Solutions’ new NXG XII 600 is equipped with twelve 1-kW lasers and a build envelope of 600 mm in each direction. It is designed for serial production as well as large part manufacturing and boasts a double lens “zoom” function that enables customers to choose between different spot sizes in the focal plane, reportedly boosting build-up rates to 1000 cc/h or more.
Is Metal AM Green?
The global trade group AMGTA (Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association) recently released the results of its first commissioned university research project, a systematic review of the environmental benefits of metal AM, titled, “State of knowledge on the environmental impacts of metal additive manufacturing.” The paper suggests that while AM generally has a much higher carbon footprint per kilogram of material processed than does conventional manufacturing, that footprint is mitigated and, in some cases, outweighed by additively manufactured parts’ generally lighter weight and more efficient use of materials. The full paper is available at https://amgta.org/resources/.
Those who download the Additive Trends Report, at https://markforged.com/additive-manufacturing-movement, will have an opportunity to learn the results of a recent survey, during which the 3D printer manufacturer spoke with more than 100 customers about their use of the technology. The report offers numerous use cases and success stories, but also names a 2019 report from accounting firm Ernst & Young suggesting that 46 percent of companies expect to use additive manufacturing for enduse parts by 2022. According to Markforged, its customer base has already reached that percentage, thanks in large part to the accessibility, design freedom, physical strength and durability, and reliability made possible by metal AM—attributes that “combine to offer demonstrably improved workstreams relative to traditional manufacturing processes.”
A new product from Infinite Material Solutions is said to be the first water-soluble support compatible with high-temperature thermoplastics, such as PEEK, PEKK, PEI, and PPSU. According to company founder Jeff Cernohous, AquaSys 180 is intended for use with fused filament fabrication technology. It can be 3D printed at chamber temps up to 180° C (356° F) and creates support structures that dissolve under warm tap water, eliminating the need for solvents and manual removal operations and “significantly reducing the cost and time of downstream processing.”
Building on Binder Jet
GE Additive and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) have announced a public-private partnership aimed at identifying opportunities for the adoption and development of additive technology within Indiana supply chains, co-investing in research and development of additive manufacturing, factory automation, advanced software development and manufacturing readiness. “Our Binder Jet Beta partnership program is already paying dividends in many ways,” said Josh Mook, GE additive innovation leader. “Now, we’re now looking to extend that industry collaboration. Through the R&D partnership with IEDC, we will create a test bed to work with partners, customers, startups, and SMEs in Indiana and further afield to develop additive-centric innovation and real-world solutions.
Generating Jigs and Fixtures
Stratasys and nTopology are collaborating on a series of easily accessible and customizable design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) workflows for their users. The first of these is the FDM Assembly Fixture Generator, which automates tooling design and enables engineers to quickly turn a part file into a readyto-print jig or fixture with a simple drag-and-drop. It’s available now via a free trial on the nTop Platform. “Our analysis shows that manufacturing applications are currently seeing the most growth in our industry, from $2.8 billion in 2015 to $25 billion in 2025, so we focused our first collaboration on serving that segment,” said Pat Carey, Stratasys senior VP of products and solutions.
OxMet + Betatype = Alloyed
In late 2019, the United Kingdom-based metallurgical company OxMet Technologies acquired the digital technologies firm Betatype. This has led to the development of a new corporate entity named Alloyed, which will bring together the advanced technology brands Alloys-By-Design (ABD), Betatype, and Alloyed Digital Manufacture (ADM). ABD is focused on the development of “superior and customized alloys” while Betatype promises “unprecedented levels of advanced process control and performance” via its powder bed fusion (PBF) technology stack. ADM is the digital manufacturing arm of the new organization, offering its customers design services and pilot production of PBF metal components.