In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews Jared Helfrich, global director of direct printing applications at ExOne (NASDAQ:XONE) during EuroMold 2014, the world's largest 3D printing conference held in Frankfurt, Germany, in November. During the segment, the pair discuss what makes ExOne's binder jetting technology unique compared to the more popular selective laser sintering, how the company and similarly focused voxeljet (NYSE:VJET) differ, and what ExOne's longer-term vision looks like.
At the heart of the difference in technologies: Binder jetting doesn't use heat to created 3D-printed objects, making it suitable for a range of materials that selective laser sintering couldn't ever handle, due to the high heat requirements of the technology. In other words, there could be a tremendous opportunity for ExOne to build out its material portfolio to cater to applications that other 3D printing technologies wouldn't be able to compete against.
A full transcript follows the video.
Steve Heller: That's what's very interesting about your technology -- binder jetting being that it doesn't actually use heat. It allows you to work with materials that other technologies such as selective laser sintering cannot.
I think during [ExOne's] conference call they were talking about graphite and some other materials in development. I was wondering if you could talk about the future of your material portfolio, going forward.
Jared Helfrich: Yes, absolutely. We're going to continue to look at materials that are well suited [for binder jetting]. That would be carbon, that would be graphite, that would be ceramics. That would be low-melt-point metals, and it also could be matrix composite metals, as well as additional nickel-based alloys.
We believe that we could have porous material, we could have matrix [hybrid] material, we could have high-density materials, single-alloy materials. We think our process is well suited for all three of those forms.
Heller: Are you seeing a lot of interest from customers, being that not every technology out there can actually work with these materials? Is this a customer need at this point?
Helfrich: I think what's interesting is there's been a lot of focus around high-density, titanium, nickel-based alloys for the aerospace industry -- which is a very good industry -- but I think the focus should be... there are other applications.
There are other industries, and we're starting to see those. We're starting to see our technology play into the spaces. We think that the industrial market is a very good market for us.
Heller: Very good. Let's talk about the competitive landscape for a second. I know ExOne and voxeljet had very similar beginnings, but what makes you guys different at this point?
Helfrich: First of all, we focus on the direct and indirect side [of creating 3D printed objects], whereas voxeljet will focus primarily on the indirect side. They are not focusing on metals, whereas we are.
Then on the indirect side, we're going toward more series [larger-scale] production and we still are looking at the casting applications and ceramics as well.
Heller: Very good. My final question for you today, you know at The Motley Fool we are long-term, business-focused investors. We're not [as] concerned with whether or not ExOne meets earnings expectations next quarter. That's not [as] important to us. What's important to us is where this company's going over the next five to 10 years. I was wondering if you could share [ExOne's] long-term strategic vision with us, and we can go from there?
Helfrich: Yes, absolutely. The way we view it is, our [3D printing] technology makes us well suited for series production and moving into more production manufacturing applications. The faster we can get our machines, the more we can automate, the more you can start to see broader applications and series production beyond prototyping.
Heller: What is your growth strategy? Is it growth by installed base or are you looking for the service center, or a combination of both?
Helfrich: I think it's a combination of both. It's driven by customers. If the quantity demanded by the customer is low, they would probably look to use the service center. If the quantity demanded is very high, then it would be installed base.
I think it's a combination of both, and I think an integrated strategy between those two, it complements each other.
Heller: Last time we spoke, we spoke about the transition, going from targeting the foundries now to targeting OEMs. How is that transition going at this point?
Helfrich: It's going very well. We work very closely with a lot of OEMs, both in our development process and on the production side so we have a very good collaboration with our customer base, including the OEMs and the foundries, so I'd say it's very successful. We are going through developmental processes with fairly large OEMs.
Heller: Very good. Thank you so much for your time today, Jared.
Steve Heller owns shares of ExOne. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of ExOne. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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