In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews David Burns, global head of sales at ExOne (XONE), about the company's ExCast strategy.
On a high level, ExCast is ExOne's solution to managing complicated casting jobs, where parts are created by pouring molten metal into molds, on behalf of its clients. In these instances, through ExCast, ExOne essentially becomes a project manager, dealing with all of the various steps involved with creating and certifying complex casted parts.
A full transcript follows the video.
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Steve Heller: Hey, Fools, Steve Heller, here. I'm joined today with David Burns. He's the global head of sales at ExOne. ExOne is an industrial-focused 3D printing company, primarily in the sand casting and direct-metal 3D printing market.
Thank you so much for being here today, David. I really appreciate your time. I really want to talk more about the specifics of ExCast in particular. This is a program that you guys have started. What is this all about, on a high level?
David Burns: Steve, welcome back to ExOne. We've interfaced a lot in the past.
At its highest level, ExCast is a strategy that ExOne is using to help diffuse our support for the casting industry more deeply into the casting industry in the United States. We recognized early on that people may struggle to use 3D printing as an element of the casting process, since the fully integrated [casting] process may not support it.
We've taken on the responsibility to integrate a series of steps, really going from the beginning of a casting process and its design, all the way to its finished machine configuration, to try to help support our customers who need that sort of help.
Heller: [ExOne is] like a project manager, for helping a customer along that wants to create a very complicated casting application?
Burns: Sure. If you think about it, we begin with the first step, which is design. We want a design that's supportive of a 3D printing process for its mold, so we help on the front end with the design.
We of course execute the 3D printing of the mold, and again what we've discovered over time is many OEMs find it helpful if we make sure that we interface with foundries that are supportive of 3D printing. We can locate them, and in a sense "certify" them as part of the process -- and machine shops and x-ray and inspection, all the way down to final certification of the part.
Not all customers, but there's certainly a cadre of customers who feel that integrated approach to project management is helpful in their business.
Heller: I see. In terms of what motivated ExOne to get involved with ExCast in this vertically integrated project management solution in the first place, what was the incentive to get involved with this market?
Burns: Like most things that we do, it starts with a customer focus.
There was a group of customers that were supporting, especially aerospace and the defense industry, where there's a lot of legacy work -- castings that, for whatever reason, perhaps had become obsolete over time and needed to be replaced.
As they went out into the marketplace to try to find sourcing for those, they struggled some. I don't think that's hard to understand, since over time, a lot of the raw production of castings has gravitated offshore from the United States, so I understand why they might have struggled with that.
We were pushed early on by some of our customers with pretty complex stuff, largely aerospace and defense, although now we've expanded our notion for how we can support customers into really any complex casting for oil and gas, off-road-vehicle construction, that kind of stuff.