A major aspect of ExOne's (NASDAQ:XONE) business is selling 3D printers and services, which are used to produce 3D-printed sand molds that go on to create metal-casted objects.
In the following video, 3D printing specialist Steve Heller interviews David Burns, global head of sales at ExOne, about what segment of the metal casting market the company's ExCast strategy targets, and its overall casting market opportunity.
In Burns' opinion, the market opportunity for creating 3D-printed castings could potentially be worth billions of dollars worldwide.
Obviously, for a company like ExOne, which is expected to generate about $60 million in annual revenue this year, the growth potential could be staggering. However, as Burns acknowledges during the segment, there are numerous challenges in changing the way the metal foundry industry operates. In other words, ExOne investors should temper their expectations in terms of the pace at which the company can tap into this opportunity.
A full transcript follows the video.
Steve Heller: The casting market is obviously complicated. There are a lot of different applications, there are a lot of different types of castings. With ExCast, what spread of the market are you guys targeting?
David Burns: Our technology is particularly well suited for aluminum casting, cast iron, and steel castings. In those material sets, again, that drives us largely to places like aerospace, oil and gas transmission, and that kind of stuff.
Heller: How do you think ExCast could actually change the U.S. foundry industry? Right now I know it's a very fragmented industry [in the U.S.]. I was wondering if you could touch on what your thoughts on how this ExCast vertically integrated solution maybe has the potential to change the way businesses [casting users] operate?
Burns: Well Steve, I think it would be pretty pretentious of me to think that we, as little ExOne, can change the foundry industry. What I do think is that 3D printing can have a profound effect on the foundry process. That's abundantly clear to me.
The idea that you can begin to create models for how to make castings, and those models are digitally based and completely transferrable all over the world [and can be 3D printed], is a very, very powerful notion for a lot of OEMs.
In addition to that, since we don't use wooden patterns anymore we create complete portability of the pattern design itself, the mold design itself. And of course it's stored digitally forever, so there's no deterioration or maintenance or any of those kinds of things. That can be a very powerful driver in how you recognize that you want to be a global supplier of equipment.
The dynamic that we struggle with a little bit is that over the last 20-30 years there's been a significant shift in actual foundry capacity to create castings. A lot of that has shifted overseas, and it's a real conundrum for some of our customers to figure out.
If you want to use 3D printing, it's sort of a local technology. You want to deploy it on site, on time, exactly when you need it. And yet, if your castings are being made continents away, figuring out how to create a paradigm that really works can be a little bit challenging. We're of course interested in being in the middle of that discussion.
Heller: It sounds like there's a potentially large growth opportunity here in terms of ExCast and ExOne's role within the casting industry. Is there a way you could put it into context, into terms that maybe are easy to digest?
Burns: Well, I can cite figures that I think are commonly known. The overall casting industry in the world, the aggregation of it, is measured in many tens of billions of dollars. The front end support, the mold side or the pattern side of that, of course is measured in billions of dollars.
I'm not sure I could exactly quantify the size of the addressable market, but it clearly is measured in billions and not millions. For a company like ours, that's growing, we see tremendous opportunity not only in the U.S., but certainly worldwide.