Interview Makerbot's new Method: The first performance 3D printer
After covering 3D printing and its way into the production hall in this issue’s cover story, I took the opportunity to ask Makerbot CEO Nadav Goshen a few questions after the launch of their new product – Method, a 3D printer going the opposite way by bringing industrial technology to the desktop.
Intrigued by the unique positioning of Method after covering its launch, I seized the opportunity to ask Nadav Goshen a few questions regarding the idea behind Method, the challenges of its design and his opinion on the future of the industry. In the following, you will come to understand why Method is not a typical 3D printer and what sets it apart from others.
Nadav Goshen noticed the absence of advanced 3D printing from the desktops of professionals. Often, the printers present were insufficient at meeting the ever increasing demands. The answer to this dilemma was Method: “We built Method for professionals who need immediate access to a 3D printer that can deliver industrial performance and at a significantly lower cost. Method brings features that were previously only available on industrial 3D printers to professionals in a much more accessible form.” The Makerbot CEO understood that time is not the only crucial factor in prototyping, but that reliable quality was just as important for any prototype. Usually, the process of developing such a detailed prototype could take weeks.
With Method, this is reduced to hours and can be done in-house. “Method brings a much-needed tool downstream, making industrial technologies available to individual designers and engineers to enable them to accelerate their development processes.
“When designing Method, it was important to deliver all the functions needed in a small package. What needed to be adopted from industrial printers was a trial and error process for Makerbot. The customers’ needs were always most important.
“Without features such as a circulating heated chamber, performance dual extruders, sealed material bays or a rigid frame, we would not have been able to deliver industrial-level precision and reliability. We incorporated industrial technologies into a much more accessible form and at a disruptive price point. We also conducted extensive testing along each step of the development process, from component-level testing to large-scale demonstration testing, to ensure we are delivering a high-performance 3D printing experience to users,” Goshen explains. And everything that had previously occupied large industrial halls now had to fit on a desk.
First performance 3D printer
Nadav Goshen is rightfully specific about separating his product from other desktop 3D printers: “Method was built with industrial DNA at its core. It is the first performance 3D printer, and makes industrial 3D printing features accessible to designers and engineers.” The "common" hobbyist desktop 3D printer lacks the industrial capabilities of Method. They are not able to fulfill the ever-increasing demands of professionals.
Next, I wanted to know about Nadav Goshen's insight into the market. I asked where he thought the AM sector is headed in 2019. He recognised the increasing need for MA and, thus, for 3D printers that can match these demands at the prototyping stage.
“We are seeing additive budgets grow and shift toward manufacturing with new metal and other technologies. As companies continue to implement advanced forms of additive manufacturing, it is critical for companies to adopt 3D printing on a larger scale and to have prototyping 3D printers that can match the complex geometries required for the end-produced parts.”
While this is exciting, it also puts increased pressure on companies that might still be lacking the adequate tools to deal with the increased demands, Goshen explains. The problem is the gap between design/prototyping tools and the machines in production halls. Too much time is lost here.
“Method is [the] solution. With Method, designers and engineers have direct access to an industrial-grade 3D printer at a significantly lower cost.” This is important for companies as the tools of designers need to match the technological standard of the industry. With AM becoming increasingly important in various fields, an investment in the right tools appears just as important as the production methods.
“We need to grow an additive manufacturing mindset”
Lastly, I asked about the challenges Nadav Goshen sees for the industry in the future. “We need to grow an additive manufacturing mindset within organisations. Although still in its infancy, advanced industrial additive technologies are radicalising traditional manufacturing processes with the ability to create custom, short-run parts.”
Many companies are struggling to stay competitive. The constant pressure to innovate and design in less time is one of the great challenges a lot of companies face. But with the increased importance of AM come the the new design possibilities that simply were not possible in the past. Utilising these to stay on top is the key to a successful future.
“However, this requires engineers and designers to “think” and design in advanced manufacturing. We are making 3D printing more accessible to the full workforce. By having Method next to any engineer or designer, we are helping to spread the additive manufacturing mindset so that they can design better products in the future.”
The increased importance of AM and the constant need for innovations in less time brings opportunities and problems alike, as the cover story (for instance) has shown. To deal with them and at the same time make the most of this new technology is a great challenge. As I learned in my interview with Nadav Goshen, Method was designed to face this challenge by not only cutting down the time for prototyping, but improving the quality at the same time.
I want to thank Nadav Goshen for taking the time to answer my questions.