A (virtual) chat between 3dpbm’s Davide Sher and 3DCeram founder Richard Gaignon
Despite the challenges that 2020 threw in its (and everyone’s) way, ceramic 3D printing pioneer 3DCeram Sinto has persevered and has started 2021 on a high. The company has adapted remarkably well to the changing dynamics of the industry—and business in general—and through it all has remained focused on its key goal: to drive the adoption and industrialization of ceramic additive manufacturing.
We recently had the opportunity to speak to 3DCeram’s CEO Richard Gaignon, who shed light on the company’s current strategy as well as its latest achievements, including new launches and partnerships.
In the interview, Gaignon takes us through 3DCeram’s journey, from its humble beginnings as a part producer to its current role as a key supplier of ceramic AM solutions around the globe. This prominent position has been bolstered as of late, with subsidiaries established in the United States and China, as well as a growing list of international distributors.
Here, the complete interview !
DAVIDE SHER : We finally made it thank you for being here online with me i'm here with Richard Gaignon he's the CEO of 3DCeram of course we all know the company as a pioneer and the leader in the advanced ceramics 3D printing market so let me just start right away with the question how the company was born and how it became part of the sinto group and what that means ?
RICHARD GAIGNON : 3DCeram was created in 2009 or really was developed in 2009. Based on the stereolithography technology and at the beginning you know we were making parts so printing parts and the business model changed in 2015 about and we started to sell the complete process the complete lines, it means printers kilns and the know-how to make it run and we will talk about it later. In 2017 sinto shows interest to us because as you said we are innovative company we are a pioneer company and we are able to handle and to modify or to produce the paste the machine the software and to make parts so the complete process is in our hand so that's what was very interesting for Sinto. Now we are SME part of a big group so we have the advantage of the SME the advantage of the big group. We created subsidiary in china in Wuhan we created a subsidiary in wallingford in the U.S and we have a lot a lot of distributors all over the world. We are ready to step into the future and to connect to the future and to see bigger in order to anticipate the growth of the market and that's why we are currently building a new building facility.
DAVIDE SHER : Let's bring it today and let's start by looking at current events so how are you adapting to what's going to the current crisis ?
RICHARD GAIGNON : At 3DCeram we decided to say okay there is a risk but when there is a risk there is an opportunity so it's time for us to renew the business model or the way we address to potential customers. Our turnover our revenue is mostly over fees we are making more than 90 % outside of France. We change our website in order to be closer to the need of the customer and also we created inside our website what we call a virtual showroom where customers can see the products we are making and can ask for a live demo. What is a live demo ? it means that customer can request with a meeting with a sales guy and then we show him what's going on at 3DCeram, live, machine working parts cleaning parts going into the kiln and so on so you don't even need to come to limoges. We are also doing some small videos about a 3D printing of ceramic with experts which are from 3DCeram or not and they are talking about that.
DAVIDE SHER : Absolutely and i totally, i very much understand the concept of moving and we were you know of course as a digital media we've always been promoting that you know the digital communication for the industry and i can see how that's happening and obviously the covid is accelerating maybe this transition but for a 3D printing company that also has to sell physical products so like machines and physical parts how is this new situation affecting the distribution of machines and is digital installation like remote digital installation something that's actually possible.
RICHARD GAIGNON : that's the second part of Covid first part it was to sell equipment the second part was to train people and the third part is to commission the equipment and do after sales and you're right now we do some remote maintenance we are able also to commission the machine not being on site and for this we train our distributor in order to be aware how to start the machine and so on, so we qualified some distributor.
DAVIDE SHER : What is your current your strategy to develop the ceramics 3d printing hardware market which by the way it's obviously it has new challenges now, but it was something challenging even before right so what is your strategy to develop this market ? what do you think you're doing right ? and what are the main products that you think are going to be driving this adoption of advanced ceramic 3D printing ?
RICHARD GAIGNON : it's not only linked to hardware so you have to think globally when we say process provider we have to think about hardware the printers and the kilns we have to think about the software and i will talk about it and we have to talk about the services how to help customers to acquire the know-how to use the equipment and to develop by himself even further than what we can do or what we know to do. So the motto of our strategy is industrialization and for that we have dedicated printer we have the c100 FAB for fabrication and the big C3600. I'm not saying that we do not address the technical center market there is a dedicated machine for that a C100 LAB like laboratory and we have also the hybrid machine where we can print several material at the same time and the historical machine we call C900 flex. Now for the software we need to develop software which are user friendly so that's why we just launched the build-it software and the build-it software is a way to create the support in one click, to take into consideration for instance the shrinkage x y z in one click, to create a protection if you want to avoid to have deformation during the printing in one click. So something that even me not being a specialist of CAD software I can use and this is the second step hardware software and services. So that's why we created the 3D-AIM where, first we want to remove the risk in the design so it's a study to de-risk the design, then we do second step the prototyping and then the third step is production. Production could be at customer's office or in our office so different way.
DAVIDE SHER : So you mentioned, and i'm very fascinated by this and the reason why we are so fascinated by ceramics is the the end use material and the end use applications and the production applications possibilities of these incredible materials i mean as a journalist in 3D printing i think it's one of the most fascinating area and also because we are a new media in 3d printing we are very interested in production we understand that prototyping is the core of the business but we also understand the prototyping is a consolidated it's been you know we know everything about prototyping already right we want to look at production and so my question obviously is what are the production the applications the key applications for ceramics 3d printing in general and the ones that you think you can target.
RICHARD GAIGNON : So it means right now the interest for production is growing , coming, we see a major player in europe major player in asia in usa who invest in printers. So one of the most important david most important market investment casting, cores for investment casting so we have developed with a partner a way to showcase that it was possible to use a 3d printing cores to put it in the injection mold to put the wax around it and then after to cast the alloy so in the middle you may see the cores that you see in the wax and that's this core. We've just signed a partnership with a company who's named Avignon Ceramic with them we want to go very fast because we are going to promote a new services whose name is U3DC for cores it means the customer who want to develop cores, we can now be much faster because we are working with a core manufacturer that's very good point. So the second field where you see there is a big interest for 3d printing is biomedical. Biomedical industry there are so many different products you can make, you can make teeth you can make skull implant that we are doing since 2007. You can do intervertebral cages bones substitutes and so on and so on there are so many different products and then so we sign another partnership, with a a very well-known specialist in this field is helping our customer to get the certifications. So you see we try to develop everything with internally with partnership but we do see that aircraft industry space industry and biomedical are really the leading market for us and we are really pushing to this direction.
DAVIDE SHER : Have you seen this kind of growth, really an exponential trend and do you see accelerating now ?
RICHARD GAIGNON : So we are still progressing in terms of revenue even though there was the COVID crisis we hope that next year it will be exponential because we have all this partnership going on and we bring really more services to customers but we anticipate a big wave and you know a big demand and we have to be able to supply the hardware the software the services. We are ready to step into the future and to connect to the future and to see bigger in order to anticipate the growth of the market.
DAVIDE SHER : thank you very much for the for this and speak again soon !
RICHARD GAIGNON : thank you David bye