SPEAKER INTERVIEW – Ric Fulop, CEO and Co-Founder, Desktop Metal

  • What does the Future of Manufacturing mean to you and your company?

Fifty years from now, when people look back at the Fourth Industrial Revolution, they’re going to be talking less about IOT and more about how we removed 30-50 percent of the material that we had in vehicles and other products. Everything will be more efficient, and structures will become lighter weight, without actually having to change materials. I’m really excited about the ability to finally apply the benefit of 3D printing into actual products. For us, that’s one of the biggest drivers of Additive Manufacturing to mass production.


  • Industry 4.0 – where is this Revolution leading towards?

We are at the beginning of a new S-curve, one that will forever advance the way we make and trade goods enabling a new era of productivity. A new class of high-speed industrial 3D printers, which are closer to a printing press than a printer, are enabling this change and quickly becoming an integral part of Industry 4.0. These new machines are capable of printing complex parts at a lower cost than traditional techniques like casting. As this technology matures, the points at which the process breaks even will improve, enabling an era of borderless production. In this new model, only raw materials are shipped and factories around the world digitally print parts as they need them for the final assembly of the products they make. There is no tooling and no waste of raw materials. Parts are no longer stuck on ships and planes, instead, they travel as digital files to the locations where they need to be printed for the final assembly.


  • What are the key factors to consider in adopting technologies to achieve a Digital Manufacturing Environment?

With new digital fabrication techniques in place, we will be able to democratize production. 3D printing makes it possible to produce geometrically complex designs for free and liberates designers from the manufacturing process allowing them to create the optimal shape. SMEs will be able to produce goods around the world with equal or greater complexity than their global counterparts. By eliminating tooling and allowing one part to cost as much as 100,000 parts, products can be localized, and designs changed faster. The best designs will be sent around the world digitally and printed on demand circumventing the global tariff and VAT systems that have taxed production since the last industrial revolution.


  • What can be done to further expand the potential of 3D Printing?

The world manufactures more than $12 trillion in goods every year, so it will take many decades to modernize the world’s manufacturing capacity to take full advantage of Additive Manufacturing technology. One thing is certain, at the end of this century, as we look back on how the Fourth Industrial Revolution changed things, we will see mass, borderless production via 3D printing presses as one of the crucial, enabling technologies that drove productivity, economic growth and prosperity. If you peer over the arc of the long future that AM has ahead of it, these are world-changing developments.