Earlier this year, southern Italy-based Roboze, a young innovative manufacturer of professional FFF 3D printing solutions, appointed Gil Lavi as VP Global Sale with the goal to lay the foundations for the company’s global distribution channels, starting with the EMEA region. With 10 years experience in 3D printing, working for industry leader Stratasys, and with a wide perspective on the market, Lavi could tackle this new adventure with a definite head start. We recently had the chance to speak with Lavi to better understand Roboze’s plans for the future of 3D printing.
3D Printing Media Network: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself – how did you enter this industry and what was your experience before joining Roboze?
Gil Lavi: “I joined Israeli-based Objet in early 2006, when there were less than a dozen 3D vendors in the world. I was given the task to build the company’s distribution channels in Eastern Europe, starting from scratch. That required a lot of efforts back then, mostly in educating the market explaining why 3D printing is needed at all. After 7 years and with the Stratasys merger, I moved to manage the company’s EMEA global accounts, focusing on the implantation of 3D printing in advanced manufacturing processes. My last position was at MakerBot, managing the company’s EMEA strategic accounts. After 10 years, I left the company looking for my next adventure.
3DPMN: How did you meet Roboze and why did you decide to join them?
GL: “I met Roboze at the Formnext show in 2015 while attending as a visitor, meeting different type of companies. Looking at the market back then I saw the continues trend of low-cost solutions, but I was interested mostly in companies with unique technology innovations, something the market was looking for. I met the team – a young and bright group of people with a lot of positive energies, and got to talking with Alessio the CEO and Ilaria the Marketing manager. We immediately felt we have a good bond and my experience can help the company to further develop and expand. My conclusion was their technology has superior offering and can defiantly position them be as a dominate player in the market.
3PMN: Can you explain exactly what Roboze is all about and how do you differentiate yourself from other vendors?
GL: “From 2013-2014 you could see the trend of price barriers breaking down led by MakerBot and other manufacturers. Their goal was to make 3d printing more accessible. They did a great job reaching a wide range of users and in increasing global awareness. However, after a big hype, professional users were looking for affordable solutions but with higher performance. A PLA desktop 3d printer was just not enough, they needed something more, mostly for functional testing applications. This is where Roboze decided to step by offering mid-range solutions, which are positioned above low cost desktop 3d printers and below production printer.
We came with two new great features: firstly, we developed our own beltless technology that takes FFF to real 50 micron tolerance and by that offering superb quality, accuracy and repeatability. Second, we enabled the use of new and exciting high-thermoplastic materials, focusing on solutions for real functional testing in extreme environments, including for metal replacement applications”
3PMN: What type of solutions you offer today and for which applications?
GL: “Currently, we have two solutions. The first is our professional desktop 3d printer the Roboze One, a great tool for producing functional parts in high quality and accuracy, including from ABS & NYLON-12. The results from this printer are so accurate that 15% of our current install base are small orthodontic labs using it for aligner’s application.
The second is our brand new Roboze One+400 – a powerful industrial 3d printer that prints 13 high technical materials for real functional testing. The scope are the following four materials: PEEK, one of the highest performing semi-crystalline thermoplastics today in the market with supreme properties, PEI, also known as ULTEM, which is widely used today in production FDM printers and has very good mechanical properties, CARBON-PA, our reinforced Nylon-12 mixed with 20% Carbon Fiber, and ABS-ESD for electrostatic applications.
3DPMN: Can you give an example of how does these materials provide users new capabilities and for what type of use?
GL: “Sure. Take the Aviation industry for example. Thank to the amazing mechanical properties of PEEK that stands extreme temperatures from -60c to +250c, and has excellent chemical and dimension stability, high technological aviation companies can print durable parts, some as metal replacement parts, and assemble them inside an un-maned drown, helicopter and large plains that goes up to the sky. They remain intact and stand these extreme environments. That is what we call ‘Real Functional Testing’. Another great example is Automotive with ‘under the hood applications’ – printing parts that are assembled and tested inside a car engine that drives, or in Medical – printing surgical gigs and tools that need to be sterilized in high temperatures before getting into the surgery room. So, the potential for using advanced materials is huge from the simple reason it widen the possibilities of professional users to more advanced applications.
3DPMN: Roboze is very much material ordinated company, why is that?
GL: “Good question. Since I remember myself meeting users from small to large companies, in most cases the number one requirement above all was the materials mechanical properties. Over time, most of them had the need to go beyond basic fit-form-function testing. So no matter which technology they used, this need became more and more important. Roboze clearly aim to answer this need, offering innovative materials for advanced applications, but – and here is a critical factor – in reasonable costs. Reasonable I mean offering access to high thermoplastic materials with a printer cost of less than 40K together with affordable costs for the materials as well. PEI (ULTEM) as an example, a great material but not that accessible in mid-range printers, only on production printers.
3DPMN: Let’s talk about your expansion in EMEA ehich was your main task for this year. How that going for Roboze?
GL: “The first steps are always challenging, especially today when there are so many vendors in the market. With the help of our amazing hardworking application and marketing teams, we started to engage potential 3d partners across Europe. I believe in “one picture worth 1000 words but one model worth 1000 pictures”, so after tracking down potential candidates and shorty introducing the company, we immediately sent them our sample kit. Then you get that call saying “ok, only now I understand, parts are amazing, let’s talk!”. After the first few ones joining, we gain confidence and accelerated our expansion when today, in only 8 months, we are close to cover most of the EMEA region with strong and professional partners. Furthermore, we just recently singed our first distribution agreement in India, which was the first partnership out of EMEA.
In parallel to this process, we were focusing on locating strategic customers – global giant industry leaders that will be interested in implementing our technology in their development and manufacturing processes. I’m happy to say that we have successfully completed the first tests and as a result several of them ordered from us Roboze One+400 units. It will help us penetrate large industries demonstrating how far our users takes our technology. We will soon share this information.
3DPMN: How do you see the future of this industry and what are your plan for 2017? The market is getting crowded.
GL: “Yes, you are right. Big players such as HP, RICHO, Carbon3D and lately GE joined the 3d race mostly to develop and provide solutions for the next revolution of digital manufacturing, meaning – printing durable parts to target end use applications. 3d printing technologies which are based on plastic and metal are expected to lead this revolution. The latest GE move in acquiring metal technologies has marked an important milestone in this evolution. As for us, we position ourselves to be in the frontier of plastic additive manufacturing solutions, there for I can sum up the future of Roboze in two words – Materials Innovation. Developing solutions arounds new materials and providing affordable platform for printing innovative and reinforced ones. As for our expansion plans, we will defiantly move soon to the USA and APJ regions to enable our solutions to these highly potential markets.”
Gil Lavi will be presenting at the TCT Stage event at the Formnext show on Friday, Nov. 18th, at 13:30. For more information: https://www.mesago.de/en/formnext/For_visitors/Friday/index.htm