John Hartner, former COO at EnvisionTEC and founder of the Digital Industrialist consultancy firm, is the new CEO at ExOne, one of the first manufacturers of industrial binder jetting systems for both sand and metals. Hartner had joined ExOne as COO in November 2018 and boasts a three-decades-long experience in leading industrial technology companies around the world.
“John is an outstanding leader and has proven to be a strong addition to our global leadership team,” commented former CEO S. Kent Rockwell, who will remain in the company as Chairman of the Board of Directors. “In his new role, he will lead the organization in the execution of our strategic initiatives that focus on profitable growth. These include expanding binder jetting applications, broadening our machine platform range and growing our recurring revenue base.”
Hartner arrives in a very delicate phase for ExOne. The company has been growing and expanding globally however it has also struggled to scale up and fully leverage the potential of its technologies for industrial productions. Sand/ceramic and metal binder jetting are some of the most production-ready technologies and yet they remain niche. Now a number of very large players have entered the metal binder jetting market, including HP, General Electric, Stratasys and the very well funded startups Desktop Metal.
While these competitors can leverage and stronger financial backing and more established global infrastructures effectively, they are also widening the market by raising awareness and targeting new industrial adopters. As was the case with HP in polymer 3D printing, this could actually prove very beneficial for “traditional” AM industry players, who are able to exploit a larger market by leveraging and providing their more established 3D printing solution. In fact, while HP, Desktop Metal and GE Additive all have introduced binder jetting systems into the market, these are expected to have limited commercial availability for at least the next couple of years.
After the post-IPO exploit, ExOne’s stock performance experienced a sharp downturn and in recent years has stabilized around $8-10, as expectations on AM’s ability to truly disrupt the manufacturing industry in a relatively short time have inevitably remained unmet. Now that the time for full industrialization seems to be at hand for binder jetting process, the challenge for Mr. Hartner will be to exploit this moment and lead ExOne towards a new phase of openness and global growth into industrial mass production.
He has the experience to do it. Prior to joining ExOne, Mr. Hartner led industrial technology companies around the world for 30 in the electronics, cleantech, automation and digital printing industries. For almost half of his career, he lived and worked in Asia and Europe. In 2017 he founded Digital Industrialist LLC, a company that advises and invests in digital manufacturing businesses. From 2015 to 2017, he served as Chief Operating Officer of EnvisionTEC, a healthcare 3D printing leader. Previously, he had a nearly 15-year career leading business units of Dover Corporation, rising to the role of President and CEO of the Dover Printing & Identification Segment. Prior to that, he served in various leadership roles with FMC Technologies and Rockwell International.