Frank Marangell, President of BigRep America
It flew by in a blur of great conversations, sessions and exciting new technologies, but while the SOLIDWORKS World 2018 booths have all been packed up and visitors have returned to their home towns and cities, I think we’re just warming up for 2018.
Following up with the visitors who stopped by the BigRep America booth, impressed by our machine, has made me want to revisit the SOLIDWORKS fair and reflect on how it was for us, and why.
For those in the 3D printing industry – especially those in the US – SOLIDWORKS World is an important fixture on the yearly events calendar. We’re a silver partner at the event. The namesake software company puts on an event that attracts attendees from around the world, and one thing they have in common is that they are designing the latest, greatest things, across every industry you can imagine. These businesses need to prototype their designs, and are on the hunt for the ideal additive manufacturing solution for their needs. For example, one custom-design machine shop owner stopped by, asking us how a larger-format printer could better handle his requirements.
Being one of the only large-format printing providers at SOLIDWORKS really set us apart, so naturally we wanted to talk to these businesses about how large-scale 3D printing can change the way they design and manufacture. We continually hear from companies of all kinds that they feel caged in by smaller 3D printers, and lament the hassle of cutting up their prints in data phase. One such customer flew in specifically to see us and the BigRep STUDIO. He liked the size of the printer, and commented on the German engineering quality of the product.
This man, and several others over the course of the event, said to me, “Wow, that’s a pretty big printer.” I was always delighted to be able to reply with, “Yes, but that’s our little one. It’s just one quarter the size of our BigRep ONE.” People couldn’t quite believe the quality and scale you get for the price.
One thing we wanted to do – which I think we achieved – was to showcase the industrial potential of our large-format 3D printers. I think most people at these events walk past the 3D-printed toys and frivolous items, thinking, “Well, I don’t make toys.” And we agree. Our approach is to help companies find solutions to their problems using large-scale, industrial parts. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
That’s why the samples we carted with us to SOLIDWORKS showcased industrial solutions, such as the headrests for Deutsche Bahn, and our innovation department NOWlab’s work on concrete casts with Geiger. These and other pieces were about showing how high resolution can be achieved at speed, and in large-scale. We had a very nice propeller part that we printed with the 0.6 mm, 1 mm and the 2-mm nozzles to show the capabilities of the system and the resolution the STUDIO can achieve. We always reference the material used and the time it took to print, to show that regardless of resolution, it limits a customer’s ability to stay competitive if it takes too long.
Your average SOLIDWORKS user and SOLIDWORKS World visitor is from an SME (small-to-medium enterprise), so we get to interface with them at the event on exactly this – taking their industrial production and prototyping to the next level. You have the big guys with fleets of 3D printers – the Fortune 500 companies – and then a long tail of many other small-to-medium-sized businesses, who are looking to optimize by bringing 3D printing to their processes. It is the perfect place to show these businesses what BigRep machines can do, particularly considering Southern California is one of the biggest markets in the United States for 3D printing, so Los Angeles is the perfect (sunny) place for the event to be held.
While international visitors were certainly in attendance, the SOLIDWORKS room was mostly comprised of US attendees. We were able to meet customers and resellers alike, which is important as we expand our reseller network in the States and internationally. The best part about selling to this industry is that machines are sold bottom-up. They aren’t sold through Amazon or online, they are sold through a salesperson who takes the time to consult and work with a customer directly, locally. Events like SOLIDWORKS remind us of this, because we get that valuable one-on-one time with potential customers and experienced resellers.
We are in the process of creating some tools to better interface SOLIDWORKS with BigRep, as well as looking to work closely with the SOLIDWORKS community. We think they’re the best, and we think we’re at that same level in what we do, so we want to align ourselves with their reseller community. Otherwise, it’s all about gearing up for AMUG and RAPID + TCT in April, as well as many other events after those – then next year it’s off to Dallas for SOLIDWORKS 2019!
Frank Marangell is President of BigRep America Inc. and Executive VP of Global Sales at BigRep. He has been operating at the top level of the additive manufacturing industry for over a decade.
Connect with Frank on Linkedin HERE.