As Preet Jesrani puts it, technology holding the promise to change the way the world works only comes along once in a lifetime. He started DesignBox3D five years ago in the firm belief that additive manufacturing will drive innovation and re-invent manufacturing for generations to come.
Jesrani came to additive manufacturing (AM) from a background in management consulting, banking and politics. He consistently heard political candidates campaigning about the ‘next best idea’, saying they would support the next industrial revolution, without them offering a framework for how it would actually happen. Jesrani noticed that in the sense of training, design, production, prototyping, AM has the greatest potential to create high-paying jobs and careers, and we already know AM has revolutionized all those things. “That’s why I came into it, because I saw it as one space that truly created value.”
“One of our long-time clients approached us inquiring as to whether we would offer the BigRep line of large format 3D printers,” said Jesrani, Founder of DesignBox3D – a multi-disciplinary team in Sandusky, northeastern Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie. “We immediately initiated conversations with BigRep and were in discussions with Frank Marangell, President of BigRep America.” Not long after that, DesignBox3D became a reseller of BigRep products.
“Being in northeastern Ohio, there’s a great deal of opportunity when in comes to AM. We’re about one hour from Toledo, an hour from Detroit, not far from Youngstown,” where, he noted, America Makes, the largest accelerator for 3D printing and additive manufacturing in the US, is based. “We’re also just two hours from the state capital Columbus, where there are many venture-funded startups and established Fortune 500 companies, so as we get more traction regionally with BigRep, we expect there will be a lot of business building here.”
Additive has opportunities in the state’s automotive sector, as well as among the many other manufacturers. While not yet as pervasive as it is among major European automotive companies, Jesrani said there are some stellar best practice examples of US companies using additive in their production plans, and a huge opportunity for more.
He explained that the challenge has typically been getting the message through to industry that it is good to adopt and build AM into their production. “It would be great for young companies in their infancy to incorporate additive right from the word go. It would put them lightyears ahead of the competition.”
It is for reasons such as these that Jesrani notes the importance of groups like America Makes. Starting university students thinking about integrating additive manufacturing early is crucial, and one example of this in action is America Makes recently onboarding Ohio State University’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) as a member.
It is still a longer sales cycle for a larger machine such as the BigRep ONE or STUDIO, he explained, though it is shorter than it was a year ago. When he and his team meet with a potential customer, they know that getting internal approvals, making the business case to upper echelons of management and then gathering the budget to purchase takes time. Jesrani says he knows in many cases, somebody they met with some months ago will have the DesignBox3D business card on their desk throughout this whole process – then they give them a call and say, “Ok, we’re finally ready!”
He finds that more and more clients, especially design and engineering teams within corporations, prefer DesignBox3D’s hands-on approach and focus on the customer experience. Rather than being just one in a sea of online-only providers of 3D solutions, when a customer orders something online, we call them and make sure it’s the right fit.
“Before we get this out to you, let’s make sure this is a match,” Jesrani often says to customers who have ordered a product. Because, he explains, as the relationship builds, DesignBox3D customers are ultimately glad for the counsel and advice on the machine that best fits their needs. We also like them to know that if there’s something we don’t have, we’ll bring it in, so long as it fits our quality criteria. “It all goes hand in hand with our approach. We will drive, fly to wherever they are to do an install or a consult and find the best solution.”