Tuan Tranpham | 3D Printing: Plastic, Metal, and Composite

 In Being an Engineer Podcast

Who is Tuan Tranpham?

Hear Tuan Tranpham‘s firsthand account of escaping Vietnam as a refugee at the age of 6, landing in a Malaysian camp, then landing in Denmark where he lived for the next 20+ years.

From Denmark, Tuan Tranpham came to the US via Intel during his semiconductor days, then quickly transitioned into the 3D printing space where he has spent the last 18 years of his career becoming an expert in plastic, metal, and composite 3D printing technologies.

Tuan currently works for AREVO, where they have developed a 6-axis robotic process for “true” 3D printing of composite materials.


printing, 3d printing, metal, carbon fiber, composite, technology, tuan, 3d, denmark, big, danish, bike, furnace, years, part, vietnamese, sintering, extrusion, frame, system
Aaron Moncur, Tuan Tranpham

Aaron Moncur 00:14
Welcome to the being an engineer podcast. Our guest today is Tuan Tranpham who has been working in the 3d printing space for the past 17 years. In fact, he refers to himself as a 3d printing evangelist has a very interesting history before moving to the US in early 2000. But we’ll get to that, Tuan currently holds the title of Chief Revenue Officer at a Revo where they manufacture composite 3d printed components for everything from bikes to flying cars. So with that, Tuan, welcome to the podcast.

Tuan Tranpham 00:49
Thank you so much, and thanks for having me. I’m super pleased to be here today.

Aaron Moncur 00:53
Great, great. Well, well, let’s, let’s kind of start at the beginning here. You have been in the US for about 20 years. But But before that, you You were born in Vietnam, and you ended up emigrating to Denmark. Can you tell us a little bit about that, that transition?

Tuan Tranpham 01:12
Sure. So back in, so my great grandfather is Chinese. So in his 79, there were a border dispute with China. And so therefore, any Vietnamese with, especially with Chinese heritage, were not so popular. So I was part of the migration about a million Vietnamese escape and left the communism and Vietnam back in 79. And about half of them died due to pirates or stone. Big chunk, a big group went to Hong Kong and other big group went to Thailand. But big Chuck went to went straight south to Malaysia, and the Malaysian Coast Guard just picked everybody up, put us on a four acre it was an island is not a resort. It was an island that was supposed to fill 5000 Vietnamese boat refugee, it ended up having 40,000 Vietnamese

Aaron Moncur 02:12
40,000. And then this was all I mean, it was it was not like you were in a, you know, a nice cruise ship or a yacht went to Malaysia. Right? You were I mean, I’m assuming packed into small boats, and you had to brave the sea and pirates. It sounds like Do you remember much from that time,

Tuan Tranpham 02:32
so I was barely six. I don’t remember much besides what my parents told me, but remember is more than that. It says, getting a seat on one of these rice boats. And you know, it’s not like you can tell people, Hey, you want to buy a boat? Here’s a shuttle to somewhere else. No, it’s all stealth. If you get caught by the police, you go into jail, or rehabilitation camps and all that. But to get a seat, you have to sell everything my friend so everything to just to get the seat for us. And they had I have two younger brother back then. But you saw all your life savings and ready to get the seat and knowing that you might die by pirates or so. And if you’re lucky and you bump into a tanker, you have to destroy your boat so that they by law have to rescue you. Otherwise, they are not obligated, they can just sail on and not rescue you. So it’s it’s not that straightforward.

Aaron Moncur 03:27
That is incredible. That really makes me grateful for the very comfortable life that I have enjoyed. Well, you spent some time in this camp in Malaysia and then ended up in Denmark where if I have my history, right, you live for over 20 years. What what did you do in Denmark?

Tuan Tranpham 03:48
So so we really want to go to the US. That was my that was all the Vietnamese because of the war. The Americans helped us out. I was born in Saigon, which is hochiminh city. So everybody knew of the US and wanted to go. So you can imagine the wait list is pretty long. Alternatively, we go to Australia. That was the other alternative. So we were hoping to go to the US. But my youngest brother had an ear infection and he he needed medical attention. And the Danes were like why don’t you go to Denmark is like where’s Denmark? But it turns out that that the waiting list to Denmark was much shorter. And it turns out to be awesome for a refugee because it’s very socialistic. The government you’ll pay more than 50% tax but free education, free dental health care, it almost pays to remain unemployed and getting a low paying job. So really, it’s a really good country. I could be studying whatever I want to become as long as my grades were good. So it worked out well. So when I got there, when I was Six. So we only end up in the camp Malaysian camp for six months. Some stayed for four, four years. But so I grew up in Denmark south of Copenhagen. So you can say that after 23 years, done the schooling and high school and military service and got my business engineering degrees. I’m very Danish in my mannerism in the way I think, because I was brought up by the, amongst the Vikings, right? The danger of the original, the Scandinavian don’t know which and Viking so they’re all every way. I was like, the only Asian kid in my class. And around me, I have all these white blonde Danes much taller than me. So I still

Aaron Moncur 05:46
I can appreciate that I grew up in Hawaii, where I was the only white kid in the class, you know, everyone else was really Japanese, or Hawaiian, or Filipino. And then there was me the Holly, in the class. Yeah, I can relate for sure. You mentioned growing up amongst the Danes, what, what kind of, what’s the culture? Like? What’s the mindset like there? What are some of the I don’t know, mannerisms are things that you took from from growing up in that culture?

Tuan Tranpham 06:17
Well, I will say, I feel very blessed and thankful to have grown up in Denmark is a very good country, very socialistic, very caring. And remember is in the Danish blood, the Danish Viking, they’d like to travel, they like adventure. They are considered. They have done a lot of DANIDA work, humanitarian services and support hospitals, but both into Asia. So they have a lot of goodwill, good people, good intention, they took a lot of refugees back in the 7980s. And they were also very good at integrating them into the Danish society. So it was there were they even a body system for each refugee family, there was a body family of Danish, that who volunteered to integrate you. So my summer was spent in I thought I was being adopted, given away, but I was actually being part of the summer camp living in a Danish family, for the few months of the summer to get into the Danish society, the dark bread, the rye bread, not the baguette, bread, bread, so it was a good experience. It’s very Scandinavian.

Aaron Moncur 07:43
That’s amazing. Wow, that’s fantastic. Sounds like a truly terrific experience that you had there, given what you were coming from.

Tuan Tranpham 07:52
So I also felt like I have to, I was always brought up to be very grateful. So also give back to society. So I did do military service into in case I needed to defend Denmark, and also did the voluntary National Guard for five years to keep my military skill sets. So I felt like I was giving back to society, who has been so good to me. So yeah, very good experience. Absolutely. But then after a while, they have this, this gentle now, because I’m mentioned is a little bit socialistic. So that meant that they do not encourage you to be the best that you can be. So there is this, don’t think you’re better than your neighbor or try not to stand out. Did you know In Denmark, they don’t celebrate award individual achievements. That is a big no, no, it’s only group we do as a group. We don’t celebrate that. So when I work for Danish company got acquired in ad I just joined a small semiconductor company. And four months in we got acquired by Intel for 1.2 5 billion in March 2000, before everything dropped, that was the biggest acquisition in tennis history impacted the profit from that sell pink hats to the government. It was a the country made a lot of money on that deal. Oh, yeah. So then I learned the American way of doing business, which is very different one the way of the Danish business, environment and behavior, where now the Americans they celebrate individually accomplishment. That was a big no, no.

Aaron Moncur 09:34
And how did that sit with you when you saw these individual rewards from from the US? Did you think to yourself, Oh, that’s terrible. What are they doing? They shouldn’t be celebrating individuals, or did you think hmm, I like this. I’d like to experience more of that.

Tuan Tranpham 09:49
Yeah, so so there was a LinkedIn post I posted on July 4, that even during my high school years, I always had a dream that I might Ben wants to end up in America. So to answer your question with Intel only validated that they want you to be the best you can be, which is what I wanted. And I saw that opportunity that that could be my ticket for the next bull ride, in this case is the plane ride to the US. And then I convinced Intel to relocate me on a elwen be an intercompany transfer to do my American dream. So I convinced them to expand the business that they acquired by giga, that I could help the revenue growth in the US by relocating me, to the US. But they said on the condition that you wouldn’t have asked us to sponsor your green card, paper at least and cut over to the US, right? What’s the only time I need to find another step? How do I get the citizenship? So one step at a time I got so I arrived, I was relocated November 2002. So I’ve been in the US for 18 years. Except for two years in Hong Kong, I’ve been based here in Boston, but my my, my original dream was to be in Silicon Valley. Be in California, it was three things it was having an old convertible see palm trees and live by the ocean and small place to sleep because I was gonna work and become the best that I can be because they might was a little bit too small a pond for me to swim in. So when you are a refugee, when you come from nothing, you’re not going to be stopped by good enough. You want to see how far you can go. But luckily, by coincidence, I call it my accidental passion. Even though I, I started out called Export engineering to convert it to the USS like business engineering. And we didn’t even have a 3d printer back in 92 to 99. So I call 3d printing my accidental passion because my, it’s always because of a girl. So I didn’t go

Aaron Moncur 12:02
start with the girl, right.

Tuan Tranpham 12:04
And the girl studied at BU, so I had to come and had to be in Boston, but because of her, who’s not my wife, her friend’s friend happened to be the financial controller at Zico, which were the only two 3d printing big 3d printing company with a product below 100,000. And that was equal. And that was how I got introduced to 3d printing by accident. And it was a way for me to stay in the US because they would then I knew that Intel would never sponsor me to become a citizen. So I had to jump anyway. And Telecom was going down over 2000 2001 2002. So 3d printing looked pretty cool. I fell in love with it. And they on the condition that they will get me an h1 B and sponsor my green card. Those are my condition. Yeah. And that’s how I got my green card.

Aaron Moncur 12:56
Fantastic. Well, you started at Z Corp, which was later acquired by I think 3d systems, right?

Tuan Tranpham 13:05
It’s actually funny, it actually was acquired 2005 by a Danish company first. Oh, interesting. They did white format, to D, wide format, printing and scanning, context scanning. And they even did those for HP. So we were acquired by a Danish company, and they asked me to come back to Denmark. And I was not going to come I didn’t do all this work to go back to Denmark. So I stay put and stay true to Zico in this hostile takeover and didn’t jump ship. And then later, the whole lot was acquired by 3d system in 2010, for 137 million when I jumped into this system, and advise them to buy ZICO.

Aaron Moncur 13:47
Ah, so that that’s how that happened. So you have some unique insight into 3d printing companies, and how they compete in the market. It seems to me like 3d printing has become so ubiquitous that it almost feels like a commodity these days. And I have to imagine it’s really difficult for some of the smaller you know, boutique, 3d printing service bureau companies to compete with these the big boys like, you know, proto labs and Stratasys and 3d systems. How, how are smaller 3d printing service bureaus competing with these larger companies? Or are they not Are they just getting you know, smashed right when they start their company?

Tuan Tranpham 14:31
Yes, so, so I’ve seen a lot let’s last 17 years, but if you look at from a materials point of view, from plastic to composite, plastic for prototyping, composites for tooling and metals for manufacturing. Then to answer your question the early days. Plastic machine were very expensive, so only the Boeing and Airbus the big aerospace company could afford Got it. But as those technologies, those patents expired, the rise of form labs and vision tech and other more affordable but high quality engineering, industrial grade material, then service bill to differentiate themselves, they had to move to a better material, more expensive material. Because the easier FDM extrusion base or formulas, equipment that used to cost 100,000, you can get that for 4000. So it changed the market and democratize certain certain application, especially prototyping, so the incumbent move on to tooling. And now we’re moving over to metal and titanium and so forth, as prototyping is becoming more commodity, not tooling and manufacturing. Because when you do prototyping, when good enough is good enough. Well, manufacturing, you need to do not one to five of 1000 different part for manufacture, you need to do 1000s of one to five part and they have to be identical, they have to be a high quality to avoid recalls and lawsuit. So the requirements is much more difficult. So while there are minimal players, to give you some idea when I entered into this industry, the whole industry was not even a billion in valuation the whole industry in 2003. And and not until last year in 2019, did it just pass 10 billion. So it has a projection and direction to become a full grown 100 billion dollar industry. And by my experience on my calculation, it should take at least 70 to 20 years more, but that’s okay, I’ll be retired by that time. So I’m gonna ride this wave. So

Aaron Moncur 16:56
that’s your convertible with the palm trees. Right? Yeah.

Tuan Tranpham 16:59
So I wish that people have have advised me as an engineer that choose or technology, choose a career path in a technology that you can go with. And not. So to be selective, and try to choose a growth. Of course, there are risks, but but if you pick the right new technology, like AI, or machine learning, automation, all, whatever new technology you can think of, you could build a career on that. I guess that’s what I’ve done deliberately. Because passion is also commitment. So I was committed to 3d printing. Therefore, now after 17 years, now I’m at my seventh 3d printing manufacturer. And, and, and they’re all the biggest one in the industry. So I’m really been riding this wave where most of the players you see today, like carpet and desktop, metal, HP, didn’t weren’t even on the map five years ago. So imagine, so fast, it’s changing so fast. And imagine five years from now you will have new players, either I protect, like Google and Amazon and Apple would be in 3d printing. And they’re not even on the map. So I’m excited about the future. And it’s been it’s been a ride.

Aaron Moncur 18:24
Well, I liked that. You mentioned desktop metal, because they were one of the companies that which you work that I wanted to talk about a little bit. They of course, manufacture 3d printers that print metal, something they do that I didn’t realize was they also make a machine that rivals the mark forged machines which we use here at pipeline, and they print with continuous carbon fiber. I imagine you’re familiar with Mark forged having worked at at desktop metal, what what are some of the differences between the desktop metal carbon fiber machine and the the Markforged machines? Sure.

Tuan Tranpham 19:03
And so I was the chief revenue officer at SR metal I joined September 2016. When it was with a valuation of 100 million. I was part of the team that grew to 1.5 billion. The initial focus of the company was to dish out high speed binder jetting. In addition to effort that was to address the production segment, for prototyping, it was an extrusion FTM process. But as we learn, so I left as a matter last year and join a Revo this march but what we learned is you as you get exposure to a lot of applications, sometimes metals is just overkill, you don’t need metal, and sometimes composite is is good enough. So to answer your question, the product that the lady came out was announced at formnext was called dem fiber. And it was really to take a novel existing technology with automated fiber placement by tape that has already been used for 20 years. Big White prepreg tape that you when you fly on planes, those planes, fuselage or wings were made by those tape. So you have these huge robots, printers system for two, 3 million, and we’ll put out this white tape, you the heated up is like prepreg with most likely pique with some kind of aerospace graded carbon fiber and spread out this tape is usually more than four or five inches wide. And then you have a compact compaction roller. And that’s how you have the placement of the carbon fiber basically took that concept and miniaturized that. So, so you can call it a micro AFP. So basically, if you shrink that down to a small tape of two, three mm millimeter, you miniaturize that, and you can fit it on a FDM MakerBot typical extrusion and you have interchangeable head, you could have if you say you’re printing a dish, you could have the perimeter based by the second hand, which is a normal FDM like a MakerBot or our dimension, but the inside to have reinforcement, you could switch over to the micro AFP tape that is flat it is and you put that to reinforce in different direction, because carbon fiber, unlike metal is not isotropic, meaning the same property x y z is only directional. So it’s x and y, not z. So you need to mesh those layers. But gantry plays system you can do Z string will always be the weakest because you’re just putting tape on top of each other.

Aaron Moncur 22:06
Okay, so functionally it sounds like pretty similar to the Markforged machines Markforged is not trans

Tuan Tranpham 22:13
Yeah, instead of brown filament it is. But most of them mark for sales and success to my understanding has been the Onyx chouf carbon fiber is not yet in use. And if you continue will always be superior. But it depends on the application and your available budget. Right?

Aaron Moncur 22:32
Sure. Yeah. So Mark forge does have continuous carbon fiber as well. That’s what we use a lot. And just, it doesn’t even matter Mark forge or desktop metal, the technology using continuous carbon fiber, I think is so valuable. I mean, we do mostly test fixtures and equipment. And we’ve used those printed parts as final deliverables for a lot of this stuff because the continuous carbon fiber makes the parts you know almost as strong as aluminum. They’re really strong. Yep. So it’s probably

Tuan Tranpham 23:03
so I share your excitement by because for years to talk about plastic 3d printing, and then there was this big buzz about metal 3d printing last five years, it was very clear to me people seem to neglect that in between composite actually have depending on the application, you could make parts that are five times stronger, more than five times stronger than titanium, and a third of the weight. So if you want something lighter and stronger, there is a space for composite where people really don’t understand or know that because the early days a composite not enough marketing dollars has been put into composite and therefore you saw a lot of the attribute a lot of the promotion and teaching and inspiring the market with carbon fiber is Mark forge but but they were only known to be good for jigs and fixtures. They want it to be to end product but in part of might be bigger than just a smaller Bill envelope and they need something bigger.

Aaron Moncur 24:06
Well this is a good place to take a quick pause and share with our listeners that the being an engineer podcast is powered by pipeline design and engineering, where we work with predominantly medical device engineering teams who need turnkey custom test fixtures or automated equipment to assemble, inspect, characterize or perform verification or validation testing on their devices. And you can find us at test fixture design.com we’re speaking with Tuan Tranpham today who is truly an expert when it comes to 3d printing, and probably has more experienced with the technology than than anyone else that I’ve ever met. We started talking about metal 3d printing. And I’ve I’ve always seen prices for metal 3d printing being relatively expensive, certainly a lot more than than the plastic 3d printing counterparts. You Do you see that as being the case long term? Or should we expect for prices for for 3d printed metal parts to start coming down here in the next, I don’t know, three, five years.

Tuan Tranpham 25:11
Absolutely. And that’s mainly going to be driven by a new print engine of metal binder, jetting the car, because what I’ve learned was that a customer would ideally learn a technology, a system and printing system that they can leverage not just for prototyping, but all the way to that learning to do manufacturing. So when desktop metal had the metal FDM, which was extrusion, base, defining and centering, whatever you learn, you can only get the material property that you can on that system, you couldn’t transfer that knowledge to a binder jetting system, which is it’s not extrusion, and is not rock based, but it’s a powder bed. So So therefore, that’s why you saw this a metal saw that there is a need for an affordable metal binding jetting system that could do prototyping tooling and manufacturing, instead of 600,000. A million, but get it down to 150. So once you do that, to answer your question, the dominant metal technology today has been the last 26 727 years has been laser powder bed, but his laser bit so laser driven. So it is essential hypertension micro welding layer by layer. So you can find by how quickly you can have your melt pool using your laser beam one, two, or four or more. But those are very expensive. So driving the cost down doing indirect metal with metal binder jetting, and just print them good enough in the green stage, and just putting them into a sintering furnace and doing batches. And this is to answer your question. This is when you have the financial justification of a tennis ball moving costs of dollars per cubic inch, that two cents per cubic inch. Because you’re not using laser, you’re literally just using metallic powder, and a binder and abidance mainly water with some kind of glue content. That’s the secret sauce, when you can have the productivity and throughput. Your only constraint is not the sintering furnace. But then you do batches of much. So instead of 510 cubic inches in in bill rate, biogenic can get you up to four or 500 cubic inches per hour.

Aaron Moncur 27:39
And that technology exists now, right? I mean, actually, it’s metal, it’s actually been

Tuan Tranpham 27:44
around for quite a long time to x one, they were the only player but I don’t know do to leadership due to marketing due to the lack of their own sintering furnace to complete the process to make a metal pot. It the core competency of decimal is actually the sintering furnace, I will not be surprised, I predict a future where Decimator will be more famous for being a sintering furnace company than actually 3d printing company. Ah, interesting.

Aaron Moncur 28:14
Okay, maybe they’ll start selling their sintering furnaces to other metal 3d printing companies, they could

Tuan Tranpham 28:19
if they want to, because if you look at the entire industry, even with the dinosaurs of Stratasys, and 3d system, for the last 35 years, none of them have offered a sintering furnace. Nobody’s offering that not even Swedish, digital metal or anybody else. So the furnace was the bottleneck that desktop metal sought to internalize, because they somehow knew that they could sell it out or printers. But unless the supply chain could fulfill and support teaching furnace at affordable rate, instead of three, four or $500 per section furnace, unless you can bring that below 100,000 This can be a very expensive value proposition. So fixing that. Yeah, that’s um, I could own the whole market by just fulfilling certain furniture, all the players in the market today and in the future if they wanted to.

Aaron Moncur 29:13
Interesting. Okay, well, your current role is with a company called areevo, which is focused on composite manufacturing in if I think I have this right on demand production environments. Can you share a little bit about the technology that allows a revote to serve as both on demand and production quantity customers?

Tuan Tranpham 29:33
Sure. So before answering that, I was a so I spent the first 11 years of my career in plastic polymer 3d printing. And I got super excited about metal and I spent the next six years in metal with this Swedish art cam and that there’s a metal when I thought about my next move, I realized that that’s why I let make the commentary that between plastic and metal that was compiled said, and there was, I believe there’s a growth potential if people knew about it, and as the technology progresses, that there could be more applications done with competitors. So I joined, I was lucky, fortunate to join a weevil, early March, just when pandemic hit the market, where no, where there were now, less jobs available. I was I was lucky to get a job starting March 1. So I tried to be evil at River as a chief revenue officer. And I will say the two reason why I joined them was one of the people. And because they had six years to mature, the technology, I thought it was it was ready to be commercialized. And what I found fascinating is not only is it so basically it’s a filament. But it’s a pre prep with half peak half aerospace graded as for. So it’s 5050 in fiber void content. So it’s a pre prep, we have that filament, it goes to a six axis robot arm, and to a deposition head, you have a laser source that heat the filament, you heat up the peak, at the same time you hitting the previous substrate, and then you have the deposition. And as you deposit the filament that you heat it up with a previous substrate, you have a compaction roller, that’s push it together. So you have very strong xe, a material property. So I thought robotics is part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I thought composite could be stronger than metal and lighter. And, and what I learned from my 17 years of 3d printing is that the weakest link 20 minutes basically hardware software materials, but lucky in the process, but a software designing for additive or designing for the technology or the materials, the mid software was the weakest link. And most 3d printer manufacturers software was basically just a slice of you input some kind of cat, and you slice it up, and you just, it’s just a dumb slicer, just doing the toolpath. But what the market really needs is a customer you need Billy need it. Can I take my design? Can I do additive FAA analysis? Wouldn’t it be nice that the software can do topology optimization, morphing to a topology, optimized geometry, and then create virtually potential toolpath and then do a virtual simulation, knowing all of this before you hit print, and then it prints, there’s only one company that can do that in the entire industry. And then it’s only available. So that’s a metal might be the core competence might be of the many the sintering furnace, I will say a weevil is actually a software and not a robot and

Aaron Moncur 32:57
saying can you share some of the parts that areevo has helped customers redesign in composites that maybe historically had been produced with you know, maybe casting or other more traditional manufacturing processes? And what was the value proposition for the customer moving to a 3d printed composite material?

Tuan Tranpham 33:20
Sure. Are you a cyclist by chance do you like

Aaron Moncur 33:24
I have been in the past

Tuan Tranpham 33:27
so so remember that the composite carbon fiber was already in 3d printing to again tree FDM system, like Mark Ford, it needs to print 90 Labs, but they were confined by a smaller Bill envelope. The river system is a robotic, not only it’s a six axis robot, but with a rotating Bill table. And that’s awesome for we only offer continuous carbon fiber. So this is how you can do a very oval unibody structure is perfect. So to answer your question we explored making buys a bike frame two years ago for Emery, the emery bike was one of our first prototypes for making a 3d printed bike frame to see if we could do it. So to answer your question for the last many decades, when you want to buy a full carbon fiber bicycle from tracks, specialized Pinarello those who don’t buy manual layup have often three 400 patches of carbon fiber patches or waves, and then they were manually placed by a human. And then they were usually thermostats that need to go into an autoclave and often and then fuse it all together to make a strong frame. So manual labor sintering autoclaving. And there were a lot of challenges of making a strong robots frame because it could shatter because it’s just basically a lot of pain. Just coming together. So we thought that doing using continuous carbon fiber for a unibody bike frame could be a killer app for areevo. So we took it to the next level, learning from our early days of emery by doing an E scooter. The model that we showed as a marketing application, we decided to do a superstar bike, which we launch about 15 days ago on March 13, on Indiegogo, because if we want to show the market that it can be done, we have to show them. So we design a bike with the five, six weeks did a functional prototyping, we did a video, and we launched on an Indiegogo for half the cost instead of 4000, you can buy a fully 3d printed, customized to your size. For right now today’s like more than 50% of a 3d printed by unibody. Without the C two, there’s no C two, because we’re using continuous carbon fiber layer by layer. And we can choose the direction of that we can bypass the C two. And also we can customize the hollowness inside the down tube to fit the battery. So whether your bike in our supersonic bike, or a bike, it looks identical and the outside is whether it has a battery inside or not. So it’s the same. So basically you get a bike that doesn’t look like any by

Aaron Moncur 36:32
now you’ve you mentioned that the areevo process for depositing the fiber uses a six axis robotic arm. Is that right? Yep. So does that mean that as opposed to traditional 3d printers where the printing head, you know, it moves around in x, y, and then it raises or lowers in Z? Does that mean that the removal process allows the printing head to have much more flexibility in terms of degrees of freedom, it’s not just stepping up one layer at a time in the z direction, but it can, you can move around in almost infinite directions. If it’s a six axis robot, I

Tuan Tranpham 37:08
can tell you an engineer because you you’re spot on the reverse system is actually true 3d. Like you said, we believe that all the FDM system, even Markforged is really two and a half d because the only difference is they still have a gantry xy to move ahead and is only the bed can only go up and down the Z. Right. So a river with a six axis robot arm you can do true 3d You can curve the head. So now the first few lines the bottom of this canoe that I’m showing you, you can have it XY like a gantry system, but then you can switch to do it oval I can curve and if you want to because we have a built rotating table, we can actually print vertically on this side and then continue 90 degree on the other side. So we have true 3d mobility in our deposition. And this is how you get a superior not just X Y string but X Y Z

Aaron Moncur 38:14
string. That is very cool. And I encourage all the listeners to go to the super Strada website and there’s some video of this printing head is really neat. I mean, it’s just like Tuan mentioned this this six axis robotic arm this laying down fiber very cool. Oh, shucks, I had a question and then I lost it. Well, Tuan tell me what are some of the biggest challenges that you face in your industry?

Tuan Tranpham 38:43
I would say if you look at what I’ve been trying to do, right is the last 17 years I’ve been trying to sell 3d printing system. But to really understand additive manufacturing, a face that all the software engineers were by education for the last many decades, they will educate for subtractive manufacturing. So it I learned that the younger engineers who might have seen a 3d printer during the college, Technical College, the younger engineers are more open to newer technologies versus the previous generation, they only understood designing for casting or milling, machining subtractive technology, and they really don’t get the little bit worried about what is all this additive. So there was this is relating to why software is the weakest link because people don’t understand additive manufacturing that you have this design freedom and you design your part differently. You’re no longer having all this waste by machining it all out. You can actually just deposit what you need. So it’s a thought process. So it’s really asset management is really disrupting the way we think. And I’ve learned that the gangster with 3d printing most, most customer says that can you make this part adapt done subtractive level the last two decades? Can you do that? additively? Well, it’s it’s, it’s a new technology is a new way, you’re not even leveraging all the benefits that come with a dude on nonlinear confined by all these settings for subtractive. And layer by layer, you can do organic shapes, you can curve actually, to the biggest contrast is I predict a future with additive manufacturing, that in your room, you look around all the products, you see they have edges for additive, your home your TV screen, it will have curve, a particular future where everything designed being used, they will no longer be edges, because you have that design freedom. And now you can make to 3d printing organic shapes. So it will Yeah, the future will be more beautiful. When there are no edges. That’s why you see beautiful, beautiful cars. It’s not like a he evolves above what you saw back in the 80s. Remember that bad and all that now is beautiful curve where there’s no interest at all, especially not on a Tesla,

Aaron Moncur 41:14
that that’s a great way to put it, the future will be more beautiful. I love that. And I remember the other question I was going to ask at a Rivo. I think if I understand correctly, you can do small volume. I mean one off to off printed parts there is really, truly a 3d printing service bureau where just like proto labs, I could send a part and said, You know, I’d like to get this printed, and I get a quote back and I get it printed. I don’t know, a week later, something like that.

Tuan Tranpham 41:42
Yes, that that has been what everyone has done all this time. But what I’ve done differently now is if you that’s how you get started parts manufacturing, so but you now also have the option to bring it in house if you want to. So that’s why we announced we going to build the largest composite print farm. We’re going to start with 12 Aqua printers of ours to enable and our technology to be used for bike frames for aerospace for automotive industry, where they don’t need to own the equipment, we will do it for them. So we are like Stratasys Direct Manufacturing red eye proto labs, we are service provider, but you can grow with us you can you never need to buy any equipment. But should you want to you have the option to buy it later on. If you want to do secret stuff and you don’t want your CAD file to leave your building, you have them have the option to purchase. So we start with this starting this Christmas. We’ll start with a dozen awkward pinches. We have chosen the location outside of her Chi Minh City, which used to be called Saigon where I was born. We’re going to start with 12 point we’re going to grow that to 120 and beyond. So there will be all the parts you need not only for the parts being printed, 3d printed, but also if you need a sanding machining, assembly painting, we will offer beyond just reappointing and there are a lot of affordable skills or talent pool in Vietnam is a good alternative to China and Taiwan. So both the CEO and i SONNY Wu and I said who was also the founder of misfit wearables that was acquired by a fossil watch cool for 260 million. We have an unfair advantage since the both Sonny and I will both be enemies.

Aaron Moncur 43:49
Unstoppable. So does that mean that customers or companies can purchase one of the 3d printing machines that areevo manufactures? Yeah, if

Tuan Tranpham 43:59
they want to late on but we’ll start doing whatever you need 1000 bike frame 10,000 100,000 So we have the aspiration of think of Amazon AWS storage in the cloud, you don’t care where those servers are based, how they maintain what kind of security you just pay Storage on Demand. So the river manufacturing as a service is really capacity on demand. You tell us what you need and we will allocate resources according to your needs. So if you have the bike design that you have five different bike design and you one is not doing so well. You can switch it overnight and reduce your capacity and volume. And we will adjust accordingly. So you no longer have the it’s kind of like you see how we have all these ride sharing Uber or Airbnb. There will be a future that is happening where you just buy you only need the parts where we Move all the concerns of getting upgraded site facilities site proving you don’t have to worry about the equipment, we can take care of all this for you, and you just pay for capacity. But at certain point, when you have high enough volume, you might want to internalize it and to maximize it. So you always have that option. Somewhere it

Aaron Moncur 45:19
sounds like it sounds like a contract manufacturing facility that is specific to this, this new 3d this truly 3d printing technology and then you mentioned that you’ll be adding more traditional processes as well. That sounds very interesting. And no tooling right? If you want to make a change to your production design, you don’t have to make a tooling change it’s because it’s it’s additive not subtractive

Tuan Tranpham 45:44
Yeah, it will be the largest composite print farm service service provider in the world for composites

Aaron Moncur 45:52
and what kind of parts are a good fit for this technology I mean, if I’m if I have a little plastic injection molded housing is that a good fit or are these more like larger things like like you know air foils, and an airplane and bicycle frames?

Tuan Tranpham 46:08
Sure. And so we we have applications ranging over 10 different verticals from maybe give you an idea from volume from a baseball to a bike frame. So as you if I give you the knowledge that a filament is less than three mm 2.8 If you have that filament is this tennis wall, the faster you can go over a big part from a tennis racket to pipe frame, there are more advantages in terms of use our technology. So we will probably justify the return on investment faster by medium to large part, but it ranges from aerospace fuselage component to non structural automotive part to delivery drones. So basically, when metal is too expensive, or too heavy, or too corrosive, you will move that over to composite even certain construction developer for building our hotels and offices. The cement and metal used for the reinforcement, the carbon fiber will be much lighter, and you can put it on demand on site. And it’s not corrosive. So we are exploring many different verticals. But I will say for medium to large sizes, is going to be a sweet spot from volume from 1000s to 10s of 1000. But not millions. When you get to millions, maybe it makes more sense to use traditional available processes unless you have a design that cannot be printed any other way than additive.

Aaron Moncur 47:56
Okay, that makes sense. Well, Tuan, thank you so much for for sharing all this. It’s been fascinating listening to your your history and all of the expertise you bring about the 3d printing field. If people want to get a hold of you what’s what’s the best way for them to do that.

Tuan Tranpham 48:14
And if they look up Tuan Tranpham on LinkedIn, that is my main media where I usually share five cool article or posting stories about 3d printing every day for the last 13 years. So LinkedIn will be the best way.

Aaron Moncur 48:30
Terrific. All right. Well, thank you so much for being on the show.

Tuan Tranpham 48:33
Thanks for having me. Have a great day.

Aaron Moncur 48:38
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please leave us a positive review. It really helps other people find the show. To learn how your engineering team can leverage our team’s expertise in developing turnkey custom test fixtures, automated equipment and product design, visit us at test fixture design.com Thanks for listening

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