Daniel Lazier | How to Make Super Strong Parts Fast & Inexpensively – Markforged
Who is Daniel Lazier?
Daniel Lazier is a hands-on problem solver with a background in mechanical engineering as well as product development. These days, however, Daniel spends his time as product marketing manager at Markforged where they make industrial strength 3D printed parts made of Nylon, carbon fiber, and metal.
EXPAND TO VIEW EPISODE TRANSCRIPTION
parts, print, forged, customers, engineers, mark, printers, fiber, machines, built, additive manufacturing, kinds, software, material, eiger, point, called, onyx, super, generally
Presenter, Aaron Moncur, Daniel Lazier
Hi everyone, we’ve set up this being an engineer podcast as an industry knowledge repository, if you will, we hope it’ll be a tool where engineers can learn about and connect with other companies technologies, people, resources and opportunities. So make some connections and enjoy the show.
Daniel Lazier 00:18
What I found was actually the reverse of that the more authentic and the more connected you can be to how customers use your product. Really, the better and more effective you could be at relaying a marketing message.
Aaron Moncur 00:43
Hello, and welcome to the being an engineer podcast. We’re speaking with Daniel Lazear today who is a hands on Problem Solver with a background in mechanical engineering. These days, however, Daniel spends his time as Product Marketing Manager at Mark forged where they make industrial strength parts made of nylon, carbon, fiber, and metal. Daniel, thanks for joining me on the show today.
Daniel Lazier 01:07
Thanks for having me here.
Aaron Moncur 01:09
Can you share what it was that originally prompted you to go into engineering?
Daniel Lazier 01:17
You know, I was pretty lucky in that I, as a kid, I got exposure to a lot of different kinds of extracurricular activities. And the thing that really kind of hooked me from day one. I think this is probably a similar story to a lot of like blood engineers that that I was colleagues with, both in college and professional life, but it was really robotics, specifically, a feeder into a first team in the form of a Lego robotics team that that first gave me the impression like, Hey, this is a really cool way to apply your math, science. A whole slew of other kinds of problem solving techniques to something that I could physically hold, see, touch, feel and ultimately go go accomplish goals with that. So what from actually pretty early age and in elementary school doing the Lego robotics doing FIRST Robotics and somewhere in there, I got a pretty strong sense of conviction that that my future held engineering in some way, shape or form.
Aaron Moncur 02:23
Yeah, my kids do, or have done FLL FIRST LEGO League. I think that’s what it stands for. That’s
Daniel Lazier 02:29
what it’s called. That’s right. It’s been so long.
Aaron Moncur 02:31
But then in high school, I think it’s it’s it’s different. Right? Maybe what did you call it first robotics league or something like that?
Daniel Lazier 02:39
Yeah. Competition. Okay. But my my high school was was not super prominent on, on on the on the sort of national or global scale, but it was enough to build a robot to go. At the time, the challenge was take these pool inner tubes and pick them up, place them in a certain location. Yeah, that was a super, super neat way to kind of cut your teeth on. Sort of the multiple collaborative disciplines that it takes to go big go make it solve a complex problem. Yeah,
Aaron Moncur 03:13
yeah, I love learning by doing right we, I like to say to my team, that learning by doing is better. Learning by doing is better than learning about doing. And it’s a great opportunity, this FLL I think it’s really cool that the kids have a chance to participate in stuff like that. So you work at Markforged now, and I have to admit, I’m kind of a fanboy of Markforged. I have been for several years now. And, and I’ve mentioned the company on this show, many times, probably people are sick of me talking about it. But too bad because we’re going to be talking talking about Markforged quite a bit today. I’ve been super excited because I am such a fan of the company. And they’ve been excited to hear a little bit more behind the scenes of what goes on at Markforged and how you’re helping engineering teams. So we have two Markforged machines here and we’re using them really truly all the time I pretty much everyday both of them are running. The there’s a material that Markforged makes called called onyx, it’s a nylon material with chopped fart fiber, carbon fiber in it. And those have been like a huge time saver for us and for our customers, especially since a lot of what we do is kind of chunky, blocky, strong parts. We’re not using those printers to make like plastic injection molded prototypes. We’re using the to make tooling and equipment parts, and it’s perfect for that. Maybe you can just take a few minutes and share with the listeners who Mark forged is and and how you help engineers developing hardgoods products.
Daniel Lazier 04:46
Yeah, totally. Thank you for that. So, yeah. Mark forged is really founded on the principle that engineers and designers should really at their fingertips have the capability to make strong functional parts. Really just right at the point Never leave. And that was something that as an engineer, I was like immediately connected to, as someone who were in a formal role, I definitely needed those kinds of parts. So specifically, sort of the the Markforged vision is we can reinvent manufacturing by making these devices with these high strength, material capabilities, all sort of integrated with a really effective software platform that empowers anybody to make anything anywhere. And thereby sort of reinvent manufacturing and our relationship. Really, with with with civilization and the planet as a whole.
Aaron Moncur 05:40
What is the name Mark forged come from? I’ve always wondered about that.
Daniel Lazier 05:44
Yeah, so So our founder, whose name is Greg Mark, the sort of sort of took the took the last part of his name, Mark, and then forged really just to signify while our initial product offering was a carbon fiber printer, trying to train to, to give some sense that this was something more than just a cheap plastic prototype that many were familiar with. And in that specific era of the maturity of the additive manufacturing landscape.
Aaron Moncur 06:18
Okay. So Mark forged has been around for almost a decade now, I think. And I read that the company’s approaching 400 employees and 100 million in revenue, which is super impressive, what are some of the growing pains that the company has had to overcome as it’s scaled up?
Daniel Lazier 06:36
I think I think you’re right now when I when I look at the state of the state with Mark forged, and maybe this is completely true to like, a real growing pain. But we’re finding that like, the next hurdle we really have to have to achieve isn’t so much a technology hurdle as much as it is an adoption hurdle. So that’s to say, when we go out and be customers, we often find that the opportunity to sort of reinvent their workflows for the better is often limited by just just really people. So like many, like many fields right now, I think I think we have a bit of a people problem where, where I think we sort of have this need to accelerate adoption, that really at a really rapid rate, in order to achieve that sort of next level beyond, you know, how do we get from postmark 4g COMM a business that’s 1000 employees, 10,000 employees. That’s, that’s sort of the key to getting to that next phase.
Aaron Moncur 07:39
So when you say adoption, and people, you’re referring more to the people who worked at Mark forged that are pushing this product out there into the world, as opposed to figuring out how to create the right messaging, or provide the right technical solutions for the people out there in the world who will be using the mark forged products.
Daniel Lazier 08:02
I shouldn’t have clarified there. What I was actually referring to is is the Mark forged its internal is certainly component of this, but at a broader level. When we’re talking about adoption, and people, I really, I really feel like manufacturing. So some bigger, bigger universe of all manufacturing companies. I just see a trend, an upcoming trend in additive adoption, that that I think is going to unlock a whole lot of productivity. That’s not so much Mark Forged employees, but more so Markforged users
Aaron Moncur 08:36
Got it. Okay. Can you share one or two unique or particularly interesting or innovative applications that you’ve been able to help engineering teams with using the Markforged product line?
Daniel Lazier 08:50
Sure, yeah, a couple a couple of applications come to mind. One of which was I was working with a local high school Formula SAE team. And they were working on specifically this this bracket, this suspension bracket. And actually actually have a piece of it here somewhere on my desk. Not sure if video is gonna be a component of what we what we showcase here,but
Aaron Moncur 09:18
It’ll just be audio, but you can show me Okay, so
Daniel Lazier 09:21
you can Ooh, and so the fans know, it’s cool. Thank you for that. So this bracket was, was designed specifically with additive manufacturing in mind. And for the folks who are listening, this bracket has these sort of unique pockets built into it. And some might look at that and say, Okay, that’s great for lightweighting. Those, those pockets actually serve a really specific purpose as it relates to mark forged equipment, where they actually defined sort of the pathway where we lay continuous fiber. So I mentioned Mark forged sort of built around the vision of making high strength parts. One of our core competencies is infusing continuous strands of fiber into these plastic parts. So now what you end up with is a component that’s a strongest metal. And moreover, engineers and designers have an unprecedented level of freedom now to define sort of how this part responds to mechanical stresses. So the really cool part about this thing isn’t so much the geometry or that it was 3d printed, the cool thing about it is is how it empowered engineers to define how this part would actually perform, when when it was implemented in practice. So that’s, that’s one really cool one that stands out. The next one that will sort of give us an application, of course, I can’t talk about the customer, the customer by name. But this is one case, where the innovation wasn’t so much the part or how it was made, but more so where it was made. So this was a case where this customer had a bunch of service centers or service depots, where they maintained industrial equipment. And they have these things, you know, all over the planet, virtually every continent, I think they were operating in like 30 countries plus, with hundreds of locations. And what they ended up doing with with the technology is actually locating a printer, not only at the place where they develop tooling and spare parts, but they also put printers in locations where those parts were needed. And what they found was that it was actually better for the business to be able to just print the parts at the point of need on demand, as opposed to printing them in one location and shipping them out elsewhere. So they sort of digitized in that sense their entire supply chain from top to bottom by by simply placing the fabrication equipment which used to be prohibitive, because you know, how hard is it to operate a CNC mill and make those high strength parts in a service centers, it’s generally not not available to those guys services. But now that we’ve got these printers, you’ve got wonder they’re about the size of a microwave. And all you need to run them is is a little spool of onyx, and you’re good to go. So that that comes to mind is one of the more innovative use cases when it comes to our print systems. Yeah, I
Aaron Moncur 12:21
can speak to the benefits of that one myself, we have a customer who has a few of these Markforged machines as well. And they engage with us to develop custom equipment for them. And we deliver the equipment turnkey, ready to go. But over time they this has happened, they’ve had some very minor design changes that they’ve wanted to implement. And so now they just tell us, okay, we want to change this part a little bit. And we’ll update the design. And we’ll just send them the file and they print it out right there and put it into the machine. And it’s super easy. You know, it’s fast, it’s cheap for them and requires less time on our part. We’re always rushing to the next project anyway. So that’s helpful. And that’s been another really useful application for the machine.
Daniel Lazier 13:06
Wow. So just so I understand you’re actually transitioning, no longer transitioning physical parts between your business and customers business, you’re actually transitioning the digital file is that do I understand that correctly?
Aaron Moncur 13:18
With this particular customer? That’s That’s right. Yeah.
Daniel Lazier 13:21
Cool. Cool. Yeah. That’s super cool.
Aaron Moncur 13:24
Yeah. Another thing that’s super cool is I just as I was interviewing, preparing for this interview, doing some research I learned about Mark forges new precise PLA material, which I had not heard of before. And I was super excited to read about this. It looks like it’s roughly a third the cost of the Onyx material. And I think it was like twice as fast the print times about twice as fast as Onyx. And just a really attractive solution for teams like mine that are doing a lot of a lot of prototype 3d printing, other than the strength, of course, are there any limitations that we should be aware of? For example, maybe we can’t print parts that are quite as big or maybe the accuracy isn’t good or, or anything like that, that comes to mind?
Daniel Lazier 14:13
Yeah, not so much in the way of limitations. More just sort of the intent with precise PLA was was really built around giving engineers and designers the capability to quickly and affordably iterate without burning the more valuable Onyx to get to get the part when and where it’s needed. And yeah, what we’re finding is customers are getting a lot of value out of just just not not having to worry so much about that. We also find it to be a really nice companion to Onyx. Just being able to you know add a splash of color to designs we’ve been seeing customers use it just as sort of like a job aid to give operators the ability to basically say okay, yellow means it’s, it’s the 10 millimeter insert red means it’s the 12 millimeter insert. So kind of like a color coded Poka Yoke there.
Aaron Moncur 15:06
Yeah, yeah, I love it. What what kinds of engineering teams are Markforged machines especially well suited to? And I guess conversely, what what kinds of engineering teams or the mark Ford machine’s not a really good fit for?
Daniel Lazier 15:24
Yet, it’s interesting, I think we have a reputation for being, you know, a very hardline industrial company. And I hate to call that a fallacy, but I think I think I think we, we probably, I think we probably solve more problems more simply than people give us credit for. And what I mean by that is, you know, I think when people hear continuous fiber reinforcement, high strength, mental strength industrial parts, I think they often think, wow, that seems super advanced, it might take me a while to learn those capabilities. What you find is, is it’s actually the contrary, you know, there’s no, no sort of nozzle temperatures or extrusion rates or anything like that, that you have to do any specific training for in order to get the most out of the system. Really, the the learning curve has everything to do with application identification, as well as some design strategies. So in that sense, back to your question of, you know, who is this thing for, I would really say anyone who builds physical products, generally ought to consider additive manufacturing as a category. And I think within that category, start to identify what kinds of what kinds of parts assemblies and products would benefit from, whether it be high strength in the form of printed continuous fiber hardness in the form of 3d printed metal, which we haven’t talked about a whole lot. But that’s also something we do. Or simply, if it’s just design validation, what our customers are telling us is, hey, this system that was really well designed for this one thing, which is carbon fiber also happens to do this, this concept validation and prototyping material in the form of precise PLA really, really well as well. And that really simplifies my workflow. So kind of kind of a roundabout answer, but I suppose what I’m really saying is Markforged is for everybody.
Aaron Moncur 17:26
Yeah, that’s a total answer,
Daniel Lazier 17:29
though, yeah. But I mean, maybe to give you a practical example, putting my money where my mouth is, I have my high strength brackets, and, you know, welding fixtures and all kinds of stuff that I’m flashing in front of the camera making for a decidedly bad Radio, I’m sure. But I also have, you know, I’m in the process of building this tractor for my nephew’s fourth birthday is coming up. So I’m kind of running the gamut of all kinds of different applications, from sort of Tinker maker all the way up to, you know, solving global supply chain problems when I’m working with customers. Yeah.
Aaron Moncur 18:04
Something I’m curious about, I’d love to hear your take on this, I have found that the Markforged material, or machines are maybe not the best solution for thin walled parts. So exact, for example, for printing, like a plastic injection molded parts, that’s has maybe some fairly organic surfaces less of curvature, and is, you know, thin wall 70,000 80,000, something like that. We have other printers that we use for that SLA printers that seemed to be a good solution. The Markforged machines tend to be really, really good when you’re printing, blocky, chunky, I guess machined type parts is have you found that to be generally true, or are we just using them in the wrong way and they’ll work great for thin walled parts as well if we set it up, right.
Daniel Lazier 18:53
You know, so So first of all bears mentioning I spent my first three years at Markforged as an application engineer. So those are exactly the kind of problems I still have cut my teeth on. So yeah, definitely implore you to send a couple design files over we can we can definitely hash it out. But yeah, I would say to your point as a as a as a category fff style printers, which stands for fused filament fabrication, which is which is the technology Markforged is generally based off of where I’m drawing plastic from a spool and extruding it out of a hot nozzle. And building apart layer by layer as such. The the level of feature detail is definitely predicated on the on the basis of, of, of the diameter of the nozzle. So we find within our category, we generally achieve pretty darn good surface finish and feature detail. I think relative to other men, additive manufacturing techniques, like you mentioned, SLA stereo lithography, where I’m using Laser to effectively polymerize a vat of resin. I generally point customers to that solution if all they’re looking for is something that doesn’t need to hold up to a whole bunch of a whole bunch of wear and tear, but needs that excellent feature detail. So that trade off between mechanical properties and feature detail. I think it’s fair to say there’s nothing in the desktop range at least that gives you the best of both worlds in that sense. But, but I think you’re talking a little bit about like best practices and to our earlier conversation about adoption, one of the things that we generally find, for just just capturing really good feature detail, I’ve got, again, breaking the rules of radio here. But that showed you like kind of another little figure here I got, I got a baby Yoda. With really good detail, you can kind of see, yeah, that looks excellent. That detail on his shoulder. But one of the little tricks of the trade that I’ll pass along to you here is oftentimes just playing around with the orientation and cork and stuff over at a 45 degree angle relative to the build plane can often can often yield very, very positive results just by just by sort of changing the resolute the effective resolution at which it’s building your part.
Aaron Moncur 21:25
Okay, great pro tip. All right. I’ll take just a couple second break here and share with the listeners that Team pipeline.us is where you can learn more about how we help medical device and other product engineering or manufacturing teams develop turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines to characterize inspect, assemble, manufacture and perform verification testing on your devices. We’re speaking with Daniel Lozier today. So Daniel, you had mentioned earlier that some people might be a little bit afraid of or hesitant to get into this space because they hear continuous fiber carbon fiber, that’s going to be tricky. How do I know what nozzle temperature to use and feed settings and all this stuff? And one thing that I found is that the software that comes with Markforged is which is called Eiger is super easy to use and makes the whole process really very easy. I think, you know, an hour or two of basic training is all anyone needs to to really get started on this platform. What What are a few highlights that you can share with the listeners about the the Eiger software and how it makes printing robust parts? So easy?
Daniel Lazier 22:42
Yeah, I think I think the best best best part of Iger is something you as a user never ever see. Which is just the the 10s of 1000s of hours that our engineering team took to literally and maniacally test the widest range of geometries across the widest set of parameters from extrusion profiles to temperatures to every every setting or parameter that you can imagine going into a successful 3d printed part. I think what a lot of our user users tell us is, hey, this is the best quality 3d printer I’ve ever had. And I never had to change a setting when with respect to nozzles or temperatures or extrusion rates, that sort of that sort of, if I were to point to one thing, that’s the secret sauce, that would be it, just the level of detail that went into fine tuning the setting so that you as a user don’t have to. And that sort of that sort of the counterpoint to this perception, I think of of approachability with with additive manufacturing. I think the next thing I’ll point out is just sort of how how Iger manages to balance feature heaviness with with with ease of use. So what I mean by that is, you know, we have this crazy capability to you know, literally put continuous fiber in any axis on any any plane. We want. You know, mechanical engineer generally doesn’t think about software, when they’re thinking about tools. But I think again, our consciousness we think, Oh, man, is this gonna take me a year to learn? It took me I don’t know how long to get good at SolidWorks from the day it was introduced to me at college to the time I was, I was using it as a professional engineer. But I think I think the team is has accomplished a really, really neat trick, which is to say, you know, when I want to reinforce this part with continuous fiber they’ve intuitive some assumptions about how that part is, is going to be used in the form of how, how fiber is going to go into this part. So So when introducing can use fiber, you’re effectively choosing between two schemes. One is, we call it concentric fiber, I’m tracing the outside of the part and the inside pockets. The other is isotropic, where I’m laying up continuous plies of carbon fiber going at zero degrees, 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 135 degrees. So that’s effectively what laminate sheets are made of these isotropic planes of fiber. So in that sense, when I use Eiger, I generally find that that I’m clicking a couple buttons, and then getting a part that is extremely high performance, and all built automatically, with the kind of settings that I need to accomplish the task at hand. So I think that’s that’s sort of category number two, and two, sort of punctuate that the category number three, which has less to do about the part and again, has more to do with with how people use it. But I think just just relative to some of the other, zoom out from just 3d printing, and just think about other manufacturing equipment I’ve used, you all actually point to the example you gave me, which is you transitioned parts digitally, from from your environment to your customers environment. There’s companies doing stuff like that actually, in the cloud. So you know, as opposed to like, emailing files back and forth, using the Eiger platform to actually actually send files back and forth. And I think that’s really where, really where Iger stands out above, you’re not just 3d printing equipment, but just manufacturing equipment as a whole, where this is all digital approach. I mean, I used to wrack my brain and, you know, want to put my fist through my computer screen, sometimes working with vendors, across a global supply chain, trying to get trying to figure out what one specific part I needed. And it was all through spreadsheet, ministry, spreadsheets, and bills of materials and all kinds of stuff like that, I think I think it’s as we get closer and closer to being able to encompass more and more of the manufacturing value chain, the daily life of the engineering is gonna get better, largely as a function of, of how they interact with software, in a manufacturing environment. And I think that’s sort of where to be that third point is probably the most profound in terms of in terms of what’s great about the software.
Aaron Moncur 27:44
Yeah, I have a couple of points to make on that. One is not so much the software, but you you mentioned how robust the printer is. And I remember, SLA has gotten better for sure over the years. But you know, as soon as maybe five, six years ago, we had some SLA printers, and it would drive me crazy, the rate at which parts would fail, you’d put a part in a night and come back in the next morning and part failure. And especially with SLA, you’ve got this goopy resin you have to deal with and clean up and strain out all the little bits that got stuck in there when the print failed. And it was just such a pain and I hated dealing with that. With the Markforged machines, I can honestly say that we have had very, very few failures. It’s such a robust platform, and I’ve been happily surprised at how consistently it delivers just really great parts with with very low maintenance, you just push the easy button, you know, and and you get your parts. So that’s one thing. The other thing on the software is because the the engineers and Markforged have made the software so easy to use. There are some limitations as far as the degree to which one can customize how the parts are laid out and how the fibers is placed in there. And originally I thought that that might be a drawback, but honestly, I’ve found that if at this point that I don’t even care it’s I don’t need to customize it beyond what the software does for me because it does such a good job.
Daniel Lazier 29:24
Yeah, and it’s funny we think about these attributes like customizability quality repeatability entry note I’ll say hand up as a mechanical engineer, when I used to think about the tools I use to do my job. It probably wasn’t that often that I would point to those things as a software thing per se. But really that is what it what it is. It’s code that rests in the back in the background. That sort of takes my inputs and makes a part out of those inputs and it’s all driven and it will continue to be increasingly driven by software over time.
Aaron Moncur 30:05
Yeah, yeah. Well, something else that we’ve been really impressed with on the Markforged machine, the the Onyx material in particular is the the surface finish, especially on on sidewalls, you, you almost can’t even see the layer lines. And it depends a little on what what resolution that you’re using, but that, in the right light, it almost looks similar to a textured injection molded part. Other FDM printers that we’ve used very clearly show the layer lines and cosmetically, it just doesn’t look as good. But the Markforged the Onyx material looks spectacular. And I wondered how, what is this, this black magic trickery that Markforged is using to make the surface finish look so good?
Daniel Lazier 30:53
Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely intentional. There’s some work that went into that. The it, I probably call it a combination of a few different factors. One of which is acute, and specific to the materials and a few of which are general. So so the cute one, which which we’re starting to see more of more of in the world has to do with the material formulation itself, to our specific strategy of taking, which we invented, we took nylon pellets and students and some chopped carbon fiber effectively carbon fiber dust. And what did that do for us what that did was, it made it such that when we extruded that nozzle, and it went from, you know, well in excess of 200 Celsius down to room temperature, it made it really stable geometrically across that really, really wide range of materials. So specifically, the characteristic we’re interested in there is the coefficient of thermal expansion. So that chopped fiber certainly contributes to a greater stability. But we didn’t stop there, right, as you know, we will be also have a print bed, which is which is made of a thermally compatible material, which not only contributes to the, to a really high rate of success with with printing, I think, when we did a Pareto breakdown of like our first first prototype 3d printer, we found like 80% of print failures occurred in the first layer. I don’t know if your experience is a anywhere close to that using other other 3d print systems. But that was our experience working with with with the, like other 3d printers and early prototypes. So we found, hey, if you could, if you could add some compatibility thermally between the material the print pen and material printing with that’s gonna go a whole lot better for you is from a print process perspective. And that also lends to stability from the very base of the print, which the first layer actually has a pretty strong bearing on how the rest of the print comes out. And then the other thing that I’ll sort of point out is for those who haven’t seen our systems, there’s this there’s this huge chunk of aluminum, that basically the entire system, the gantry itself, it’s all it’s all, it’s all based off of this ultra rigid hunk of aluminum, which wasn’t necessarily cheap for us to put into the printer. But it was we found it was so important to add rigidity to the print platform itself, that it was worthwhile to have this this this high stiffness gantry system. So that the the little micro torques induced when when I when I fire on the belt drive system, that cause other other systems to kind of kind of twist like a potato chip, thereby influencing where that bead of plastic is actually going. We found that that helps a lot with our with our overall accuracy. And by extension, the print quality. So just when when I deposit a bead of plastic on a previous one, how closely did that line those up? The thing that makes these walls look nearly injection molded is the fact that we’re very, very, very, very precise when we when we lay that next beat down.
Aaron Moncur 34:16
Yeah, that’s great. I’m going to take a little departure from Mark forge at the company and talk to you a little bit about marketing right now you are in marketing. How did you make that transition from being a mechanical design engineer into marketing? What What was it that made you think? I think that would be that’d be a cool thing to try out?
Daniel Lazier 34:34
Yeah, totally, totally. And hopefully your listeners are or that we some of them find find something relatable about this journey, but my journey, at least at Mark Ward So before coming to mark wars I was I was pretty straight ahead product engineer. I was developing little GPS sensors for a company that eventually got sold to rim which was bought by Amazon So that was that was a point where I was first exposed to 3d printing primarily in a prototyping capacity. And I sort of knew at that point that that’s what where I wanted to take my career next. So what I ended up finding was was this awesome opportunity to come on at Markforged as an Application Engineer, which is sort of like that first step, going from like, becoming like, I almost joke, it’s like going from like an inside cat to an outside cat, where I start to, I start to get to see a whole lot of a whole lot of cases of customers actually using the technology, I still maintain, that’s probably about the most fun you could have with a mechanical engineering degree, being an application engineer and a 3d printing company. Because what that really was, was like, a consistent, consistently revolving game of how it’s made. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched that show how it’s made, but I used to just like, you know, glued to the TV for three hours straight watching that stuff. So that’s kind of what my life was like. And that role was really specifically us, you know, how did that transition to marketing, it was, in some sense, kind of like a sales role. But in a really authentic way, where I’m not trying to sell you equipment you don’t need it’s, it’s very, you know, I, I come with a very strong sense of conviction that this is, this is a better way to make your product. And luckily, you know, when I can, when I can take this part, say, Hey, you were making this thing for $1,500, I just printed it for 50. And it caught the cost, it takes less time to build it safer for your employees. That was a really fun way to connect with customers. And I’ve made lifelong friends with some of those customers as a result. So as as, as the stakes got sort of bigger and bigger, the company got higher profile. And we started, we started working with with sort of bigger customers with larger implementation needs. The role sort of evolved into really sort of sort of like, a presentation kind of role where we’re talking, we’re talking to executives at large businesses, saying, Hey, here’s, here’s my recommendation for how you should implement our technology. And as much as I resisted it, my mentors, my superiors, my bosses, were all telling me like, Hey, dude, that’s what you’re doing, there’s actually marketing. And I looked at that, and said, Oh, that’s not what I want to do. And I think there was that sort of built on a fallacy that marketing was, was was intentionally deceptive, or, or, or something disconnected from how customers actually use our technology, what I found was actually the reverse of that to be true, which is like, the more authentic and the more connected, you could be to how customers use your product. Really, the better and more effective, you could be at relaying a marketing message, where, you know, the technical attributes we were just talking about about the system are all true. And they all they all relate to why someone ought to ought to consider buying your equipment. So it took me a while, really, I must admit, to sort of release myself from this constraint that, that we shouldn’t boast so much about our systems and how great we are, and actually achieve a level of comfort doing that. But I think once I kind of got over that hurdle, it really became a really cool way to extend my career to, you know, more, more of a strategic role that had had less to do with, you know, one by one, educating customers on what we do great, and sort of using a megaphone to do that at a much broader scale. So in that sense, I think it’s been a super, super cool journey. And Mark for certainly one is not intended or predict. But oftentimes, the best opportunity sort of come come that way.
Aaron Moncur 38:55
Very cool. For engineers out there who might be thinking to themselves right now, you know, that sounds kind of fun, this this whole marketing thing, I might like to dip my toe in the dark side myself and see what I can make of this. What What kind of considerations should they keep in mind when trying to decide one way or the other?
Daniel Lazier 39:18
I’ll think on that, and I’ll stole a little bit by by saying, I think I think the journey that I took was was really the the journey that I needed to convince myself in in sort of growth, this I mentioned this, like sense of conviction I had that we were selling customers the right product at the right time. And we were doing all that authentically. So I think there’s like there’s like internal factors and externality. So I mean, hopefully, we’re all working for companies that make make our customers better off when we’re done doing business. But I think that’s certainly a litmus test that I think engineers specifically would be miserable if they were trying to market in a role that If that weren’t true, that makes sense. I think I think the other factor one ought to consider. And I think, I think we often times we oftentimes sell ourselves short as mechanical engineers in our ability to present and communicate and, and sort of articulate ideas to a broader set of people, not just not just not just other engineers, what I find is there’s, there’s a very healthy subset of engineers that are actually excellent communicators. And I think those people in particular ought to really, really think about how they could take what they do. And, and sort of, you know, in my field, I mentioned at the very beginning of this call, you know, are at the beginning of this podcast, our mandate as a company really ought to be, how do we accelerate adoption. And really, if I trace my career from, from the start of Mark towards to where I’m at now, which has been about a five year journey, I really feel like we’re doing more and more of that, the more the further I go down, and now this marking role. If I think about every activity I do, every piece of content I make every thing I do like today, we’re on this podcast talking about it. Really, I think every day, it’s sort of advancing the ball getting better and better and accelerating adoption. And I think there’s something kind of neat about that. Yeah,
Aaron Moncur 41:33
yeah, for sure. Well, just one or two more questions, and then we’ll we’ll wrap up here, what is in the what’s in store for the future of Markforged? What can we look forward to in the next, you know, two to three years and beyond?
Daniel Lazier 41:47
Yeah, I think there’s so much exciting stuff that has happened in the last year. And I think some ways, the past in some ways predict the present. But I would, I would expect to see a whole lot more in the way of the way of how software is used. And part of that is likely to come from advancements from companies like Markforged. And some of our some of our partners companies we partnered with, we just acquired a company called called Teton simulation, which sort of specializes in in in modeling how 3d printed parts and respond stresses, that’s going to be a great partner technology, that that, again, will be one more step toward accelerating adoption. In some more scrutinized areas, like aerospace. But yeah, I think I think just just sort of like continually advancing the ball with respect to with respect to software. You know, I think I think just the kind of things that already make the system great the availability of of the materials, it that that solve a bunch of different problems, the quality, the kind of optionality you have in Eiger, I would expect in the next two, three years, all of those things to continually improve, you know, we release updates to our systems on a I mean, your user, you probably you probably print more than I do, but I find practically every time I log into Eiger, there’s a new update waiting for me to try. And I think that’s, that’s, that’s sort of the exciting thing that can’t quite put your finger on what exactly that is, but we know it’s going to it’s going to make your your your printing process a whole lot smoother.
Aaron Moncur 43:31
That’s another great thing about Eiger. It’s cloud based software. So there’s nothing to install and update an update and update. It’s all just updated every time you go in automatically, which has been super nice and helpful. Yeah, totally. All right. Well, Daniel, thank you so much for your time today. How can people get in touch with you?
Daniel Lazier 43:52
Yeah, so again, I work at Markforged. And, you know, we love talking to prospects and customers. You know, we we have a whole lot of forms and chats, and all kinds of things you can reach out for us at the website. You know, I sit on the marketing team, so messages that go to Marketing at Mark forged.com, I generally get a look at those. So, so if you have questions or want to reference this podcast and say, Hey, I got a question about something Daniel said on the podcast. That’d be a great, great avenue to do. So.
Aaron Moncur 44:26
Terrific. Great. Well, anything else that we should cover before we end?
Daniel Lazier 44:31
No, it’s a pleasure talking to you and learn a little bit more about what you do with our printers and super fun talking about it.
Aaron Moncur 44:37
Likewise, I love talking about manufacturing.
Daniel Lazier 44:40
Aaron Moncur 44:41
All right, Daniel. Thanks so much. Really appreciate your time.
Daniel Lazier 44:43
All right. Thanks, Aaron. Have a great day.
Aaron Moncur 44:49
I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s X routine developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening
We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Being an Engineer Podcast.
Help us rank as the #1 engineering podcast on Apple and Spotify by leaving a review for us.
You can find us under the category: mechanical engineering podcast on Apple Podcasts.
Being an Engineer podcast is a go-to resource and podcast for engineering students on Spotify, too.
Aaron Moncur and Rafael Testai love hearing from their listeners, so feel free to email us, connect on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and subscribe on Apple Podcast and Spotify!
About Being An Engineer
The Being an Engineer podcast is a repository for industry knowledge and a tool through which engineers learn about and connect with relevant companies, technologies, people resources, and opportunities. We feature successful mechanical engineers and interview engineers who are passionate about their work and who made a great impact on the engineering community.
The Being An Engineer podcast is brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical & other device engineering teams who need turnkey equipment such as cycle test machines, custom test fixtures, automation equipment, assembly jigs, inspection stations and more. You can find us on the web at www.teampipeline.us
You’ve read this far! Therefore, it’s time to turn your headphones up and listen now to this episode to learn all these. Don’t forget to tell your friends who might like this too!