Greg Paulsen | The Service & Hospitality Industry, HP 3D Printing, & Xometry

 In Being an Engineer Podcast

Greg Paulsen

Greg Paulsen tells us about his eclectic background as he tries to “figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.” He started off with an education in the service and hospitality industry. Then, he coupled it with a degree in science and technology. Finally, he topped his education off with a minor in Chinese business studies.

Greg, however, successfully navigated his way through government intelligence research, wineries, and manufacturing, ultimately landing at Xometry where he is the Director of Application Engineering.

Check out Xometry’s 3D printing service and plastic injection molding service to learn more.


sls, parts, materials, manufacturing, business, building, tolerances, processes, technologies, engineer, machines, ceramic, manufacturers, people, labs, cad, proto, surface, interested, greg
Aaron Moncur, Greg Paulsen

Aaron Moncur 00:13
Welcome to the being an engineer podcast. Our guest today is Greg Paulsen, who is currently director of application engineering at xometry. That’s XOMETRY xometry. But also has a very interesting background before his current role, which we will get into. Greg has been involved with 3d printing in particular for many years and frequently speaks as an expert on the topic. He, he joined xometry, just a year after it was founded and has been a key member in building the company into the business. It is today. So Greg, with that, welcome to the show.

Greg Paulsen 00:49
That’s flattering. Thank you. Happy to be here.

Aaron Moncur 00:52
All right. So we’re gonna get into before we dive into xometry, we’re going to talk a little bit about your background. And it is eclectic, would that be an accurate word to use to describe your background eclectic?

Greg Paulsen 01:08
I don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up. I am very happy to be an expert journalist. Yeah.

Aaron Moncur 01:15
Okay. All right. So I’m going to just read through a few things that I learned about your background and try not to smile too much as I do this. And then I’m going to ask you a question about it. And it’s going to be a long question for me to get there. So feel free to take your time as you answer as well. Okay. All right. So you have degrees in hospitality and tourism, integrated science and technology, and a minor in Chinese business studies, which, if I stop there, that would be interesting enough as it is, but But wait, there’s more. Okay, so one of your first jobs was as a sales manager at a winery and vineyard after the winery, you went back to university if I’ve had my timeline, correct. First, as a research analyst, where you review declassified intelligence reports to analyze US intelligence failures, wow. And then as a graduate assistant, where you designed and created prototypes for various grants predominantly within the 3d printing space, and then you went back to yet another vineyard as a wine educator, managing staff and special events. Okay, so talk about a collected help me understand what what is going on here. This is craziness.

Greg Paulsen 02:35
So a lot of this is happening in parallel, right? So think about this, I had a cool college job where I worked at wineries is is what’s really good there. And it’s helped me i It is honestly helped me throughout my entire career. Because I think anybody who has experience in a service industry, regardless of your career, it makes you a better communicator, usually more patient, you’re dealing with so many different people and different personalities, like I was the guy that did the wine tasting. And so you go up to the winery, and you go in, and you want to try like, you know, the eight wines, I’d be the person talking to you about that. And you learn to kind of read, you know, read the room, understand where they’re going, Look work on their pace, and it is significantly helped of, you know, my career side, especially working for many businesses and many business opportunities that have really been in that initial startup stage, where no matter what role you are, you’re a salesperson, like you know, you’ve because you’re not a business if you can’t sell the product. And so I’ll say, you know, I really enjoy that I still have the stairs, I have Pollock wines in my cabinet, I go back there, you know, several times a year to restock. So it’s a it’s part of my life, but it was my weekend. So that was 20 hours every weekend for about four years or so between college and grad school

Aaron Moncur 03:56
20 hours every weekend. So like yeah, 10 hours a day?

Greg Paulsen 04:00
give or take. Yeah,

Aaron Moncur 04:00
it was a weekend.

Greg Paulsen 04:02
Yes. But it was a it’s a it’s a fun job right you know, it’s one of those jobs where when you go home you’re not taking it home with you, you know, it’s so you could go and study your butt off at school and then have this as completely departed mentally. Even if it sounds like a lot it’s it’s it’s something that you could just compartmentalize and have, you know, have that and you get some income for you know, while you’re at school. But yeah, I did study undergraduate business. And I even in that, I mean, I’m sure you guys have been called to him and started off saying, Hey, I know exactly what I want to do. But even that I started off in various different disciplines and and I ended up really enjoying business. And so Chase Massey University has a great BBA program there. And they have a very integrated program where you try different disciplines and you know, sail or is like from the marketing side from the finance side, from management side, and I ended up really liking these professors, they just happen to teach at the HTM program. So that’s Hospitality Tourism Management. So I started taking their classes. And the first 60 credits of this undergraduate, by the way, are just business classes, then like you, then you have your focus, which is the which is the subject, whether it’s like I said, whether it’s finance or whatever it is gonna be. And I ended up taking these Hospitality Tourism classes. And that’s my, that’s my undergrad and I, I also really enjoyed Chinese business, I did a study abroad and spent three months in, in China and worked on Chinese business study, minor there. And fastening, like I said, I like stuff, you know, I’m My motto is constantly interested. So like, you know, like a person is like, ooh, shiny object. I mean, that’s me, and I just really enjoy it. Yeah,

Aaron Moncur 05:58
I love it. I love it. What were you like, as a kid? Was it the same? Where you’re just bouncing back and forth from one hobby to the next? The next to the next?

Greg Paulsen 06:07
Somewhere? Yeah, I think I’m really, you know, I’m just always been very interested in things, how and how things work. So regardless of the task at hand, I usually am trying to think about the mechanisms that make it happen. And, and so that’s been, you know, big motivation for me. But yeah, as a kid, I was very interested, I was actually a scout, I’m an Eagle Scout. So I was involved with that did a lot of camping, hiking, outdoors activities. And I will also say this, what’s really interesting is a we’re gonna go into this, I’m in a highly technical engineering field down. But I was introduced to drafting and design and engineering in my junior and senior year of high school. So that was around 2000 2002. Area era. And I learned, we there’s a class where you couldn’t you couldn’t touch the computer until you did basic drafting, right? So like your eighth inch tall lettering, and you’re on the angle desk and, and your, your ruler to or altijd. And so we we, we had that for for coursework, and then we started to learn at that time, that was Autodesk mechanical desktop, which is the bee’s knees, because it was one of the first ones that you could actually do extrude extrude on well.

Aaron Moncur 07:34
Did you just say the bee’s knees?

Greg Paulsen 07:37
Boy howdy. I did. I love it. But it was it was really, it was a it was one of the first CAD programs because inventor wasn’t out yet. It was the first CAD program that wasn’t just like 2d like AutoCAD, where you’re doing your 2d lines. Although most of it I guess, still basically you at that time, I can basically draw entire drawing with his text commands, like at five over 30, you know, 30 degrees or something that just tell it line to keep on going. But the I did, I was at technology Student Association, I actually did like CAD competitions with that. And I did that for my again, my junior senior year. And was really interested in in fact, I actually won as one of these CAD competitions in the national competition. I was I came in second place. And they and their award because it was down to Richmond, which was where Autodesk was, was like the first, you know, a full copy of audits are of Autodesk Inventor. And I got that. And then I went to college and started studying like, yeah, Biology, Chemistry and Business ultimately, and I didn’t touch CAD programming, until I went into grad school where I happened to, I was working on Integrated Science Technology. And and I was very interested in this big open building down in JMU. Like there’s this a center called Iset, which is integrated science technology. And you kind of looked down in this building, and I saw like every now and then I saw like somebody in the back kind of sifting through piles of white powder, you know, and I’m like, What the heck are they doing? And as I was getting a graduate assistant jet ship there. I was helping out and I was down there and I saw somebody on SolidWorks trying to design something. And again, I hadn’t touched CAD in over four years at this point. And I was like, Can I try? Like I’m like I bet I could get that done in 20 in like 20 minutes and I I went and and I did this it was a I remember it’s very clearly because it was a cooler seat for like if you go into like a baseball game that would you’d sit down on top on top of and it would hold like liquid inside cool and it had little cubby holes to like, throw a six pack inside. So it’s like seat plus six pack holder plus cooler. And so we, you know, did a very quick mock up of that. So we could do that. And I started, I started actually transferring my assistantship, actually down to that that building to the product realization lab where I learned selective laser sintering, which is been like one of my go to additive manufacturing processes. So that was, again, around between, Oh, 709. But that was where it really when I really moved into that additive and engineering manufacturing areas when I started that assistantship there and just kind of snowballed.

Aaron Moncur 10:39
Okay. Okay, so it’s starting to come together that that is just all the cat’s meow there. See, I can I can throw out these terms. Yeah, so very good. Yeah. Tell me about China. What was business? Like in China? How did it differ from business here in the US?

Greg Paulsen 10:54
Yeah. Oh, it’s, it’s very interesting. So Chinese business, one of the things you have to learn is that there’s this is, this is, this is something we talked about kind of rules are like rule based versus relationship based. When I say it’s business, the, in you know, here, if you look at a stack of resumes, you’re going to be looking at the attribute attributes, the application, the, how the person is qualified for that for the work, etc, etc. We look at resume and it says, cousin, or close family friend, it may not have as much weight as it may have in some of these relationship based businesses. So having a good relationship, you know, and, and preexisting trust is very, very important as this is 2006. We were, you know, we were taking Chinese Chinese business. And, and we were learning a lot about that, and like this phrase, Guan chi, right, this, like building, building your relationship with people and like, you know, it’s almost like a level, like your level of Guan chi is relationship with your, with your business partners. And, and so it was very, you know, very enlightening. And, honestly, I really enjoyed the time that I had over there traveling in China. But this is a great experience. And, like, I think, a very relevant minor to add on, you know, xometry, like, you know, fast forward now we’ve, we’ve gone from a domestic organization, where we do on demand manufacturing, with all these different technologies. And we are actually now International, so we have a European branch, and then we have also manufacturing in, in East Asia. And so it’s where we are truly becoming a global organization. And I think it does help to have that worldview, because not the business in different areas is different. And that’s okay. And it’s understanding how to talk how to market and how they have those relationships with your different manufacturers, because they, they’re not all the same. Like, if you try to treat everyone the same, you’re not going to have a very good globalized mindset on how you’re gonna, how you’re gonna grow, expand.

Aaron Moncur 13:12
Yeah. Now, that’s a great point. I’m sure it gave you broaden perspective and just how to treat people or deal with people abroad. It’s interesting that you talk about the relationship aspect. I think, clearly, relationship matters here in the US as well, right? People say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, maybe the difference is, it’s not really advertised here in the US, like you wouldn’t put down Oh, my cousin is the CEO on your resume, right? Like that would feel inappropriate. And I don’t know if you put that on your resume in China, either. But it sounds like it’s just it’s more accepted, maybe or more open the fact that relationships really matter. Whereas here in the US, you know, people are gonna throw nepotism if you start dropping names like that. Yeah, I think

Greg Paulsen 14:03
there’s, it’s, like I said, it’s, we’re more the same than we are different. Like, you’re right, like, same same things are happening here in the US. But it’s, it’s just not as advertised. And some of that has to do with trust. It’s also like, there’s, unfortunately, like, you know, and I think a lot of this has, has matured and evolved, but they’re still, you know, they’re still scamming and other things. So it’s, you know, that that person that’s closer to you, is less likely to do that to you. And so I think that’s also a large portion of that relationship based business is building trust and rapport, like building trust through rapport versus trust through credentials, like what you say, like, like, you know, does your resume say you do this, like if it says, You programming this language, I really expect you that on day one, you’re going to be able to program in that language, you know, and that’s, I think that’s a that’s that’s a big portion of it, too. So it’s, it’s a Oh, you know, big system stuff, like, you know how, but I will say as we globalize, a lot of that’s changed, you know, there’s there’s companies have adopted Western patent practices, I hate to say Western practices, but because their businesses Western business and, and you’re, you’re seeing almost like a seamless integration, and I’ve had some really, really good relationships and great experiences, you know, especially with some of our manufacturers in China, because it’s not just dealing with relationships, it’s also dealing with a 12 hour time difference, you know, just for communication. So, it’s, I think, the world is a lot smaller than we think it is. No,

Aaron Moncur 15:37
I want to go back to a completely different comment you made earlier, this is when you were working at the vineyard, and you mentioned that you learned how to read a room, you know, identify the people and maybe how to interact with them. Communication is such a hugely important part of engineering, as it is just life or business in general. How can you share, if you can think of maybe a specific a story or an experience or two that you had at the vineyard where learning how to read the room, learning how to interact with people has helped you, as a, as a director of engineering, or in your engineering role in general,

Greg Paulsen 16:21
every time I pick up the phone, as a, you know, as application engineer, my experience all that, you know, at the tasting room has come forward, for sure. I, you know, people come in for different reasons. So like when you’re, you know, bringing it up to the tasting room, but when you’re in the tasting room, like some people, they just they didn’t want to try and go some people want to, like talk have conversation, it’s almost like being a bartender, right? Like, you still have to make sure that there’s pace, like, like, there is an end in sight. At the same time, you want to make sure their experience is just phenomenal. Like, you know, you wanna you want to make sure that you’re bringing that stickiness to, to that customer, you want them to come back, you want them to really enjoy it. And you know, whether it’s like, you know, the small talk talking about, you know, where they’re from, where they’ve traveled to those basics to kind of get an understanding of that they’ve, they’ve definitely tasted before, like, you can tell, like almost sometimes how someone holds their class or how they, you know, how they’re moving, or like how they’re, you know, how they’re sniffing the wine. And you may bring up more details on that than you would for someone who’s kind of like, I don’t know much about this, you know, like, they already say, like, what they you know, what they like, like, I want sweet wines, and you’re like, Okay, so let’s, you know, maybe it’s sort of, you know, these wines are sweet, but maybe I’ll use it from fruit forward or something like that, to kind of get them more interested in it. You know, upfront because I know, it’s not like sweet is like, by the way, sweet is the measurement of sugar. Which Fun fact, if you want to test the sweetness, I just use the tip of your tongue nothing more, and the tip of your tongue tastes the sugar because that’s where your receptors are. And, and you you work. And yeah, you just work with whether their their level of interest and understanding is. And this translates to, again, what we do in xometry. So much because we offer so really quick feel like we offer 11 different manufacturing technologies, we have, you know, things traditional like CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, injection molding, urethane casting, and we have seven types of 3d printing. So the gamut of industrial 3d printing processes in both plastics and metal. And every single one of them is unique and has its own strengths and trade offs to it. And no matter if you’re like the best engineer, the best CNC machine designer on the planet, you still may not know much about how to grow apart in metal 3d printing or what design attributes it is. So when you’re listening to so when you’re talking to this customer, you you could help gauge what they’re interested in. And sometimes it’s going between the conversation read between the lines, when I’m talking with a with another engineer, and they’re telling me, you know, you know, Hey, can I how they say, like I say, Sir, you know, we had a question this morning, like, can you cut this there was a very specific ceramic material, which is also very hard to see as he cut. And when it comes down to it, it’s like, okay, I heard you say ceramic, but in my mind, I see high heat, or electrical insulation, and or extremely, extremely rigid. And so now my questions are, why do you need ceramic? Because they’re looking for a onesie of something that’ll be super expensive to cut in this but I’m like, I have this SLA resin that has ceramic infill to it. So if you’re looking for, you know, highly stiff and possibly good insulation properties, maybe I can just grow this part for you. You’ll get it in a week. You know, if you’re looking for high thermal, like I have, you know, if I can I use a metal or doesn’t need to be, you know, electrically insulated or intuitive or you What can we substitute for something that is extremely stiff? And, and so we start working around because sometimes when someone asked for something is super exotic, like that sentence could all of a sudden be like us like a $4,000 sentence? Well, maybe not 4000, but like a $1,200? Yeah. And so sometimes you’re like, How can I actually make this $90 For you, like, help me help you and have this conversation. So it’s all about kind of understanding. And and, again, with the experience I have is I’m usually the one talking to those customers about their projects. I’ve been the buyer before, I’ve been the person talking to other people about my projects. But my experience whole for mostly is working with customers on the strengths and trade offs. Because sometimes it’s timeline, I just need to fast I need that shape. Sometimes it’s true. You know, a lot of times it’s for the spec, like I need it like this, no exceptions, and working with them and, and take me out the best route.

Aaron Moncur 20:55
I think that’s a big point, a mentor of mine, he has drilled this into me that intent counts more than content when it comes to questions, right? People might ask you something like, like you said, Can you machine this out of ceramic? Well, do you really need to machine it out of ceramic? Or are there is there a question behind that question? You know, I think that I need really high temperature and something really rigid. I think ceramic is the way to do that. So my question is going to be can you machine this out of ceramic, but really, my question is, can you give me something that’s high heat temperature, and really rigid. So in 10, counts more than content. I’m gonna take a real quick break here and just remind the listeners that the being an engineer podcast is powered by pipeline design and engineering, where we work with medical and other 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 We’re speaking with Greg Paulson, today, otherwise known as Greg of all trades, as he describes himself, who is the director of application engineering at xometry, X o m, e t, r y. So before I started researching xometry, for this interview, I had this this this very uninformed understanding of xometry as a kind of the same as proto labs, I’m sure you’re familiar with proto labs. Right. Okay. What? I think that I know the differences now, but I’m going to let you explain this. How is xometry different than the proto labs, pipeline? Like company, we’ve used both, and we’ve had great experiences with both. And so in my mind, they were kind of just the same thing, but tell me how was xometry different than proto labs? Yeah,

Greg Paulsen 22:57
definitely. And, by the way, you know, proto labs, you know, they can be, they can be considered a competitor. It’s always like the respectable, like, it’s actually a, it’s a company, it’s very interesting, where they’ve, they’ve focused on essentially, building a standardized set of tools, and a standardized set of tools, they’ve created a way to compute how to make or mode, that 3d image based off their toolset. And that means that they can standardize and create, you know, quick quotes to run in proto labs, large facility. So proto Labs has a very large facility of like 500 machines, but it’s, it’s their facility that they’re running in. And because it’s standardized, it also means that certain things like you know, tight tolerances, surface finish call outs, so higher spec work is sometimes out of scope, because the tools that they have, have have limitations to it. xometry We took a very different approach to that. So we are actually what’s called a manufacturing as a service. So we are a platform that is backed by folks like myself and more experienced people than me on you know, machining, machining, molding sheet metal, you name it, where you can upload a 3d model. You can get your instantly your pricing. Within seconds of your model being uploaded, pricing will show up and lead times for all our manufacturing technologies, including traditional stuff like machining and then you could dive in. So if you’re just looking to get something cut to shape to general standards and tolerances, you click Buy right away. If you are looking to get a highly SPECT out project, you can go into essentially this little tab called modify part. Open it up, change it to your No 7075 aluminum alloy add, you know, add a surface finish to it. So let’s get you know, let’s hard code this now let’s add laser laser marking, let’s go ahead back and tag this, I need a CMM inspection I have 16 points that have tolerances of sub what sub 1000s. Here, I need to make sure that I have my CSCs I need a export control ITAR ID for material certs. And I need 21 You can do that all in about a minute. And your price is right there and you press buy. And so it makes this very complex quoting process for high spec components, especially like aerospace, defense, medical commercial, like the engineers are putting tolerances, all these parts on purpose, right, you know, there’s, there’s a reason why things like GD and T and stuff exists, because these parts aren’t just shapes, they’re things that actually need to be used in the real world. And you’re able to add, add that information, get in some pricing, and, and move on with your day, you know, send that to your sourcing team or, you know, pay with your personal card, and, and get that get those parts. And then on our fulfillment side, what’s beautiful about us is our capabilities are just constantly evolving, expanding, because we use a manufacturing partner approach. So xometry is connected with over 3000 manufacturing partners in the US alone. Most of these are small business shops like CNC machine shops, fabricators, we have things like 3d printing service bureaus, tooling, and die makers. And when you press order, we look at our veteran manufacturing network. And we use actually AI and data science to pair the scope of work, what makes your projects a success. And pair it with those who can make that most successful at the lowest cost. So you get price competitive with this without a bid war. We are pairing your work with those who love to do that type of work. And their small businesses. We’re paying Small Business manufacturers who are looking for better cash flow, they’re looking to keep their spindles turning, and we’re elevating their businesses by giving them work on demand. So

Aaron Moncur 27:12
yeah, sorry, I’m going to interrupt real quick here that that to me was a big difference. Because proto labs, like you mentioned, they have everything in house, right, the you know, 500 machines, or whatever it is. And xometry Maybe you have some equipment of your own as well. But the majority of the the equipment that xometry quote unquote, uses is owned by these smaller machine shops that are that are, you know, peppered throughout the US, right.

Greg Paulsen 27:40
Yeah, and I mean, what’s great about us is we have a big storefront, right, you look for these services online, xometry will pop up, and, and what were storefront for these businesses, because they never may never have access to like NASA, or any like large organizations like BMW, Bosch, Dell, GE, they’ve all they all are customers of xometry Actually, they ended up being investors xometry, because they really liked this distributed manufacturing business model that we have. And even things like, you know, we’re actually just opening up something kind of new here we have a 2d drawing marketplace for, if you ever work with like legacy designs, where there’s no 3d CAD, it’s just you know, that 1960s Scan vellum, we now have a, we don’t have a service that is helping you directly connect with manufacturers that we’ve already vetted through our network. So like quality manufacturers to get it’s still RFQ, but it’s on our side. So it’s all consolidated with us, but you can actually get your quote or get your droids reviewed, get feedback quotes and even order on our site with direct connections to the so we’re calling the to do 2d technical drawing marketplace, or we’re trying to be this this place where if it’s technical manufacturing work, go to xometry first and that that’s really our goal is we want to be that to that one stop shop.

Aaron Moncur 28:57
Let me ask a question about tolerances because there might be a way to do this at proto labs I can’t remember off the top of my head now but at least what the standard workflow at proto labs, you upload a stamp or a parasolid or whatever file SolidWorks file and then you get a quote, but you can’t attach tolerances to the 3d file and there’s no at least what their standard workflow no way that I know of to upload a drawing that has tolerances on it. It xometry Is there a way to specify you know, I need plus or minus two thousandths of an inch on just these features but the rest of it can be plus or minus five

Greg Paulsen 29:33
Yeah, so we have our first of our manufacturing standards are kind of like they’re we’re not making up these manufacturing standards. We have standards for every technology that are just universally accepted as like you know every every machine shop will understand distance tolerance generally is going to be plus or minus five thousandths and then we have distance and hilarity tolerances that that get a little bit wider as the part gets longer because that’s what happens to metal and plastic. As it gets longer. It tends to tend to Want to flex on you. But they’re universally accepted. So if you don’t provide CAD, if you don’t specify tight tolerances, you’re still we’re still inspecting to that general manufacturing standard. But if you do need, you know, tighter tolerances in specific areas, within within that autocoding drop down, you’re actually able to select a tight tolerance range. And then how many locations have that it’ll automatically adjust your quote. And there’s another thing it’s going to happen, you’re gonna see a little yellow box that says, give me a drawing, please. Yeah, threads tapped holes. If you need like a smoother surface finish, like a 32 IRA or something, it’s gonna, it’s gonna say like, that’s great, but we need to read a drawing. Now give me give me that drawing,

Aaron Moncur 30:44
it’s gonna prompt you to upload a drawing. Yeah,

Greg Paulsen 30:47
and because these are, you know, real experienced machinists that are looking at this, I mean, these are, you know, small business machine shops, and they do this professionally, they’re going to be reading this drawings, and making sure that we hit to the standards and specifications. So like, so we have a way of getting the ease of instant quoting from the 3d file, while at the same time allowing you to communicate what you actually need to do like this is this is the scope, this is the real scope of the project. And you’re able to specify enough on a quoting engine to get the price right, immediately. And by the way, cool, yeah, by the way, even if you don’t like if you don’t see the material, we have entire engineering teams that are able to mainly quote, so say it’s a, it’s a more of an exotic material. For free product, it’s not on our drop down, which we have most most major materials are but if you don’t have it, you can select custom type in what it is. So sometimes, it’s usually an alloy like a specific alloy like a t 6511. Aluminum specifically, please, and and the press requests, requests may or view it goes to our internal team or internal team will then take a look at it, quote it out, get it back to you within a day. So you could still use our site. And we could do manual work, or you could always review quotes or look at competitive quotes if you need to. So we’re still people, you know, we’re

Aaron Moncur 32:04
well, I want to be clear that this there’s no like partnership or anything between xometry and pipeline, just a conversation here. Total lapses great, use them for a long time. One thing that I found, not me actually a team member really likes about xometry Is he gets some swag every now and then. I think he’s gotten some like some coasters and a notepad or something like that. And he will, he will fight you tooth and nail. If there’s an option between xometry and proto labs. He wants the chance they’re getting that swag. Jason, if you’re listening to this as a shout out.

Greg Paulsen 32:39
It’s really funny. So well, we’ve been we’ve been working remotely. I know the audience doesn’t see the specific exercise bike behind me because I’m in in our, in our basement right now, where I where I work for the last few months. And part of my job is educating on different materials and parts. So I’m ordering parts, and I’m getting them delivered to me. Again, my zombie boxes, and my wife jokes is like, well, another xometry box. I’m like, Yeah, but I had this stack of coasters. Because yeah, you get you get the coasters. And I have a I have a daughter, three year old daughter. And she was she’s taking my ultimate Frisbees, she’s putting them in a shelf, putting the cursor on top and telling me that she was making pizza. So like, posters all over the floor

Aaron Moncur 33:25
xometry providing a source of enjoyment and playtime during COVID exam. All right, what are the 3d printing technologies that xometry offers is HPs, Multi Jet Fusion, the MJF technology, which is kind of newer on the scene, right? Tell us a little bit about that. And how does that differ? What are the benefits over more traditional 3d printing technologies like SLS and FDM and SLA.

Greg Paulsen 33:55
Yeah, and just kind of note, as I mentioned, I’ve been working with SLS for over a decade now. And I just, I’ve really enjoyed it, or I still enjoy it. But one of the one of the reasons why I like SLS so much, is because this is selective laser sintering. So it is you’re building parts in a powder bed, it’s a heated powder bed, that powder is the plastic, and it almost feels like flour. And it will a laser will go in a SLS process and fuse the cross section of your part. And then it also that fuses enough to hit one layer underneath create that third dimension. So it sticks to the what’s underneath it. And then the next layer goes on top of unused powder and you fuse that cross section you build a build a build, but the beauty of laser centering like SLS is that you are you do not need support structure. So if you imagine taking like a golf ball and sticking it in flower then letting go, it doesn’t float it doesn’t sink it kind of stays there. And the same thing happens with these processes where afterwards the UEFA build area cool but you had this giant block of powder and then you treasure hunt inside to find your three dimensional parts. And because you’re building so many parts in a three dimensional space, so you’re not just stacking them on a table, you’re putting them like kind of floating them in air, and you’re keeping them usually only a couple millimeters spaced apart from each other. So you can really pack this up with parts. You as a customer only paying for that little space that your parts taking, and it’s very economical. So,

Aaron Moncur 35:26
quick side side tangent about SLS. So I agree SLS, SLS is terrific. It provides parts that are strong and flexible. And the fact that it doesn’t require supports is phenomenal. I hate supports, right? They always leave the bill puckered marks on the parts that meant that the surface finish. The thing I don’t like about SLS, is the surface finish. It’s pretty rough. Do you Do you know is that ever going to change? I mean, let’s say 510 years in the future, oh, we’re gonna have SLS parts that have a really nice clean surface finish.

Greg Paulsen 36:04
So you’re, you’re actually really talking like negative one year and in the past, but that that. So there are there are more post processing technologies that are out right now that you can look at surface finishes that was very nice as the surface finishes are there vapor smooth, but if you’re like if you know like desktop, 3d printing with ABS, you can use acetone because it’s not chemically compatible, you get that smoothness from this. So kind of think the same concept only somebody that can work with a Amad base materials. So like something like polyamory, which has dialogue. And it does surface smoothing, is getting more popular, just like in fact, some of our manufacturing partners are actually running these machines now. And I’m hoping I hope that we added to our platform sooner than later. But we’re actually actually law these people are running these machines are actually running with the MJF platform, which I’ll segue to. But because you can get some surface smoothing, it’s not going to be perfect, it’s not gonna be glossy and can’t be like, I want it to be, you know, empty 11010 Like you could with or with injection molding, but you can smooth the surface and also smooth the surface in any process enhances the physical properties of that part by giving by creating an even more even surface. But it’s nice, because even that these processes can work with things like Bolton, and other high performance materials that are really difficult to tumble because they’re high performance materials and really tough. So I’m excited about about some of that. But yeah, so SLS as a person who’s operating around the machines, you know, I’m usually like, okay, 13 seconds later, 13 1314 seconds later. And you’re like, wow, that’s fast, especially for how much you’re building. But when you think about every layer is you know, 120 microns. And we’re talking about doing that over, you know, I’m gonna go from microns inches, but like 60 inches or so you’re, you’re talking about are not 60 inches, like 30 inches, you’re talking about a lot of layers, and that adds up to most bullets being somewhere between like about 25 to 30 hours, depending on density of pack, and SLS. So Multi Jet Fusion, for through HP is what I would call it innovation using the existing knowledge from from selective laser sintering. Because we love this no support powder bed process as as operators as well as users, because it is so forgiving. There’s for geometries, like you’re mentioned, you could do you make the walls thick, it’s a stiff party, you make the walls thin, it’s flexible, you know, it’s, it’s a really, really cool and you don’t need to worry about supports on the on the complexity. So MTF, though, is like how can we, you know, increase throughput on this and make it easier as an operator to handle and hopefully reduce pricing that way. So instead of a laser hitting on this, it is it’s a inkjet bar that will go across, and essentially put deposit black ink on the white powder. So the powders of these two processes are exactly the same, like you hold them here like it’s the same stuff. And it’ll ink the cross section of those parts. And actually, there’s two inks, there’s one for the edge and stop bleed. And then there’s one for the Fusion agent, which is going to essentially absorb heat, because the second stage is even heat bar going across that build chamber. And it’s applying even heat to the unsynced and into powder alike. But that black ink powder is absorbing enough heat to create the melt. And that melt is enough to fuse its neighbors and then fuse underneath getting you that third dimension. So it’s achieving what the laser is doing. But it’s doing an all in one pass a boom, boom. So all of a sudden, I’m like six, seven seconds later. And it doesn’t. It doesn’t sound like much but all of a sudden my full builds are now like 18 to 20 hours and my throughput increases. And a lot of times on these industrial machines the pricing of your parts has less to do with material, although it has something to do with material, but it has more to do with the overhead expense and overhead of these machines. So the machines are able to get a little bit more out. So on a one to one, if I built you one, one part, multi fusion and SLS, and you blindfolded you receive them, you’d be holding them and be like, I literally can’t tell the difference. Like, you know, if you took off the blindfold, you’ll see one that if it’s in the natural state of a NGF, it’s gonna be gray. SLS is naturally white. But the MTF is gray, because like I said, it’s that black binder, and then it has a edging compound. And that’s where you kind of get this greatness from, to it. Like it’s got a detail compound. But if you’re start ordering in bulk, you may see differences in pricing, where MDF, sometimes went out or very small parts that all went out. So again, very similar processes on the on the outcome from from what you’re going to receive, other than something like cosmetic, like visual looks. But the throughput can make HP a little bit more competitive when you’re looking at production and additive.

Aaron Moncur 41:09
Interesting. Okay, thank you for explaining that I didn’t know I didn’t understand exactly what the process was. So it’s basically the same material, I’m assuming material properties and things like that that’s a effectively the same between the two.

Greg Paulsen 41:21
HP actually is boasting and slightly improved. But again, if you’re I mean, if you’re going in like ANSYS, and simulating it, you’re gonna find some, some differences. But for the layman, I will say snap tabs and clips tend to behave a little bit better, better in the HP product. But like I said, SLS is still just, it’s such a high throughput, you know, platform and so established. There’s there’s a lot less question marks, since HP is also introducing things like that. Fusion agent, and the detail agent into the print. So it’s it’s has a little bit of a learning curve to get to an acceptance standpoint, especially when you’re looking for things like like aerospace and more commercialized manufacturing, who have used who have used and utilized SLS additive. But yeah, those are those are so similar. I wanted to create clarification there. We have, like I said, we seven, seven different technologies, and they’re all different, like So even things like photopolymer bass, like we have stereo lithography, and we have over a dozen different materials in that. So here’s the difference with that though, is like SLS and Moshe fusion, you’re running nylons, and TPU materials, and other materials net and their real thermoplastics. Like you put heat to plastic it melts thermoplastic with with these things like SLA, you may know that because the parts come out, like with his much more finer surface detail to it like a smoother surface detail. They’re coming out of a liquid bath of resin that’s cured with ultraviolet light. So because that’s not plastic, right plastic like a thermoplastic, it’s actually curing and they’re engineered to behave like plastic. So if you go on xometry site, you’ll see stuff like polypropylene, like abs like polycarbonate, like and then we have the ceramic field which our head Application Engineer Tom, he always says, Don’t think plastic think toilet bowl when you’re talking about flex with with the ceramic field. If you try to flex it, you will break it. But the but they’re engineered materials, right? They’re engineered to, like dash like, like abs like material. Right?

Aaron Moncur 43:26
Right. Right. Yeah. Okay. So what what can we look forward to in the future from xometry? What what are the innovations that we’re gonna see in the next, you know, few years?

Greg Paulsen 43:36
Well, I think this whole marketplace manufacturing aspect, and being kind of a central point is, is a really big deal. Because this problem of procurement just exists where a lot of times, you, as a buyer, don’t know where to go to get what. And you may also have supplier overload, where you have so many suppliers on your, on your list that you like, see, so you had 2000 suppliers on your list, and you do like one change in your internal organization. And also you need everybody there’s somebody sign an NDA or something, you have 2000 NDAs a sign so xometry helps solve this supplier consolidation by being xometry. This one single storefront and also consolidates the manufacturing technology. So I think for you know, from a simple standpoint, we’re going to be continuing to add and create better intuition around new manufacturing technologies on our site. I think there’s a lot of opportunities for small businesses, with xometry with the different branches that we have as as we’re growing, especially for small business manufacturers to be part of the dominatrix network, whether it is directly interacting with customers, through our marketplaces like that 2d technical drawing marketplace or finishing work, or working with that more catered white glove service that is our core business, which is an instant quoting site. There’s lots of options means for them to get work on demand, and essentially get faster pay, and usually some better rates for things like materials and other supplies, because we buy us representing all these also when you become a giant manufacturer rep that we can leverage for better deals for manufacturers. So I think the flywheel is really starting to spin for xometry in the last couple of years. And as we continue to grow, we’re going to be looking at how can we, you know, enhance our suppliers. So that this manufacturers, it just make it dirt simple to be to get custom parts made through, you know, through our site. So it’s, it’s, it’s going to be those those things. And I don’t know if you if you have European listeners, right, but we also we have xometry Europe, which has been around for a year now. And so we have manufactured 18 countries in the EU, and some to Europe itself a space in Germany. So there’s expansion, there’s, you know, we’re going global,

Aaron Moncur 45:56
Impressive, impressive. I know that it’s been in the fat past few years that xometry has kind of come onto my radar. So for sure you guys are doing something right. Well, we should probably let you get back to your day here. But before we go, would you like to share any contact information? If people want to get a hold of you? What’s the best way for them to do that?

Greg Paulsen 46:18
Yeah, well, I’m Greg Paulson, pul Sen. I’m always happy to connect on LinkedIn. And as you could tell, and I love talking shop. So if you ever want to talk technical details, you know, our go over materials are new, I love keep my eye on new additive processes, please reach out in regards to xometry, is the is the best place to go. And that that will take you to all our services and site. I actually do a lot of our FAQ and resources and also a lot of fun videos, including some engineering challenge videos. So if you ever want to see me like throw 3d prints against the wall, go check out our video section. But, you know, we have a lot of educational content. So even if you’re not quoting, there’s stuff on the side that can be very useful to learn more about different different processes, different technologies, whether it’s 3d printing or something traditional, like molding. We want to enhance that, like we want to make engineers better, like I want better drawings. i It makes me a better manufacturer for you. So definitely check that out.

Aaron Moncur 47:23
Great. All right. Well, Greg, thank you so much for taking some time out. I know you’re a busy man, I really appreciate you sharing some of your knowledge with me in the podcast listeners.

Greg Paulsen 47:32
Thank you so much. Happy to be here.

Aaron Moncur 47:38
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 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.
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 brought to you by Pipeline Design & Engineering. Pipeline partners with medical device and other product 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

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!

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Start typing and press Enter to search

Rob DonleyKirsty Crofton