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AM Community Conversation with Dan Brunermer, ExOne

Adam Penna, SME AM Community and Dan Brunermer, Technical Fellow at ExOne discuss the road to AM, the future of Additive Manufacturing in manufacturing, and the role the AM community plays.

Adam: Welcome! I am Adam Penna, I'm here to continue the conversation about 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing in manufacturing. I'm happy to be joined by Dan Brunermer Technical Fellow at ExOne today – also known as the ‘Binder Jetting G.O.A.T.’ – greatest of all time!’

Dan: Hey, thank you, Adam, it's a pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Adam: The additive manufacturing community has a lot of great messages, so we're happy to talk with you today and expand that message inside of manufacturing for ALL of additive.

What was your 1st experience with Additive Manufacturing?

Dan: I've been a machine designer since college. I studied Physics and my first job was at Leskers in their Systems Division, and then I worked for about six years doing assembly lines, one-off machines, and then I got into Additive Manufacturing. I've always been a big subscriber to all the big magazines, like Machine Design and Plant Digest, so I would read about it. My first direct contact with it was literally on my job interview here at ExOne. It was April of 2001 – I got to see their machines printing, close and personal - it was an old RTS 300.

What really captivated me about it from the minute I saw it was “Oh my God, I can get metal parts without having to make a drawing. I can get anything I want, and I don't have to have a manufacturing drawing for it, I can just print the part now”. I was absolutely filled with wonder. I was barely aware of powdered metallurgy let alone printing into powders so it was a huge eye opener.

How do you see AM evolving into the future?

Dan: When I was designing my first machine, I said to my manager “The day that someone's holding a brochure in their hand from Makino or Mazak, and somebody's holding a brochure in their hand for an ExOne binder machine, and they're actually trying to make a choice between what's my next technology upgrade going to be in my manufacturing shop - when binder getting is even comparable to established manufacturing techniques - that’s when AM would arrive.” I think we're arriving.

We just put out that big article about the year of binder jetting being 2021. When I think about the future of AM, I think about the fact that we have lots more materials to choose from now - we're getting to the point where it's a selectable technology.

I think it's becoming more and more ubiquitous to where people are just starting to understand where the technology gets applied well and what its strengths are. There's been a lot of education in the market, but I think for the future, there's another whole layer of company that additive folks don't really work with right now. In my experience designing assembly lines for high production or one of a-kind machines, you're part of an ecosystem of integrators. As an integrator, when you get into high production volumes, it's almost always a special machine.

I think that the future of additive is somehow going to have to be even more modular in our thinking that we are now. I think the future is going to be more integrators getting involved and looking for modular products to put into extremely specialty purpose, one-of-a-kind machines.

The future is where we collaborate, innovate, accelerate because it’s of the best way for us to move forward: to focus on spreading out, making the technology available.

What do you think defines the AM community?

Dan: There's a couple of really interesting dichotomies: it's an extremely open and sharing secret society. The users of additive talk about collaboration and openness and sharing like “Hey, try printing this part!” – they are a really special breed. The OEMS have competition, but we serve together. It’s a group that collaborates more, at least from my experience in other industries before I came to Additive. It's openness and open collaboration is why it's been able to maintain momentum over the last 20 years: because of how enthusiastic the users are, and how enthusiastically the users support each other.

Adam: It’s amazing where the 3D world has gone, and inside of manufacturing and inside of additive, we have these things that we could do now inside of production, and that's the whole manufacturing environment that is out there, so we're kind of tipping towards that.

What is the impact of Additive Manufacturing to the broad manufacturing industry as a whole?

Dan: I think it's been making in-roads for a long time. I think that tooling and direct printing of parts is going continue to be a winner for additive.

What would your advice be to people learning about implementing or adopting additive manufacturing?

Dan: Go down a “D”! In terms of binder jetting and 3D printing, before I even got into the 3D printing aspect, I spent my first year and a half studying printers and going to printer conferences and learning everything I could about 2D manufacturing or about 2D printing so that I could apply it to 3D print.

Don’t just get into Additive - learn about manufacturing. Learn about all of it. Additive is a great technology that has its place, and that place is growing every day in manufacturing, but you're never going to displace100% of CNC - CNC is incredible technology. It’s never going to be a 100% displacement, so learn about all of it and make sure that you understand where you fit in. That was a really big advantage for me in understanding additive: I understood manufacturers, manufacturer's needs, how they actually work, how they want to work. Start at the beginning - go through it all or take some survey courses on manufacturing; don't get stuck in thinking about only additive.

What roles does you see SME playing in the Additive Manufacturing space?

Dan: Education is a pretty big part of it - that's probably the number one: just being an educational resource for manufacturers, helping spread the word. The events that they host, all of the webinars that I've been going to. I kind of feel like that's number one: getting the word out and getting clarity on why you should be using one technology or another.

Adam: We have this wonderful show coming up, the event RAPID + TCT in September in Chicago.

Have you attended RAPID + TCT before?

Dan: I've been to RAPID several times! I think my first RAPID was 2005. I love to go and learn what other people are doing and see what I'm doing wrong. I've always wanted us to send our whole engineering team there because I think that once you see the parts that are possible, when you let go of all of the classical manufacturing technologies out there and you really start to think in free form fabrication... it changes the way you think. What I really love about RAPID + TCT is just seeing the diversity of new stuff. There's a lot of machines I haven't seen yet that I want to see. I like to go watch everybody’s machinery doing its thing.

ExOne will be at RAPID + TCT this year talking about binder jetting, we have our new design lab powered by Rapidia so we're gonna have a Design Lab machine there with a lab and furnace. We're gonna have something to say about the 160 Pro that we've been working on that for about a year now, and we have some pretty exciting things going on with the 160s, so we will be debuting a little bit more of that. Come check us out!

What’s your advice for attracting our younger generation to Additive Manufacturing?

Dan: I just try to be who I am, I love additive, and I could talk binder jet all day, every day. All I can do is be as excited as I am about it anyway, and to try to get a young person to be as excited as I am. You’ve got to be open and inviting, get over any prejudices first, and be supportive by giving your best advice, your best thoughts, your best experiences. Embrace the next generation and recognize that the best thing that you can do for your own legacy is to inspire somebody to carry on what you were doing.

Adam: Wow, we've had a great conversation and this has been awesome, looking forward to everything that ExOne has coming up, and it's always a pleasure to speak with you, Dan, thanks for being here today.

Dan: Thank you so much Adam, this was a real treat. I had a good time.

Leading up to RAPID + TCT (September 13 - 15), Adam will be sharing AM Community Conversations – watch for new releases weekly!

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