This article originates from Women In 3D Printing and is part of our effort to support the use of 3D printing technology by women. The article is re-published with permission.
Annie is the co-founder of Senvol, which provides analytics on the Additive Manufacturing industry. Senvol not only shares interesting facts and studies about the 3D Printing industry, it also has a database of machines and materials available – Senvol Database. Thanks to her expertise, Annie also published a section of the 2015 Wohlers Report.
Nora Toure: Annie, could you let us know about yourself and how you came with the idea of Senvol at first?
Annie Wang: When Zach (Annie’s co-founder) and I first came into the additive manufacturing (AM) industry we recognized that there was a lot of technical and engineering talent, but there was a lack of business talent. We felt that applying a business perspective to AM would be very beneficial. We created Senvol to provide analytics exclusively for the additive manufacturing industry. We developed the Senvol Algorithm to conduct quantitative data analytics to help Fortune 500 manufacturers make informed decisions on topics such as cost analyses, commercial viability, and market segmentation.
We use the Senvol Algorithm to help clients in a variety of different verticals, such as aerospace, automotive, consumer products, healthcare, and oil & gas. While helping our clients we came up with the idea for the Senvol Database. We were constantly sifting through hundreds of machine and material spec sheets to answer seemingly simple questions, such as “which machines can process titanium?” So we decided to build the Senvol Database and make it free to access in order to help the industry advance.
The Senvol Database is the first and only comprehensive database of industrial additive manufacturing machines and materials. The database is completely free to access , and users are able to search for machines and materials by over 30 fields. Some of the search fields include machine build size, material type, and tensile strength. Users of the database range from beginners (e.g. those just beginning to assess the technology) to experts (e.g. additive manufacturing design engineers).
Nora Toure: You have a background in both Chemistry and Business. How and when did you got involved with 3D printing?
Annie Wang: I took a class titled “Innovations” several years ago while getting my MBA at Wharton Business School. The class was almost entirely focused on 3D printing. I was instantly hooked. I had previously worked in operations consulting and quickly saw the potential for 3D printing to solve many manufacturing and supply chain challenges. Additionally, having a science background really helps me understand the technical aspects of AM.
Nora Toure: Could you share your first experience with a 3D printer?
Annie Wang: My first experience was at the first AM conference that I attended. It was eye-opening to see a wide diversity of machines and materials. I was especially drawn to the industrial additive manufacturing machines and was very keen on learning the nitty-gritty of how an exacting process can create a final part.
Nora Toure: Senvol Services is about providing valuable analytics. You said you’ve worked with some Fortune 500 companies in the past. Without getting down to a full analysis of the industry here, are there some AM insights you could share with us today?
Annie Wang: It’s important to recognize that 3D printing is not simply a manufacturing solution, but rather is a supply chain solution. We have conducted a wide variety of quantitative 3D printing analyses, and based on this work, we have identified 7 supply chain scenarios that tend to lend themselves well to 3D printing. The 7 scenarios include supply chain situations such as long lead-times, high inventory costs, and remote locations. For the full list of the 7 scenarios, you can visit our website, http://www.senvol.com. Each of the 7 scenarios is explained there.
Nora Toure: Do you have some advice for new-comers in our industry looking to integrate an additive manufacturing strategy in their business?
Annie Wang: First, it’s important to educate yourself. AM is a very broad and diverse industry and it’s important to understand the landscape (e.g. 7 different AM processes, what machines and materials are available, what is can and cannot be made using AM today).
Second, developing a network of contacts is crucial and attending conferences or joining organizations, such as America Makes and ASTM F42 Committee, is a great way to do that.
Third, recognize that it takes both technical viability and economic viability to warrant switching from conventional manufacturing to AM. In other words, it’s not only about what you can make in AM, it’s also about what you should make – and you shouldn’t manufacture a part using AM if it’s not profitable to do so. This is why it’s critical to develop a business case for AM.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we get more women involved with 3D Printing?
Annie Wang: I would absolutely love to see more women in AM! I think it’ll take time for more women to be in the industry but it’s very heartening to see more and more young women entering the industry. The best thing we can do right now is to support each other and do the best job we can so that we can be visible as leaders in the industry.
Nora Toure: How would you like to see the 3D Printing industry evolve in the future?
Annie Wang: There are three major challenges. First, there needs to be a crystal clear and well-defined process to fabricate parts with a closed loop feedback system to ensure that parts are high in quality and repeatable. Second, we expect to see a lot of material and process innovation in the future that will begin to solve the problems of limited material choices and low throughput. Third, we expect to see more automation in the fabrication process and post-processing, which will eventually decrease the cost of AM.
Thank you Annie for your time and your involvement with Women in 3D Printing!
And don’t forget to join the Women in 3D Printing group on LinkedIn, click here to join!