I spoke with 3YOURMIND CEO Alexsander Ciszek to learn more about their interesting arrangement with Carbon.
Carbon is the well-known manufacturer of DLS-style 3D printers that are often found in larger manufacturing scenarios. They’ve been developing not only 3D printers, but specialty materials for industry and especially powerful software to drive additional usage by manufacturing clients.
3YOURMIND is a US-German company that offers Industry 4.0 workflow software creating transparency about the best production technology for parts, supply chain management, and shop floor automation. The company is currently focused on the Additive Manufacturing production process.
The two companies announced an unusual arrangement where Carbon clients would have access to 3YOURMIND services. At first this seemed a bit odd to me, as I would have thought any Carbon client could already acquire 3YOURMIND services on their own. I reached out to 3YOURMIND to clarify what was really happening and ended up in a long conversation with their CEO, Alexsander Ciszek.
Ciszek explained the genesis of 3YOURMIND, which was inspired by the concept of 3D printing. He wondered how could it be truly integrated into manufacturing, as 3D printing had been traditionally used only for prototyping, which has entirely different and far less formal workflows.
“The biggest blocker in adopting AM is to understand the potential of switching from conventional production technologies to additive. Manufacturers need to understand not only the ROI calculation of switching to additive but also the Business Case, which includes benefits related to the Supply Chain. The knowledge of this is hard to get, experts, are required.”
One of 3YOURMIND’s first products was a digital inventory system that would automatically scour a library of parts based on technical and economical criteria. This allows companies to easily identify the parts that are most amenable to 3D printing. That may sound straightforward, but it’s not at all so when you’re dealing with libraries of thousands of parts: automation is required. Today they call this their “Agile PLM”.
Since then the company has developed two other key elements of the puzzle: an Agile ERP for product lifecycle management and a Manufacturing Execution System (MES) to ensure a complete end-to-end workflow. Ciszek calls this “Identify. Order. Manufacture.”
Back to the Carbon arrangement.
What was the nature of this deal? Do Carbon customers automatically gain access to 3YOURMIND services? Is Carbon acquiring 3YOURMIND?
It turns out it’s nothing like those speculations, and instead is a technically interesting step for Carbon.
But first let’s understand what an MES does. A Manufacturing Execution System receives requests to produce parts and organizes the jobs required to make them. This is done by, in many cases, directly interfacing with 3D printing equipment through manufacturer-provided APIs. 3YOURMIND has actually done this with several other 3D printer manufacturers’ equipment.
For this arrangement, Carbon is providing 3YOURMIND the ability to connect to their machines, and apparently this is the very first time Carbon has done so, according to Ciszek.
In other words, 3YOURMIND could be the only way to run a MES directly against a fleet of Carbon 3D printers. Of course, 3YOURMIND also brings their other services, ERP and PLM, to the table.
Carbon has provided 3YOURMIND with detailed information about the DLS process that allows 3YOURMIND’s PLM service to more accurately identify parts suitable for 3D printing from a given inventory. Ciszek said:
“The parts assessment for Carbon is more accurate, and this allows clients to identify good use cases for Carbon equipment. It is much faster and easier to find parts that would work with Carbon equipment. That capability allows clients to more easily productionize their shop floor.”
However, Carbon clients wishing to use 3YOURMIND’s services will still have to pay for their own licenses.
Ciszek said the two companies actually have many mutual customers, so it may be that this is more a matter of “turning it on”, rather than new purchases of 3YOURMIND product from existing Carbon customers.
Does this arrangement mean that 3YOURMIND is focusing on Carbon equipment? Aside from the immediate benefits of integration, there is not a shift towards Carbon by 3YOURMIND. Ciszek said:
“The product is machine agnostic, and that is very important to us. Typical workshops use many different machines, so you need to have agnostic software to run them all.
Our goal is to identify suitable parts for 3D printing, not necessarily just carbon. It also depends who is using the software. Depending on the user, you can change the assessment.”
In other words, a search for “the best parts to print” is actually an ambiguous question. You might want to find parts that have the highest potential cost reduction. Or you might instead want to find the parts that have the most lead-time improvement. It just depends on the situation.
For clients, 3YOURMIND’s service could be tremendously important if considering a digital transformation, and there are plenty of them after the pandemic’s deep rattling of efficient, but fragile supply chains. Ciszek said:
“Many customers are feeling the effects of COVID-19, and feel a push from the situation. They want to rethink how to produce parts, and many are doing digital transformations. Some may only be using the technology as a bridge for production. It doesn’t work for everyone, as it depends on the situation.”
Such a transformation could be of far less effort due to the automated pre-qualification done by 3YOURMIND, fewer engineers would be required. That’s quite important, given the current shortage of additive-capable engineers in the market.
For now, however, Carbon clients should consider 3YOURMIND’s services, as they have a notable advantage over competing services.