Co-Founders of AON3D Answer Four Questions for Founders
1. Tell us about the journey since AON3D’s launch.
AON3D was founded in 2015 with the purpose of making industrial-grade 3D printing accessible to companies of every scale. After finishing our studies in materials engineering, all of the co-founders immediately saw how much potential there was in both democratizing the technology, and making the physical 3D printed parts significantly more capable via using the strongest 3D printable materials in the world.
The three things that we consider the biggest challenges for adoption of 3D printing are cost, quality and usability. Our first generation 3D printer focused on the first problem of cost as typical Industrial 3D printers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so unless you’re a Fortune 500 company, you’re likely priced out. It was a successful proof-of-concept that confirmed a widespread demand in the market, which led us to continue our development of affordable, high-performance industrial printers.
2. How are you applying transformative technology to create a positive impact?
A critical part of AON3D’s business is our open material ethos that our printer hardware is compatible with thousands of different types of thermoplastics & composites. This design flexibility gives our customers the ability to push the boundaries of what’s possible with 3D printing. Because of this, we’re serving hundreds of customers across a variety of industries: healthcare, aerospace, manufacturing, automotive, R&D, and consumer products.
Within healthcare, we have customers building cancer treatment aids, and doing medical implant research. One interesting application is 3D printing boluses, which are an object that is placed over a tumor during radiation treatment to control the radiation profile. We helped the customer go from scan data to a customized bolus that can be 3D printed the same day, on-site, and at a lower cost than traditional methods. They use ABS for this application, which happens to have a radiation absorbency rate that is similar to human skin.
Another interesting untapped area with a lot of room for growth is tooling, jigs, and fixtures. Our technology unlocked a new application within the electronics industry through the use of high performance materials, where you need extremely heat-resistant materials for assembling PCBs.
Every new customer we serve teaches us something about how 3D printing technology can be utilized. The privilege of being on the cutting edge of these applications is one of the most amazing parts about working at AON3D.
3. What has been your biggest challenge as founder, and how have you learned from it?
The pandemic has made it very challenging to efficiently build a hardware product. The travel bans have prevented many of our remote employees from traveling to our main HQ, and has disrupted the onboarding process for new hires.
We are actively adapting to improve our ability to sync remotely and are utilizing new tools and structures to keep product development as on-time as possible Specifically, we have made massive changes in how we use various communication tools, including using long-form writing over meetings to free up focused working sessions.
One positive outcome from this challenge was that it inspired us to open our first remote office in Brooklyn, NY at New Lab. This has already produced amazing results. We’re now more confident that we can be a more remote friendly company. This allows us to utilize talent that may not be able to work from our main office in Montreal.
4. What role has Newlab played in helping you advance AON3D?
As a Canadian company, Newlab represents our first footprint in the US. Having a Brooklyn office has allowed us to begin acquiring more US based talent and the facilities and resources at Newlab will allow us to have valuable design and prototyping capabilities in both of our offices.
Additionally, Newlab’s community has so much relevant experience that can contribute to our new product exploration and product testing. It is extremely valuable for us to have access to companies across the many industries represented at Newlab who can provide real-world application feedback as we develop our next generation products, but also who can beta test our designs here in the office.
AON3D will also continue to fundraise and add new customers to our sales pipeline, and Newlab’s expansive global network will be a key for us to reach new companies and investors. We also hope to be able to bring 3D-printing for high-strength and high-temperature materials to Newlab members to support their development and production needs!
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