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When it comes to venture investments and exponential technologies, serial entrepreneur Avi Reichental has created brands and reinvigorated digital manufacturing, helping shape the narrative of what people think when they hear about 3D printing. Once the CEO of 3D Systems, Reichental left the leading 3D printer provider in 2015 after a 12-year tenure and revenue growth exceeding six-fold. Since then, he has been creating and leading tech startups, advising companies, and pioneering 3D printing innovations.
As co-founder and CEO of Nexa3D, a manufacturer of ultrafast polymer 3D printers, Reichental described the company as his “crown jewel,” one that he hopes to scale to its full potential. Talking to 3DPrint.com after the highly anticipated 2020 Formnext Connect event came to an end, Reichental looked back at what it has been like to navigate in the midst of a global pandemic, as well as what lies ahead for the company and the 3D printing industry.
Since COVID-19 began disrupting our economy and our safety, we decided to use the time to accelerate innovation. If there ever was a time to see the 3D printing industry shine, it was 2020. The entire industry sprang into action in the early stages of the pandemic, manufacturing everything that the traditional supply chain was unable to provide because it was complex and broken. Initially, Nexa3D also supported local communities by manufacturing critical products for essential needs. Then, we started collaborating with other companies which allowed us to bring to market, very quickly, more than half a dozen materials. But what was really incredible is that during this time, we shipped 70 new printers. We quickly realized that businesses needed to augment their production, like medical and consumer products, many automotive and tier-one suppliers, service bureaus, and transportation or mobility companies. There is a very broad range of companies that decided not to slow down during COVID-19, looking at this as an opportunity to step up their R&D investment because they want to be ready, sharper, and more competitive when the pandemic disruption comes to an end.
During the COVID-19 months, we couldn’t send field engineers or commissions to the marketplace, which forced us to virtualize all of our operations. We were able to do virtual installations for dozens of customers, and even at Formnext Connect, Nexa3D created a beautiful and interactive exhibition booth, thinking of innovation not just on the product, material, and software side, but also on the business model. This is very important because, through all these available virtual tools, we are able to do things that we didn’t even imagine a year ago. This period really acted as a catalyst to accelerate the adoption of remote and virtual tools. Best of all, Nexa3D is showing that it can scale, grow, and succeed during a very challenging period. It is not trivial to grow a business in the best of times, it is much harder to do it when times are bad.