Expert Interview: Mike Vasquez from 3Degrees

07 March 2016
A number of additive manufacturing trends involve extrusion-based technology

Additive Manufacturing Expert Mike VasquezRecently, we had the pleasure of talking to Mike Vasquez, an expert in Additive Manufacturing. Dr. Vasquez is a trusted advisor to some of the top companies in the industry. He earned his PhD in Additive Manufacturing at Loughborough University in England and received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in materials science and engineering from MIT.

Mike is the founder of 3Degrees, a Chicago-based consultancy in Additive Manufacturing. 3Degrees has a broad scope and delivers practical solution to help organizations maximize their investments in Additive Manufacturing. Mike is also a frequent speaker at industry events (SXSW, Inside 3D Printing Singapore, 3D Printer World, Additive Manufacturing Users Group, Innovation Enterprise Conference London and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers) and a guest lecturer at MIT and the University of Sheffield Hallam.

We had the pleasure of discussing the background of 3Degrees and the latest trends in Additive Manufacturing. When asked about the motivation to set up 3Degrees, Mike pointed to the hype: “We help to navigate through the hype. We believe that Additive Manufacturing is not right for every industry and every application.” Mike’s motivation is to solve technical problems with a people component. “It is important to understand the organizational element.”

RP Platform: Mike, you have spoken to many companies in our industry and are currently running a survey. Do today’s manufacturing business have enough know-how to use the potential of Additive Manufacturing?

Mike: Many companies are in the process of trying to figure out how to best apply the technology to their particular business. There are many options for 3D printers and materials, which can make the adoption process challenging. Additionally, companies need to consider how to design parts to best take advantage of 3D printing processes.

RP Platform: What are the biggest limitations for companies using AM technology, from your experience?

Mike: It really varies depending on the company and particular industry. However, there are a few concerns that I generally hear, including:

  • The material property differences between 3D printed parts and traditionally manufactured parts
  • The cost of printing hardware and materials
  • The ability to design for 3D printing
  • Standards and quality management for part production
  • The speed of 3D printing production systems
  • Post processing requirements
  • Safety and part validation

RP Platform: Industrial grade Additive Manufacturing hardware comes at a significant cost. What is a typical machine utilization rate and how can businesses better capitalize on their machines?

Mike: This is a great question, and really difficult to answer because it varies widely. In order to make a smart investment in the technology, you need to have a clear understanding of the types of parts you want to make to ensure you’re selecting the right technology — and that includes not just what you want to do today, but also where you see opportunity six months, a year and even two years from now.

RP Platform: Do you see a trend of manufacturers building AM capabilities in house that makes AM Bureaus redundant?

Mike: Service bureaus offer a lot of advantages for companies working in the AM sector. They provide a great option for companies to experiment with new machines/materials without investing thousands of dollars in the actual hardware.

Mike is doing internal research on how companies adopt additive manufacturing technologies. Please take couple of minutes to answer few questions of the survey:


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