Backed by Siemens Energy, ZEISS, and a couple of venture capital firms, the platform aims to connect industrial clients with a network of certified additive manufacturing suppliers to fulfill their on-demand needs, such as functional prototyping and spare parts on-demand.
According to Markus Seibold, CEO of MakerVerse, the platform fills a white spot in the market for industrial-grade additive manufacturing, with part quality at its very core. In this article, he shares his vision for the platform going forward and the role it will play in facilitating the greater adoption of industrial 3D printing.
“What sets us apart, I believe, is the fact that there is still not a fully established player in this market that can combine the advantages of a one-stop-shop digital platform with fully being able to support the needs and requirements of industrial-grade customers,” Seibold says.
“In addition to this, we base our offering on a premium certified supply chain and strong investment in our digital tools.”
Increasing AM adoption
MakerVerse was founded out of a desire to make the adoption of advanced manufacturing easier. By becoming a key connector between industrial makers and producers, the platform seeks to remove the burdens placed on engineers and procurement departments and enable them to focus on what they are best at; designing and making products that make our world a better place.
This is the vision that unites MakerVerse’s leadership team, which is made up of a wealth of experience across additive manufacturing, digital services, and engineering. Having spent a decade at Siemens Energy, most recently as Vice President of Additive Manufacturing, Seibold is a successful venture builder who is well-versed in scaling 3D printing from early-stage R&D to commercial business.
Joining him on the leadership team is CFO Tim Schark, also previously of Siemens Energy and Siemens within M&A project management roles, and CRO Christian Matzen, an entrepreneurial go-to-market executive who has previously built two startups and held roles at ESI Group and Dassault Systemes. Rounding off the founding team is VP Engineering Manish Katoch, an experienced software engineer and previous Director of Engineering at SaaS firm FactoryPal.
The Amazon of 3D printing
Described as the “Amazon of additive manufacturing” by Seibold, MakerVerse ultimately aims to take friction out of the on-demand manufacturing process for industrial makers and producers. The end-to-end platform is designed to seamlessly connect key players to ensure industrial-level quality, credibility, and reliability of 3D printed parts.
“You have a digital front end where industrial makers, our customers, can take any 3D file they have designed and upload it to the platform,” Seibold explains. “The manufacturability of the part is then checked through an online 3D checker and our customers will receive an instant quotation for the part based on the digital algorithms we have incorporated into the platform.”
The industrial makers can then directly order the part they have uploaded to the platform at a given price and lead time, and with the industrial quality standards offered by MakerVerse.
“This streamlines some of the very cumbersome processes that industrial makers currently have to go through when they want to evaluate new technologies, order functional prototypes, or spare parts externally,” adds Seibold. “There are a lot of emerging new technologies and suppliers showing up almost every day, and it is difficult for engineers and procurement departments on the customer side to keep track of this. It is also very complicated on the administrative side to continually onboard new suppliers for every new technology.”
This is where the digital one-stop-shop element of MakerVerse comes into its own, allowing companies to fulfill their demands quicker, with less administrative effort, greater reliability, and improved transparency on price and lead time at the point of order. The other side of the MakerVerse platform is its producers, as Seibold explains the point of the platform is not to act as a classic service provider that fulfills orders with its own printers.
“We are working with premium established suppliers in the additive manufacturing industry because one of the key differentiators of MakerVerse is our focus on industrial-grade quality,” he says. “We want to serve industrial customers, this is our focus. And so we work with production partners that actually know inherently what it means to produce and deliver industrial quality parts.”
MakerVerse forms the bridge between these two sides, offering a digital platform with a globally available certified supply chain for on-demand manufacturing.
Quality over quantity
With the platform slated for launch in early-mid 2022, the MakerVerse founding team is focusing on the quality of its supplier base over quantity to start with.
“For us, it’s really important that we have suppliers on our platform that know what it takes to produce and deliver industrial-grade quality parts, and so we’re working with them via a defined screening, auditing, and release process,” says Seibold. “Secondly, we can add value to these suppliers because we can then help them to utilize their capacities better, get access to new markets, and understand what other applications they could focus on.”
Once launched, the platform will initially focus on continental Europe and the UK, and in particular, will look to work with “very renowned brands” in the industry. In regards to particular sectors, Seibold believes MakerVerse can have true value within on-demand applications and industries where there is a lot of administrative effort to onboard and manage new suppliers.
“In the initial launch phase, the arena of functional prototypes for technology, evaluation, and for initial design and part testing will be an arena where we see the benefit of the platform play out,” he offers. “Here, you have many different supply chain options and you need very fast response times. Another application is production tooling and fixtures where procurement in many cases is rather decentralized across individual factories who in turn can benefit from consolidated access to different technologies via MakerVerse.
“The second application that we see initially is spare parts on-demand, because this is also where you need a supply chain right now and right here, ideally in all different regions of the world.”
As MakerVerse continues to develop its business model, Seibold says added value could be achieved in small series production, particularly for highly customized parts, and even beyond this, he sees the platform achieving full-scale production by offering an always-on, flexible production capacity model.
With Siemens Energy as a founding shareholder, the energy and oil and gas markets will be one focus for the platform going forward, as will industrial machinery and equipment due to the continual need for spare parts in small production batches. Jigs and fixtures, as well as production tooling, are a key need for many production factories where they need fast and efficient access to different technologies.
“Automotive is also, of course, an interesting target area specifically when it comes to small-batch volume production for classic or premium cars,” Seibold adds. “Further out, aerospace and space also have very high certification requirements, which makes them a more eventual step on our roadmap. Meanwhile, mobility and spare parts for maintaining trains and buses might also be an interesting area to focus on.”
Increasing on-demand AM accessibility
At launch, MakerVerse will offer 3D printing services with a view to expanding the platform to include CNC machining and injection molding in a second step.
“We believe that, specifically in the on-demand manufacturing segment, platforms can play a really important role,” says Seibold. “If you need something on-demand, you usually don’t have the time and capacity to search for different suppliers, to send out RFQs and wait, you need it now. And within the on-demand manufacturing segment, which is supposed to double over the next five years, 3D printing is by far the fastest-growing segment.”
According to the recently released Wohlers Report 2022, the additive manufacturing industry grew by 19.5 percent in 2021, while AMPOWER has projected the market will experience a yearly growth of 18.2 percent over the next four years.
“I believe on-demand will see a huge benefit from streamlined purchasing and customer and supplier matching platforms, and within that 3D printing is the fastest-growing service,” Seibold continues. “I believe we will see an evolution of applications, a lot of very short-term demand within functional prototyping, as customers in this area are already very savvy in sourcing different technologies in different regions quickly. But the next big growth that we will see in digital manufacturing will be spare parts on-demand.”
However, Seibold acknowledges that one significant hurdle to overcome for firms looking to switch to 3D printing for their spare parts is proving the process has the same process quality and reliability as the original manufacturing method. The reliability of its supply chain will be one key focus for MakerVerse going forward.
“This is something we are working on internally to ensure that our supply chain delivers continuous and equivalent process capabilities,” he says. “There’s a logical evolution of steps a platform goes through. first, you have to demonstrate that you can react quickly on demand, then you prove that you can meet certain process quality to deliver functional spare parts, and then you try and demonstrate that you can also manufacture end-use parts which require product certification.
“This is how I see MakerVerse evolve over time leveraging this overall market of on-demand manufacturing.”
Once officially launched in Q2, MakerVerse will seek to build up not only a supply chain management team focused on facilitating orders through the platform, but also a strong technical team that can have educated discussions with customers and suppliers alike in order to add value to both sides.
Going forwards, the platform has a roadmap in place to further enhance its digital tools and ultimately increase the overall adoption rate of on-demand additive manufacturing among potential and existing customers.
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Featured image shows the MakerVerse founding team. Left to right: Christian Matzen, Tim Schark, Markus Seibold, Manish Katoch. Photo via MakerVerse.