EOS to Support AM Implementation with New Consultancy Group
Recent steps in the company’s planned growth in North America include the re-opening of a renovated facility in Novi, Michigan, and the launch of the Additive Minds North America consultancy group.
A consistent theme from AM supplier EOS over the past year has been a strong commitment to growth, especially in North America. The opening of the company's Pflugerville, Texas, facility last year and the recent remodel of its existing Novi, Michigan, location were in part motivated by the need to be closer to customers across the continent and provide faster, more flexible service and support. These moves serve that goal, but also lay the groundwork for a deeper shift in how EOS will serve the North American market, according to company leaders I spoke with at the opening of the remodeled facility.
EOS hosted an open house for customers, employees and guests on February 15, 2017, in honor of the completed renovation. The facility now boasts ample office and conference space, as well as a showroom housing two M 290 and one M 100 direct metal laser sintering machines, plus a P 396 and a Formiga 110 laser sintering system for polymers. But the event was less about introducing a new facility (EOS has been in this location for the past 13 years) and more about reinforcing its presence and growing portfolio of services.
In a presentation during the event, Senior Vice President Andrew Snow noted that EOS had just surpassed 1,000 employees worldwide, and now has sales and service facilities in 11 different countries plus 67 distribution offices globally. Of its global employees, 130 work in North America, with about 45 in sales and service roles and another 15 serving as engineering support. As the company continues to expand—future tech centers are planned for the West Coast and New England regions—these numbers will grow.
In addition to expanding its ranks, EOS is also thinking differently about what it has to offer its customers. In one sense this means increasing production; as Snow noted, the company is currently producing 400 to 500 units per year, but has the capacity to scale up that number to as many as 1,000 to 1,200 as the market demands.
It also means continuing to develop the technology and build on existing products. For example, a demo of the company's machine monitoring system, EOState, running during the open house illustrated improvements in machine monitoring and connectivity. Using EOState Everywhere, an extension that lets users monitor machines through a browser or mobile app without being on the same network, a computer monitor in the Novi showroom was able to display data not only for the machines running in the same room, but also those in the Pflugerville showroom.
But the ultimate goal is larger than updated technologies and more machines. The company is transitioning away from being solely a provider of discrete machines and materials to offering complete production solutions.
A new consultancy group, Additive Minds North America, will help with this. Additive Minds partners with companies to help develop additive manufacturing solutions, incorporating EOS’ consulting, Innovation Centre and Additive Minds Academy offerings. The new group is the counterpart of the existing Additive Minds organization associated with EOS GmbH in Germany.
Gregory Hayes, recently named director of North America Applications and Consulting for EOS North America, will lead the group. He sees this role as a means to help partner companies confront barriers to AM implementation, no matter where they are coming from.
"We talk about additive manufacturing in terms of a cycle," Hayes says. That cycle starts with manufacturers asking "What is additive manufacturing?" and "What can it do for me?" before moving on to understanding different technologies, looking at specific systems and materials, identifying viable parts for AM, and training (or retraining) employees in the necessary mindset and skills. The goal for EOS is to have answers for all the steps in this cycle, from justification through to production.