Interview: Dyndrite CEO takes us “from CAD to 3D print within five minutes”

“We care about efficiency, quite a bit.”

That is the key theme Harshil Goel, founder and CEO of additive manufacturing software developer Dyndrite, says he wants me to take away from our conversation at this year’s Formnext.

It’s a concise introduction from a company built on the enormously complex language of kernels, GPUs and CPUs, but a few simple clicks into a demo, I quickly discover that making complex tools efficient and approachable is what Dyndrite is all about.

‘Quick’ is a prime word here. Within the first five minutes of our meeting, Goel has successfully imported a model into the Dyndrite platform, generated supports, made some changes, ran the next iteration, copied and pasted the new design, added some crucial labels, performed slicing – basically the many steps that designers and engineers have to go through day in, day out to take their design from file to finished part. The recent Forbes 30 Under 30 inductee makes it look so simple that I walk away believing even I, three engineering degrees less qualified, could take the mouse and churn out some successful parts.

“That’s the point,” Goel tells me. “Honestly, if someone has difficulty learning how to use this, we did not do our jobs right. This is supposed to be like English and this is supposed to be really, really accessible. You should be able to go from CAD to print within five minutes of installing the software.”

Dyndrite (pronounced “den-drite”), is a Seattle-based outfit which emerged after more than three years in stealth to a captivated crowd at the Additive Manufacturing Users Group back in May. Backed by Google’s Gradient Ventures and former Autodesk CEO Carl Bass, the company aims to provide an alternative to the software tools which Goel and his team of mathematicians, scientists and software experts saw were holding the additive manufacturing industry back. “Iterate at the speed of thought” was how Goel put it early on and watching this wizardry unfold on the show floor in Frankfurt, it seems his team aren’t too far off.

“We’re at a unique point in time where the hardware has actually outpaced the software,” Goel tells TCT. “It’s not even just on the design side. It’s just how do you go from CAD to print?”

Dyndrite is not a design tool. It’s not a simulation tool either. So, what exactly does it do? Behind the bold statements about ushering in a new era of manufacturing, its interests lie in geometry and the crux is to help people gain control of their CAD to 3D print process. At the core is the Dyndrite Accelerated Geometry Kernel (AGK) and Dyndrite ACE (Accelerated Computational Engine), the world’s first fully GPU-native geometry engine. Put simply, the kernel is the central maths behind a programme’s operating system and you can do a tonne of stuff with it. Powered by NVIDIA Quadro, ACE has been built from the ground up for modern computer architecture, modern manufacturing and modern design needs, according to Goel.

“We specifically decided to build an additive manufacturing application because we saw a bunch of people in quite a bit of pain running around with their heads on fire and said you know, I think we can build you something to help.”

That something is Dyndrite’s Additive Manufacturing Toolkit (AMT) and accelerated production preparation build processor for 3D Printing, both unveiled at Formnext. The platform allows users to import native CAD data, any geometry type and huge data sets (goodbye STLs), and export to any 3D printing process. It also comes with integrated Python API for scripting automated workflows and applications which can be used on laptops, desktops, local servers or the cloud. 

“Of course making complex geometries is difficult… [but] I don’t think many people really care about lattices at all. They look interesting but you can’t QA them, you can’t clean them, you can’t service them and you can’t figure out how to fix them,” Goel explains. “On the other hand, being able to iterate is significantly more important. If it takes you 15 minutes to load a file and you do that four times a day and you have 10 people in your company and your burn rate’s 100 to $200 an hour, you’ve now burned 10 to $20,000 a week just opening files.”

Processes that have traditionally taken engineers multiple pieces of software and hours or days to complete can now be done in a matter of minutes. Goel shared how some customers who were used to taking up to 70 hours to slice a design were now able to do so in under two hours. Furthermore, the ability to handle complex geometries natively without constant importing and exporting means quality and part fidelity is controlled. Beyond making that process much faster and more streamlined, the other major aim is to improve ROI for users like service bureaus or companies printing thousands of parts per month by automating away those tedious tasks that come before pressing print.

“The idea is to make every single person Superman or Superwoman,” Goel adds heartily. “Again, the whole point is efficiency. Everything that we do is basically ROI guaranteed. If we are not saving you money or time in some way that we’re probably not interested.”

Another big part of Dyndrite’s growth plan is its Developer Council which has already on boarded an impressive roster of AM leaders including the likes of Desktop Metal, EOS and HP. The council is part of the Dyndrite Developer Program which provides OEMs, software vendors and service providers with the necessary tools to develop for the platform. 3D Systems, ExOne, SLM Solutions, ANSYS and Altair announced their participation at Formnext, bringing this industry working group to a total of 15 members,

“The idea with this Developer Council was to create a body that said, okay, we recognise the pain in this industry, we want to work together to elevate everyone across the board, avoiding all the IP stuff, of course, but to kind of figure out a way to make things better for people,” Goel elaborates. “Our goal is to not tread on everyone’s shoes, it’s to say, this is what we do, this is why we’re focused about it. Let us help elevate everyone and just be the best mathematicians in the room.”

The company says it wants to be friends with everyone in that room. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t licence ourselves to everyone here,” Goel says, alluding to bigger ambitions of having a Dyndrite sticker on every machine (I spot several Dyndrite logos already dotted around on various booths on the show floor) but he asserts that while there is a lot of scope for this technology, Dyndrite is staying focused, honing in on five market segments: aerospace, automotive, energy, medical and service bureau.

“By being the glue that sends all the data to the machines and interacts with ISVs, it opens the market up for someone like ANSYS or Altair to all the printers, quickly,” Goel says, explaining how those various partners may use the platform. “Then for the OEMs, maybe you can use our Python API to make an app store. It actually is meant to explode the industry and actually create a tonne of jobs.”

It is clearly doing something right. Two major metal additive manufacturing players, Renishaw and EOS, recently teamed up with Dyndrite to adopt the AMT into their respective workflows. For Renishaw, that means integrating AMT into its QuantAM build processor to accelerate slicing, latticing and lightweighting while also speeding up the overall CAD-to-print process. For EOS, it will support the build processor for its direct metal laser sintering portfolio to increase performance, portability and repeatability. 

After just under a year in beta mode, Goel says the company is getting close to having a product that’s ready for a full release. It also recently launched its limited-time Magic Amnesty Programme that will close in April next year. The intention, Goel says, is that for a fixed fee Dyndrite will recognise how many current licenses a customer has and match it for a whole year, whether you’re a start-up with one license or a multi-million-dollar company with hundreds. Until then, it’s continuing to push the platform, bring in more developers, and excited to see what those first users do with the technology.

“As you can probably tell, we’re pretty paranoid about making something perfect,” Goel concludes. “We think that we’re going to be flipping the switch sometime next year.”

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