Vuecason is in the early stages of developing a way to 3D print metal-like plastic. The Vuecason printer will be a 5 Axis CNC and metal 3D printer Hybrid machine that prints with ordinary metal wire. This approach solves a lot of the constraints that most existing metal 3D printers have.
Banjeree is a generalist engineer, working on everything from structures and power electronics to firmware. He led electronics and worked on structures at HyperloopUC in the SpaceX Hyperloop Competition in 2019 and the Boring Company's Not-A-Boring Competition in 2020. HyperloopUC was a finalist in the Hyperloop competition as one of 20 teams out of 500 and a finalist in the Boring Competition as one of 12 teams out of 390 in the world. He co-founded the University of Cincinnati's electric FSAE team. He also has a background as a firmware engineering co-op.
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Startup Spotlight: Vuecason
Problem: It's incredibly difficult to 3D print metal parts - they have long lead times, most use expensive ultra-fine powders, involve several post-processing steps, have poor strength, and have limited print volume.
Market: The metal 3D printing market was estimated to be $1.04 billion in 2020, which a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.8% from 2020 to 2027. Vuecason will have a strong focus on printing injection molds, dies, and non-structural aerospace components in the short term.
Solution: Vuecason is developing a way to 3D print metal the way we print plastic. We're building a hybrid 5 axis machine to 3D print metal through a nozzle using wire, with integrated cutting tool heads to post-process the part, which enables the ability to produce strong, large parts quickly, in a cost-effective manner, with CNC part quality in one operation.
Team: Just me for now!
Banjeree: I've been successful at making lots of engineering progress without that many resources. Vuecason is not taking existing research and trying to commercialize it. We are developing a new way to print metal with wire from scratch. I don't have access to a lab and haven't raised outside capital. I've been heavily reliant on CAD, back-of-the-envelope calculations(rather than simulation), and dirt cheap hobbyist hardware. In fact, an early version of the print head used a threaded rod as the feedstock and an off-the-shelf ceramic sandblasting nozzle.
While this approach brings a lot of constraints, it also allows me to scope out several engineering problems prior to raising, so that when I do raise, I'll be far more tactful with where resources are applied and who I hire. Often, hard tech companies take existing research and commercialize it. In doing so, they also have to backward rationalize their approach. By developing a new way to print metal, I can evaluate use cases critically and develop the print head around the expected use cases. I expect to demonstrate 2d layers soon.
Banjeree: My primary struggle is identifying people who will be key early hires for Vuecason in the middle of the pandemic. Often startups die due to internal conflict. Also as a 20-year-old dropout, it's hard to find peers that have a background in rheology or metallurgy, and even if I did, most of those people are not going to drop out and work full-time because those fields generally require a Master’s or PhD. Whereas in software, it's almost like undergrads are looking for an excuse to drop out.
I can scope out early firmware and high-level software hires from my own network, Discord, Twitter, LinkedIn. But I have to meet specialized engineering talent in person. This is very difficult to do with lockdowns, and it's made me cautious about raising. Remote work is not really an option for Vuecason. I've seen that some hardware companies have gotten hacker houses. This works well for younger employees. But it's likely that most specialized engineers are older, and a hacker house work environment is not ideal for them. The probability of failure is much higher when hiring specialized engineers remotely, and that's made me cautious about raising.
Banjeree: It's hard to give general advice. I live in the midwest at the moment, dropped out of school, and had no connections to the VC/founder/Silicon Valley network at all. But I was able to use Twitter to break into that space. By following the right people and tweeting the right things I was able to befriend a lot of hard tech founders, investors, and excellent engineers. While Linkedin can help you find people, it's much easier to form a genuine relationship with people on Twitter.
It helped me find and talk to several additive manufacturing engineers as well. Without Twitter, I wouldn't on this F2F Spotlight. I think that if you don't live in the Bay Area, and are in the early stages of starting a company, it's an excellent way to break into tech. With Twitter, I was able to reach out to and meet people that I thought I'd never been able to access in the past.
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