When it comes to innovation, concentrated efforts must be made to solve seemingly insurmountable challenges. These challenges block technological breakthroughs and prevent design engineers from manufacturing the complex 3D metal parts they need.
Of course, few individuals relish solving problems more than Sid Raje. As a Technical Sales Engineer, it’s Sid’s job to help customer organizations better understand the value of the Velo3D end-to-end solution, and to determine whether our technology can help them achieve the innovation they require.
We recently chatted with Sid to talk about his previous additive manufacturing (AM) experience, how he views the culture at Velo3D, and what helps differentiate Velo3D from other AM technologies.
Thanks for chatting with me today. Do you mind telling our readers a little bit about yourself?
Not at all. My name is Sid Raje, and I’m a Technical Sales Engineer at Velo3D. I work remotely, and live in Mariemont, Ohio with my wife Nicole and our three dogs: Finley, Emma, and Kona. I have a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. But just so we’re clear, my sports allegiance is with Georgia Tech—go Jackets!
That’s good to know! Tell us a little bit about your professional background.
I started my career at Textron right out of school, in a rotational leadership development program. During that time, I got to experience three roles across three different businesses in three years, which span the automotive, aerospace, and space industries. This experience quickly taught me how different industries face different types of challenges in the market. After that, I joined Bell Helicopter, where I worked as a design engineer and as a project engineer across their commercial and military product line for several years. During that time, one of my technical mentors introduced me to AM, and I was hooked!
What caused the jump to additive and what brought you to Velo3D?
Additive was just something that I’d started to learn about and found very interesting. Prior to Velo3D, I worked at a competitor for about five years as an Applications Engineer and a Technical Sales Engineer. That experience taught me a lot about the benefits of AM when used in the right applications.
The reason why I made the transition to Velo3D was the technology. Velo3D’s overall approach to AM and the end-to-end solution simply makes sense and is seamless for the customer. We’re truly stretching the capability of the technology in an elegant way instead of creating workarounds to a very fragmented workflow and rebranding those workarounds as proprietary “best practices.”
Tell us about your role at Velo3D
Well, there are two major aspects to my role; one is externally facing, and the other is internally facing. On the external side, I am responsible for fielding technical inquiries from prospective customers, and for driving parts demand to our fielded Sapphire® family of printers.
The technical inquiries I get can include creating business cases, building a part pipeline, or just providing general AM training. Our prospective customers can range from someone who has no previous experience in Laser-Powder Bed Fusion to someone who already has parts in production.
On the parts demand side, we want to keep our AM systems printing as much as possible. This includes systems that Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) customers have purchased to print parts and includes systems purchased by our network of Contract Manufacturers (CMs) who are in the business of selling parts. The key differentiator of Velo3D technology that enables me to drive parts demand to our fleet of systems is Velo3D’s ability to create a self-contained locked-down “Golden Print File” that can be printed on any Sapphire® printer without the need for machine or operator-specific tweaks.
With the internally facing aspect of my role, I get to collaborate with many different functions. I provide technical support to the sales and marketing teams, and I provide industry perspective to the functional engineering teams.
Why is it important to work so closely with the engineers?
In my role, working closely with engineers leads to better customer relationships and an improved overall customer experience. The better I can be at defining customer-driven engineering requirements, the more equipped our engineers are at solving the tough customer challenges.
When it comes to the work that you do, what motivates you the most?
I love working with people and I like problem solving. Luckily, my role is a unique blend of both. I get to collaborate with virtually all the teams internally but also externally with customers across different industries.
As someone who is “newer” to the company, how has it been settling in?
I’ve found it easy, which is surprising given that I work remotely. Because I’m not on site, I expected it to take much longer to get acclimated and to start collaborating with the broader team. But the breadth and the perspective that I get to see in my day to day drives me to collaborate with a lot of different people, which has made getting to know people super easy.
And to add to that, despite being extremely talented in their respective areas of expertise, our team is just very approachable, and they’re always willing to help. Everyone’s driven by the same vision—they are all focused on problem solving for the customer. So, you know, it’s a combination of people willing to help and the nature of the role that has kind of brought me up to speed on things much faster than I expected to.
What in your opinion differentiates Velo3D from other additive manufacturing technology?
We offer an end-to-end solution. Our workflow is not fragmented like it is with many commodity AM systems. Each step in our process, (from importing a CAD file to conducting one-click calibrations, running a build, and quality monitoring) is very well thought out, and works seamlessly with the next step. Ultimately, what this means for the customer is a better value, supply chain flexibility, and the ability to print the types of parts that others simply can’t.
From that standpoint, I think what we have here truly is a unique solution. And to be honest, I get to see this every day whenever we help customers print the parts they need. There are many customers that come to us with shrouded impellers, and other very complex parts, that they’ve tried to print on other systems but can’t. And we help them do it on our systems, often on the first try.
Another factor that differentiates Velo3D is the unprecedented level of support that we offer, whether it is pre-sales support, engineering support, equipment support, or other technical support. If a customer wants to purchase a machine from us and they need support with applications development or process development for a new alloy, there is no reason to scope this work from a dollars and cents standpoint because it is included with the equipment. For the customer, this typically means a faster time to market and for our engineering teams, this typically means less churn related to scoping and quoting activities.
How would you describe the culture at Velo3D?
I would describe it as innovative. To be innovative, new perspectives are crucial. We’re always encouraged to provide our perspective, exchange information, and work collaboratively. And that collaborative spirit underlines everything we do here.
I also love that the Velo3D organization is very empowering—there’s not a lot of bureaucracy. Instead, we’re all driven by a common vision, then empowered to make decisions that will help realize that vision.
Tell us about a cool project that you’ve worked on.
Some off the coolest projects I have worked on at Velo3D so far have all been parts that push the limits of traditional DFAM rules. In a previous life, I would have thought that they were simply unprintable on a laser platform.
But specifically, at a high level, we’re doing some work in the oil and gas sector, which is really opening my eyes, as somebody from the aerospace field, into the technical requirements of oil and gas customers. And in some cases, those requirements can be much trickier to meet than those of an aerospace customer, which is something that I wouldn’t have expected.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I was born in India, which is something most people don’t know about me. And I can speak three different languages…English, Marathi, and Hindi.
What do you like to do for fun?
I really enjoy cycling. Also, my wife and I have become diehard Formula One fans recently…we rarely miss a race. I’ve also gotten into collecting vinyl records. I don’t quite have an impressive collection just yet, but I’m working on it!