On Point: Q&A With David Benhaim

December 1, 2021

Emerging from academia via MIT, David is the CTO and co-founder at Markforged.

What is the most important activity for revolutionizing the supply chain?

The next step in revolutionizing the supply chain requires the continuation of supply chain digitization. This means turning toward digital solutions for supply chain management tools, which can store a digital record for each individual item in the supply chain.

Logistically, having a 3D model on file with instructions for each item is a huge advantage for manufacturers. This allows parts and items to be digitally sent from point to point and quickly printed at the precise point of need.
 
What effect will 5G have on government services? Will there be more two-way interaction?

In the same way accessible, industrial-strength additive manufacturing enables agile manufacturing, accessible 5G will enable agile communication and monitoring for government services.

Being able to quickly deploy a high-bandwidth and secure network will enable government services to connect in new ways—improved real-time intelligence and analytics, totally new methods of command and control, network-enabled digital logistics, connected smart warehouses and secure industrial Internet of Things networks.
 
Where will additive manufacturing have the most revolutionary application in this decade?

Combined with the digital supply chain and the “software-ification” of the factory, additive manufacturing (AM) will have a big role enabling the shift of hardware manufacturing from a waterfall-style model to an agile one. Agile-style manufacturing allows for multiple design iterations and faster deliveries.

In the current state of manufacturing, lead times are the chief limiting factor for innovation, which can only happen as quickly as parts can be machined. With the ability to print at the point of need in just days, as opposed to the months it takes to have a part machined and shipped, AM can really accelerate prototyping and research and development efforts while making product development far less prone to supply chain disruptions.

What will be the next big robotics application?

The number one challenge (as well as opportunity) for all of robotics is “awareness.” The critical connection is for machines not only to be able to observe their surroundings but also to interpret and appropriately interact with external systems. This is where we are seeing major advances in technology like consumer car autopilot.

Our company’s Blacksmith software is like autopilot but for manufacturing—it deeply understands the geometries and internal structures of your parts and the processes through which they are manufactured. It automates this process with a self-healing closed loop system, and applies it to Markforged’s vertically integrated manufacturing platform.
 
What do you think is the next great technology trend?

What makes us special as a species is our ability to create tools that solve increasingly complex problems. Two of those areas that excite me today are applying machine learning to manufacturing and bioengineering.

Advances in computing techniques and biomedicine will unlock physiological potential, while advances in manufacturing will unlock potential for our tooling. We started innovating with fire and wheels, and now we’re working on interplanetary space flight, factories that can make suggestions about what they should produce next and finding new ways to overcome the human body’s inherent limitations.

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