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Who’s Who Shaping Additive Manufacturing?

I am thrilled to get up close and personal with four up-and-coming additive manufacturing leaders to discuss the top trends and challenges of the industry for this new IMTS+ Original Series “Moving On, Moving Up.” 

For this series premiere, I spoke with leaders at Formnext Forum Austin, last fall in Texas, to hear their insights on trends driving industrial 3D printing innovation.   

Meet the Visionaries 

Jacob Nuechterlein, president and founder of Elementum 3D 

Nuechterlein is a Ph.D. material scientist and metallurgist. He studied powder metallurgy at the Colorado School of Mines, and it wasn’t until he started his company that he began to understand additive manufacturing.  

Since founding his company, Nuechterlein has worked with a number of aerospace and defense companies, data centers and their cooling systems, and high-end automotive, making expensive engine components for F1 racing vehicles. 

Some of the trends he looks forward to involve making larger parts, whether by wire directed energy deposition (DED) or powder-sprayed DED, which will help cut some of the lead times compared to forgings and castings. He’s also looking forward to in-process monitoring because it offers internal inspection of the part as it’s being printed.  

Prior to co-founding Alloy Enterprises, Forsyth was a competitive ringette player fascinated by exercise physiology and biomechanics. She earned her undergraduate degree in bioengineering from Syracuse University. With plans to stay in academia, Forsyth decided to try industry before committing to a postdoctoral fellowship. She landed an internship at a startup company and got hooked.  

Forsyth then took on engineering leadership roles for several successful new companies and thrived in shaping businesses’ trajectories and technical roadmaps. She eventually earned her Ph.D. in engineering sciences from Harvard University. She is now working with her team at Alloy Enterprises to streamline the production of strong yet lightweight aluminum parts.  

Stephanie Bonfiglio, director of integration and client relations at i3DMFG 

Bonfiglio started in manufacturing in 2006 with a German company that made small, circular connectors. From there, she worked for a company that focused on cable assemblies.  

In 2018, Bonfiglio joined i3DMFG when it formed as a startup. She helped create some of their backend administrative processes. She has been with them ever since. Bonfiglio finds additive really exciting because of its potential to create interesting and complex metal parts. 

She also loves seeing more women joining the additive manufacturing space and is looking forward to motivating the next generations because there is definitely a future in it. Trends-wise, she is excited to see improvements allowing serial production at a higher volume and lower cost. 

Noah Mostow, business development manager, Phase 3D 

Mostow took a roundabout route into engineering. He first pursued business and environmental studies, but knew he was always good at math, so he tired engineering. He loved problem-solving and the daily challenges that his classes presented, and for his senior project, he reached out to Burton Snowboards and ended up working in its 3D printing lab for a year, learning the printers and setting up the machines.  

After leaving Vermont, Mostow knew he wanted to be in additive manufacturing. He earned his master’s at the Colorado School of Mines and then moved into a marketing intelligence role, looking at the industry as a whole. After years of gathering information and figuring out what the biggest challenges the industry faced, he took a position as the business development manager at Phase3D. 

Memorable Moments and Industry Insights 

My first question for the panelists focused on their most memorable moments from the show. They unanimously highlighted the power of networking, collaboration, and the unique familiarity of the event that created an environment for growth and innovation. They also shared some of their personal journeys into the world of additive manufacturing, underscoring the diverse paths that have led them to the forefront of the industry.  

Nuechterlein admitted to knowing nothing about 3D printing until he started his company. “That’s how you learn things, right? I bought a [printer] to learn how to do it and had an idea, so I just jumped in,” he recalls.  

With 20 years of experience, Bonfiglio started with electrical connectors and had an opportunity to jump on a new startup company. “It’s been super exciting. I didn’t know anything about additive, but to see how we’ve grown over the years has been pretty awesome,” she claims.  

Forsyth came up in the startup ecosystem. She helped develop technologies in the Boston area and just always loved the interface between software and hardware.  

“My whole story is kind of falling into this through luck,” Mostow explains. “I’m an engineer by trade, and during my senior year at Vermont, I connected with Burton Snowboards, who have an entire 3D printing lab. We did our project with them, and I fell in love with the technology.” 

Game-Changing Innovations 

The conversation then delved into groundbreaking technologies and processes. Alloy Enterprises had been featured in the news for its new aluminum manufacturing process, aiming for high through-series production with fully dense 6061 aluminum parts. Forsyth explained how the cost competitiveness of the technology has opened doors for applications in aerospace, industrial equipment, and automotive.  

Nuechterlein discussed Elementum 3D’s proprietary aluminum alloy, the 5083-RAM5, which offers strengths comparable to the 7000 series without the need for heat treatment. The conversation highlighted the industry’s revolution, moving beyond traditional materials like copper. 

Bonfiglio talked about i3DMFG’s production-based approach to direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). With open-site licenses, custom parameters, and a diverse range of stocked powders, i3DMFG has positioned itself as a leader in additive manufacturing. 

Mostow shed light on Phase3D’s patent-pending in-process monitoring system, which uses structured light to gather data layer by layer. This technology enhances quality control and is crucial for the transition to Industry 4.0, supporting informed decision-making and scaling production.  

Educational Outreach and Industry Advocacy 

The manufacturing sector as a whole is struggling to find skilled workers, and additive manufacturing is no exception. At the forum, many presenters hyped it up as the place to attract the next generation or even the current generations who might be considering changing their careers.  

When I asked each panelist how they would pitch the 3D printing space to attract future workers, they each emphasized specific initiatives such as university collaborations, curriculum development, and community outreach to underscore the industry’s commitment to nurturing talent and fostering a diverse workforce.  

Industry Challenges 

To conclude the conversation, I asked each panelist what they thought was the biggest challenge facing the additive manufacturing industry. Here are some of their key points:  

Nuechterlein: “The biggest challenge, I believe, facing us right now is the lack of printer manufacturer technicians. There are not many people who are experts that can come out and fix the machines.” 

Mostow: “I think that’s part of the puzzle, but we need to gather more data. If we want to get to that production environment and actual lights-out manufacturing, we need to understand what is going on within these technologies.” 

Bonfiglio: “I would add that standardization of additive manufacturing is so broad right now.” 

Forsyth: “One that I think we are just on the cusp of is the circularity and sustainability of our materials. So, not just thinking about the printing process or additive process, but how is the material made, how much carbon does that take, what happens with reuse or recycling of the material? How can we make these materials as circular as possible, reducing CO2 emissions?”  

Shape the Future of Industrial 3D Printing 

Join the conversation at upcoming Formnext events, a brand that needs no introduction in the AM community. Mesago Messe Frankfurt has produced Formnext for years, growing the show to be the largest industrial additive manufacturing event in the world.

Now, with the help of AMT - The Association for Manufacturing Technology and Gardner Business Media, the event has a presence in the United States:  

AM Sector, accelerated by Formnext, at IMTS 2024, Sept. 9-14   

Formnext Chicago, April 8-10, 2025  


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