Startup Interview with Doug Brouse, Equipsheres' VP Strategic Partners & Alliances by@acclivity

Startup Interview with Doug Brouse, Equipsheres' VP Strategic Partners & Alliances

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Doug Brouse

VP, Strategic Partners and Alliances, Equispheres

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I have led technology-based businesses for 25 years. Most significantly, I co-founded and led a software company that provided a solution for the management of high asset value parts. I grew the company to be the dominant provider in our field.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Equispheres is a materials science engineering firm specializing in high-performance metal powders for additive manufacturing in the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries. Applying a deep knowledge of metallurgy and metal technology, we have developed feedstock materials for 3D printing that fundamentally change the productivity and economics of metal additive manufacturing, making these processes disruptive to traditional manufacturing.

What is the origin story?

We began with a business plan in 2015, and some private funding. The next year we produced our first aluminum powders on a prototype reactor, which gained widespread interest from industry. In 2017, we began atomizing aluminum alloys. We filed for patents in 2018, upgraded the reactors for higher yield, and received funding from BDC Clean-Tech Fund and Lockheed-Martin.

By 2019 we had sufficient production quantities to begin qualification for various industries. We achieved unprecedented results. In 2020, field trials continued. We began to show how Equispheres’ powders could achieve productivity increases and significant part cost reduction. New high-speed commercial reactors came online in 2021, and we achieved our first revenue.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

I love the depth of knowledge we have about metallurgy and metals. We have a very smart bunch of engineers and scientists on the management team. We are well-positioned to solve productivity issues in additive manufacturing because we use a proprietary atomization technique to produce a superior powder. Most powders used in metal additive manufacturing were developed for other manufacturing processes, and don’t have the optimal characteristics for additive manufacturing.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

I would be thinking about retirement if I wasn’t caught up in the excitement of Equispheres. I founded my first company in 1996, so I think I’m due for a break!

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

We have a product that is going to shake up the world of manufacturing, so we measure success by how well the product performs on the production floor. In 2020, field trials and internal testing demonstrated a 4x speed increase and a 50% reduction in part production costs. Now, in 2021, our higher-throughput reactors are online and we are starting to see our product make an impact in manufacturing facilities.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

The most exciting aspect of our development is that we are able to offer engineering support to companies who are trying samples of our material. That means we can help them optimize their process for our material, and we can share their delight when our powder exceeds their expectations.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

We are excited about the technological advances being made in the equipment for additive manufacturing because the pairing of higher-powered, more precise powder bed fusion machines and high-performance powders like ours will make additive manufacturing a viable competitor to traditional manufacturing processes.

I worry that the poor performance of powder materials not designed for additive manufacturing will discourage designers and engineers from considering this technology for future projects.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

I was drawn in by your Start-ups of the Year program, but I found I really enjoy the variety of authors and topics on HackerNoon.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Be Innovate. Be nimble. Don’t be complacent. The extraordinary events of 2020 have shown us that stability is not assured.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

Many organizations had great initial success with titanium for additive manufacturing applications and were expecting similar results with aluminum, which is a more commonly used material in many industries. Sadly, aluminum powder has proven to be costly and unreliable in most AM processes. The big surprise is that a superior aluminum powder can be 3D printed as easily as titanium – quickly and reliably.

Please vote for Equispheres in the Startups of the Year Award page for Ottawa, Canada.

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