| 33 MINUTE READ

Episode 33: Ethan Escowitz, Arris Composites

CW Talks checks in with Ethan Escowitz, co-founder and CEO of Arris Composites, to learn about the Additive Molding technology his company has developed.
#northropgrumman #automation #outofautoclave

Ethan Escowitz, co-founder and CEO of Arris Composites is the guest on Episode 33 of CW Talks: The Composites Podcast.

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Ethan Escowitz, Arris Composites

Ethan Escowitz, co-founder and CEO of Arris Composites. Photo Credit: Arris Composites

In this episode of CW Talks: The Composites Podcast, host and CW editor-in-chief Jeff Sloan talks to Ethan Escowitz, co-founder and CEO of Arris Composites (Berkeley, Calif., U.S.). Ethan discusses how he got into composites manufacturing, the Additive Molding technology that is the foundation of Arris’ business, how it was developed, the applications it’s best suited for and recent R&D done by the company.

Jeff and Ethan, during this interview, discuss a technical paper Arris presented at CAMX 2020, titled “The Convergence of Composites and Topology Optimization, Ushering in the Next Era of Aircraft Lightweight Structures.” The paper outlines work Arris did with Northrop Grumman to develop a composite bracket to replace a metallic legacy bracket.

Transcript of podcast interview with Ethan Escowitz, recorded Sept. 30, 2020

Jeff Sloan (JS): Hi, everyone and welcome to CW Talks, the Composites Podcast. I'm Jeff Sloan, editor-in-chief of CompositesWorld. This is Episode 33 of CW Talks and my guest today is Ethan Escowitz, co-founder and CEO of Berkeley, California-based Arris Composites. I will talk to Ethan about the Additive Molding technology that Eris has developed, applications is being targeted toward and how Additive Molding is being deployed in the marketplace. Ethan also talks about how he started his career as a geologist and wound up in composites. Hi, Ethan and welcome to CW Talks.

Ethan Escowitz (EE): Hi, Jeff, great to be here. I have enjoyed listening to these and I enjoy being here in person.

JS: Let's talk first about Arris Composites. I'd like you just to tell our audience a little bit about what Arris Composites is, when you established the company and why.

EE: Sure, so let me take that backwards. We started in 2017. And leading up to that, I'd spent a good bit of time in conventional manufacturing, the molding, forming, casting a lot of the technologies that make a lot of the products that surround us every day, and then prior to 2017, about a decade before that was really a lot more focused on additive manufacturing, and both the composite/metal/plastic spaces, and there was there was ultimately in the beginning of 2017 a bit of a bridge that I was looking for, and how to take the benefits that I saw in the additive manufacturing world composite manufacturing world and, and combine them with the high-volume capabilities that so efficiently produces those products that surround us every day. So 2017, the video was really where we started out and developing the process and some of the some of the machine elements. And, you know, going forward, a lot of the a lot of the first year was process development, some of the machine development 2018, we're bringing production systems, the early prototypes online. 2019 was a lot of creating the robust and repeatable production elements to the systems. And really what we've been working on is scaling up the customer programs that we have been, we have been working on in parallel to the development of our technology. So really, to, I guess, to answer your question at the highest level, it was combining the capabilities in terms of performance of the aligned continuous composites, and some of the geometries that were not previously possible and incorporating many of the methods that had developed in the composites world with regard to different materials and layups and such within automated production system.

JS: Okay, so I want to talk a little bit more about your technology, because I know that what you what you've developed is maybe technically additive manufacturing, although I think it's different from what we traditionally consider as additive manufacturing. In fact, I know you call your process Additive Molding. And it what I'd like to do is just have you walk us through what your process is, and I think we can include with this, when we post this, some videos that kind of show more clearly how the process works, but maybe you can just talk to us about what what the process is that you've developed.

EE: Sure, so it's a lot easier to to explain this to a composite audience, because the concepts are, are so familiar, and it also is worth unpacking the name Additive Manufacturing a little bit because many of the methods, ATL in particular, are fundamentally might have a different name but are a similar identical process in many respects to what what we're calling additive manufacturing. So, if we if we follow that, that line of thought a little bit, because some people might call us additive, others, others might not. Ultimately, we are writing really taking advantage of of methods that you know, we can look through the history of composites, to some degree. You know, many of the artisan and layup processes paved the way, ATL AFP started looking at electromechanical ways to manipulate fiber alignment. You know thought leaders like Fiber Forge started looking at doing automated pre forming. And then what we really looked at was how do we make these these these complex fiber alignments in complex parts. And, and essentially our electromechanical system produces these near net shape, complex, continuous fiber, preform assemblies, and then we, we mold them in a post processing step. So I call it a post-processing step. You know, fundamentally, it's a fully kind of, it's a fully end-to-end automated manufacturing cell. But you if you called molding, post-processing, you might call it additive manufacturing. If you call the preforming a preformed process, you might call it a mold and mold in preform technology, it probably just depends what industry you come from.

JS: Okay, and so, when you talk about post-processing, what do you mean?

EE: Sorry, so we have two steps in our process, one is the preforming step. And the second step is the molding step. So we have taken the name additive from the additive manufacturing of making the preform assembly and the molding from the molding step, where we consolidate the pre form assembly

JS: Okay, and you're preforming dry or prepreg fibers directly into a mold?

EE: So we use thermoplastic composites that are pre-impregnated.

JS: And those are being automatically, or at least with some sort of automation, deposited into a mold and then transferred into a compression process.

EE: Yeah, exactly.

JS: And can you gang the molds or family molds? I guess it depends on the size of the preforms and the size of the part?

EE: Yeah, the multi-cavity molding methods that have evolved in primarily injection molding have paved the way for the rapid heat cycling that provides the great economics at scale of our methods. So certainly it depends on the volume of the program that you're running, how many cavities that you might want to run on a particular part. And certainly the size of the parts comes into play as well. A lot of parts that we'll work on will have previously been a number of different parts that were an assembly we don't have the limitations of the injection molding where you need to flow resin through you know, complex set of runners and in gates and then how to flow properly as you would an injection molding and then also with different resin transfer approaches where you know, those things drive complexity and tooling cost and design considerations and quality considerations with resin rich areas. So working with the preform to distribute the material throughout the cavity volume gives us a very, it gives us great homogeneity of composite material through all zones, and takes a lot of the pressure and setup cost out of making making new parts. But that also, getting back to the original size point, underscores why why larger sizes can be quite practical because we can distribute the material across a larger area or certainly through multiple cavities if that's if that's kind of the size part class we're talking about.

JS: Okay, and so when you say small and when you say large, what do you mean what what do those mean to you?

EE: Sure. So, we've made customer parts for portable electronics that have features that are you know, between point three five and point four five millimeters with aligned continuous fibers, and then we've made you know large eight foot long trusses, the method?

JS: Okay. You also mentioned that the material we're using is thermoplastic prepreg thermoplastic. Are you doing that prepregging yourself, or is the raw material you're requiring already prepregged?

EE: Both, so we we do impregnation in-house for a variety of applications. And then there obviously, is a great ecosystem of suppliers that we work with as well. You know, part of the part of the credit of what we're able to do today goes to the materials companies that have made this really wide range of cost performance materials, both obviously in the fiber space, as well as in the resin space that we're able to use in our system, that that range from lower cost, you know, lower cost consumer products, resin systems, all the way up to aerospace grade, flight, flight approved resin systems. And then similar with performance of all the fibers.

JS: You mentioned that you some projects you've worked on have consolidated parts or structures that were previously made from multiple parts. I'm wondering if that's where you see the sweet spot for this process, or you also mentioned volume. I'm wondering, you know, when you position this process, and you look at good applications for it, how do those mesh up?

EE: Yeah, it's a great question that I don't think there's a great blanket answer for it. It actually kind of begs the question of product architectures and new manufacturing methods. So just in principle, just to talk to that, in principle for a second, many of the parts that will replace our drop in replacements as designed, or product architecture, the best way to make that component, though, is probably to make it and all the adjacent parts at the same time. And then we're eliminating all of those discrete manufacturing steps plus the assembly costs. And we have some great examples of that, that we've been able to do with customers. But sometimes you don't have that latitude with, with customers, particularly around some of the products that have longer product life cycles, and you aren't able to change as fast. It's one of the reasons that working with a consumer product space, consumer electronics, is really where we started because we're able to change the product architecture much faster there and and look at part consolidation and, and in deviations that if we were talking about a vehicle would take much longer, and then in parallel to that, certainly have been working with the, you know, the the vehicle industries for the different qualification steps that are that are necessary there. But understanding that we're primarily looking at dropping replacement parts in those spaces. With regard to your size question now, you know, in a large multi cavity tool, we can make a bunch of small parts, you know, really fast, you know, parallel process. You know, I think everybody's seeing large multi-cavity tools running out parts, you know, we can just run out parts that are you know, stronger than titanium and a whole lot lighter. So, so we can make a lot of very valuable high-performance, small parts. And then for products that have larger architectures, consolidating the assembly, that might actually be an assembly line of steps, in those situations frequently, consolidating all those steps, even though it might be a large and complex part that's getting made one off, that that frequently can really move the needle in some of those more complex product architectures. So different different strategies for different part classes.

JS: Okay, so I'm wondering from a customer point of view, how do you how do you find applications that are good fit for what you're doing? Do you have customers that come to you who've sort of exhausted a variety of options and feel like they're kind of at their wit's end and they're hoping you can solve their problem or are you actively looking for applications that are a good fit? And maybe the answer is both.

EE: Yeah, it's a lot more of customers that are looking at composites, for many of our customers we're replacing metal. You know, we certainly look at, you know, applications, or we might replace composites. And we have some, some examples of that. But really, this is the larger batch of customers are replacing metal. So, they, they're making what they're making based on what they have. So, you know, there is these all the rules of design for manufacturing, that are responsible for the legacy of production methods that everyone is using for for their product. So we work with, you know, many Fortune 100 companies that have very sophisticated refined ways of making what they make with existing metal forming technologies, and it's very refined and sophisticated. We introduce the possibility of using the composites, being able to achieve shapes, and in production rates that haven't been associated with composites when they've investigated it in the past, which opens up this the the kind of fun conversation, which is, you know, where to start. So we have a lot more, where-should-we-start conversations than we do this is my problem that can be uniquely solved by you conversations. And those that those were to start conversations are frequently looking at, where can we unlock a significant competitive advantage based on this product? You know, what, what functional requirements? Should it be smaller? We want to make it a different shape, you know, is it antenna windows or, you know, some kind of embedded electronics or thermal solutions or just, you know, purely a strength thing?And then, and then, you know, what is the value of that, in terms of that product to the customer. And then usually we're trying to find something that really moves the needle on, on the desirability to their end customers.

JS: You just mentioned a few applications and electronics, you also talked generally about automotive and aerospace, I'm wondering if you could just give us some general examples of, of automotive or aerospace applications where this process is a good fit.

EE: Sure, so in automotive and aerospace there are many structural brackets that are more complex in nature, and haven't seen is as much composite innovation, as many of the, you know, bigger, flatter 2D, 2.5 D shapes. So, metal 3D printing, for instance, has really popularized some of the topology-optimized brackets and shapes that that are possible to manufacture with those methods. And I think the 3D printing space has also helped precipitate some great software to enable the design on the customer side, on the OEM side too, to really take applications into their own hands. So, many of those structural brackets really are the ideal shape. And our ability to align fibers through that 3D structure running along the load paths of the part has been able to save substantial weight over over the metal 3D printing and be very cost competitive. And, you know, those have been somewhere between like 50 to 80%, weight savings and some of those applications over the 3D printed metal. So, the, you know, while aerospace is is an exciting place to talk about this, because there has been so much focus there, for us, it's exciting the possibility of achieving the lower cost thresholds that are required for automotive, but they could benefit from all of these same topology-optimized approaches to some of the structures that they make. And automotive in particular is a place where there are lots of stamped pieces that are assembled into complex shapes, through assemblies. Any one of those parts is is very low in cost. But when you look at that overall assembly and welding everything together, that's that's where it starts to get very interesting and where the more integrated approach to the product architecture becomes very interesting. And automotive is also in in interesting space where, you know, utilization is going up. You know, models are changing. Obviously, there's electric and autonomous and a lot of change in product architecture. And with utilization going up, where automotive is following a bit of a path where aerospace has followed a path with total utilization, total cost of ownership becoming more and more important on some of these next-generation vehicles, and really favors these lightweight architectures. So, so long-winded answer to, to the question of aero versus auto, but you know, the long and the short of it is, there are some some good drop-in replacements. But some of the most exciting things that we're looking at are few years off on the horizon in auto.

JS: And to be clear, you're providing part and structure manufacturing or services, you're not actually selling this technology, is that correct?

EE: For the consumer product space, we do the manufacturing directly. For other industries I'll touch on separately, though, the primary reason we took on the part production for consumer products is the really its the way this space works now for you know, enclosures structures. Our customers are looking to have them delivered to a factory for final assembly. And we we have the production capacity to meet those requirements. For the more regulated production industries, we have a variety of production partners that we've been talking to about bringing resources online in the 2022 timeframe. But we're doing all the proof-of-concept work with those customers today out of our facility, okay.

JS: You're throwing out dates that are a couple years in the future, I assume this means that you have some stable financing to get you through this wind-up period, I guess.

EE: For consumer products, we're shipping production parts today. So, while the more regulated industries, going through the different qualification hurdles that are required there and scaling up production based on the production environment requirements, that is a little bit longer term endeavor. But we have a very active NPI facility here in California, where we collaborate with customers. We really are a bit of a design and manufacturing company at this point where we're working very closely with them to take advantage of what's possible. We've got advanced simulation capability in-house to help our customers really achieved the functional requirements that they have. And while there's a lot of NPI work going on, we are shipping production parts to customers that are being built out into their products and, and shipped to their end customers at this point. So, we do have a great relationship with our venture capital firm, but we are well on the way to profitability as well.

JS: You mentioned NPI. What does that stand for?

EE: Oh, new product introduction. So, in the consumer product space it's pretty common to have a quicker turn, new product introduction facility, where you can rapidly iterate on and meet customer requirements, and then have your mass-production facility where you're where you're running your really efficiently in production.

JS: I want to go back in time a little bit. I know you previously worked at a Arevo, which is also based in California, and is one of one of the originators of the use of continuous fibers in additive manufacturing. I'm wondering what your work at Arevo was, and how did that inform what you've done an Arris, or did it?

EE: Yeah, yeah, certainly. It was. It was it was very formative. I I met the Arevo co founders, Hemant, Wiener, Kunal and Riley in 2014 when it's really the pinnacle of the 3D printing stocks and probably the overzealous expectations, and it was also when there was a lot of emphasis on on metal 3D printing, and the way in which Arevo, they'd actually just named based on the phrase 'a revolution' was was looking to use aligned fiber, and combine that with 3D printing, and all the benefits of 3D printing, to take advantage of what everybody that would listen to something like this knows that the composites are pretty amazing. And when you have all the benefits of 3D printing and the benefits of composites, it's a, it's an exciting prospect, plus the the real focus on the very high performance space kind of extended the the possibilities. So yeah, I mean, it was it was very exciting, working, working with that team in those early days. I did a lot of the application development there, and did a lot of the customer collaborations. And I think that time is what really cemented my conviction about the possibility of, of these materials. And ultimately, as we kind of started the story, I really set out with Arris to look at how we can make them accessible to everyone, how, how do we take advantage of the very efficient high-volume production methods, but get those aligned fiber capabilities into a manufacturing method so these these materials can really be broadly applied?

JS: Alright, Ethan, I know that you were a founder of Arris, but you are not the only founder, and that you worked with others to establish the company. I'm wondering if you could just tell me a little bit about who you worked with to start the company and what motivated you.

EE: Sure. So, Eric Davidson and Riley Reese were critical at the founding of the company and continue to be going on almost four years. So Riley, always having worked with him, over the years, had been the person that I knew would would validate the materials and the material properties and the composite character of the parts that I was making. So he was the first person I reached out to look into that, to validate that, to think through, think through the path to scaling at. And Eric, I actually met through a mutual acquaintance in mid-2017. And Eric had a very unique background in that very strong mechanical, but also had the composite materials, and his ability to take many of the benchtop tests and develop the precision mechanisms to enable taking R&D lab work, to really the accuracy and level of precision that's necessary to make excellent parts. And really do it single-handedly — somebody that is as comfortable behind a computer as he is behind the CNC machine, made him really an incredible member of the team in scaling the early development into a robust method that that then we went on to to scale in the years to come.

JS: I want to go back even further in time. I noticed that you graduated the mid-90s from the University of Vermont with a degree in geology. And it's, I think it's fair to say this is not a typical education for a composites engineer. Although maybe it's more typical than we realize. We're just wondering how you got from that point to this point and got into composites in the first place?

EE: Yeah, I think actually, it's worth doing the quick digression that it might actually be a typical background because we need more composites engineers. If you're listening to this and trying to decide what to do academically get get some mechanical expereience in composite materials, there will be a lot of work for you. But that aside yeah. Geology's actually kind of funny. I started in engineering and was taking my science requirements. And really the science, the scientific method, is kind of what grabbed me away from engineering. And composites, I guess, in retrospect, are not terribly dissimilar to to composites. So I can't say there was any divine inspiration. You know, the fabric of the earth, the defaults, the failure propagation points, the lamination, the delamination. It is kind of comically similar. But yeah, I guess, a bit of a circuitous path, but but the the science really led me to the R&D is what I really liked in the applications development space that I worked in doing a lot of biz dev and application development. And I do think that what maybe took me away from the traditional engineering a bit was some of the creativity in the sciences, and, you know, I think both are incredibly important. Obviously, we need people refining processes, but we also need the creativity to think of how to use you know, new methods in, in the different, you know, product spaces that typically just progress incrementally. And having technical creatives technical incrementalists are all are all very, very healthy areas. And, and yeah, I guess it kind of underscores that, you know, you hear things about education today where many people won't be doing what they what they did in school, I guess I'm a pretty good example of that.

JS: Where or how were you first exposed to composite materials and manufacturing?

EE: So, I was first exposed in actually the late 80s. My first job was working at a Specialized bike shop. And we were a reseller, and I remember the first DuPont tri-spoke wheel coming in. And the first metal matrix frame it was, you know, Specialized had this innovate or die. And this, this was kind of the renaissance of, they had some really neat innovations during that time. So that that experience in the bike shop is what, what led me to start my education in engineering. I didn't come back to composites until I was working on an R&D project in probably about 2012, where I worked on some initial development on a composite component for what went into a big iconic consumer product that really turned me on to the possibilities of just how important one really little piece of material can be for a product. That that was, I guess, a couple years before I discovered Arevo and then Arevo is where I really extended that and learned quite a bit about the aligned aligned composites and aligned continuous composites.

JS: And I'm assuming you can't tell us what that big iconic consumer product was.

EE: Correct.

JS: Not surprised. I want to talk a little bit more about additive manufacturing. And I know that what you're doing right now is is a little bit outside of what we what the world typically considers additive manufacturing, but I think you can still speak to it. The additive manufacturing landscape, I think is pretty broad and varied in terms of materials, and especially when you start talking about discontinuous, or continuous fibers. Just wondering what your assessment is today of the additive manufacturing landscape and what do you see as the biggest opportunities and the biggest barriers?

EE: So I guess I will focus a little bit on on composites and in that. I think if you look at that, and metals and plastics are such they're such different spaces, and I think it's worth kind of pausing for a secon that as these technologies mature, you know, there are different tools for different jobs. And I think everybody is starting to see this settle out. And perhaps a little bit more rational expectations of what any one tool might used for. If we look at really the the composites space, I think recyclability is certainly at the top of the list, if we are going to, if we are going to really be broadly applied, there has to be some sensible energy flow thought given to this from the, you know, everything from the chemistry to the processing of the material that actually affects the economics and whether you can even be used to begin with, to to end of life and, and then, obviously, recyclability. You know, this this whole cycle is why many of the other more efficient, mature legacy technologies exist and have have the hole that they do want industries, because it's not just winning an application, but total lifecycle. I think one of the other big ones that we took we talked about is the education piece. For moving industries forward for adopting new things you need, you need smart people that have good educations with good backgrounds, too. And the right tools to use the right things in the right place. So I think I think those are, those are two of the biggest challenges that that that I I see.

JS: You mentioned recycling, I'm wondering, do you hear specifically from your customers about the need to be recycled? Or recyclability? How big of a concern is that to the to the folks you work with and serve?

EE: The bigger the bigger the application, the more important that whole total total energy assessment becomes the overall economics of the whole lifecycle. The smaller the application, the you know, perhaps the less of a conversation, it is, if we're just generalizing. But many of our customers are very actively working with us and the materials companies to, to to drive improvement in all of those areas. There is a really healthy demand from the public at this point. And I think there is, you know, the research is in that, you know, you can do many of these things cost effectively, and particularly around resin systems, where many of them are improving performance significantly, with cleaner chemistries. They're indicating that we're moving in a good direction. Obviously, the speed at which these can be picked up really depends on a lot of things, like, you know, is it a very demanding industrial application or aerospace? You know, versus is it somebody's cell phone? Right. So, there's, there's, there's a lot, a lot of a lot of play in the, in in that in those decisions. But I think the overall sentiment from from the consumer product space is is is that they're really trying to go quickly in that direction.

JS: You mentioned education. We joked about it a little bit earlier. But I'd like to revisit this. My understanding — and this has been true for the last few years — is that the colleges, as you know, universities, maybe even globally, don't produce enough engineers who are familiar with composite materials and processes. I'm sure that's changing — I know that's changing — but there's still great demand within the industry for well-educated engineers who understand the materials and processes but barring that, if that is, if that is not always possible. I'm wondering what kind of traits you look for in an engineer. Aside from the, you know, sort of the nuts and bolts of engineering, I'm wondering what kind of traits you find are most helpful or beneficial in a composites manufacturing environment that that maybe aren't as sought after or as needed and other disciplines if there is in fact a difference?

EE: You know, there are such different roles in a in, in, you know, I just look at one end of the company to the other and the roles can differ so much that, you know, you need the very different personalities that might come with any specific discipline. You know, we need the very incremental methodic process developer that has, you know, really been, you know, some of the most important personalities in qualifying many of the critical applications that composites are used for today. You know, we also need some of the, you know creatives that have been attracted more to the newest flashiest things that come along to do the 3D-printed and new product architectures. And, and while you do need those, kind of, if I'm trying to stereotype two ends of the spectrum, you also need these technical program managers that have some some really solid technical backgrounds, whether it's mechanical engineering or material science, but also have a high degree of organizational sensibility. Making any change is, is maybe 80% people 20% technical. So, you know, we work with some amazing intrapreneurs, within big companies that, you know, we'd be lost without, without those really, really excellent communicators that have great technical backgrounds. Ultimately, if there is kind of one common thread, really just being able to effectively communicate, you know, wherever you fall on that spectrum, with the rest of that spectrum, is kind of one of the most common denominators among them all, though.

JS: And when you say effective communication, what does that mean to you?

EE: Yeah, that that's, that's a good question. You know, communications is, I've heard a definition that I won't do quite right that I like, it's 'communication is the meaning that the person receives.' I guess I would define it that way. However, you can use words or documents, or Slack, or email, or text, whatever it takes, if you can get the person that you're trying to get a message across to the meaning that is going to enable them to take what you have learned and build on it, then you're a great communicator.

JS: So taking what's in your head and your ideas and putting them in a format that allows other people to readily accept it and adapt it.

EE: Yeah, making information actionable. That's one of the one of the big ones. There's, you know, it's the classic challenge of big company innovation, you know, there's so much great information in so many places, and if there's only somebody that could put those pieces together, there's lots of innovation that could occur. So, you know, the classic idea that I think that we think of when we think of communication might be closest to that project manager or program manager that I was talking about, who can pull everyone into a room and, you know, extract the best out of each individual and synthesize it all and, and lead the conversation and come out with some, some real kernels of value in this, this mastermind. But but I think it's, it's a lot more than that, you know, it's each one of the people around the table, that can take whatever it is that they have unique insights into based on their experience, or, or discipline and, and encapsulate that and that is as simple away as possible for the rest of the room to do you know, have an aha moment and understand how that might color their perceptions of everything else that they're working on.

JS: So that leads me to my next question. As you look over the next few years, how do you hope and expect that Arris will evolve and grow and what are your what are your goals and aspirations for the company?

EE: So we have really a focus on helping the customers that we're working with make these these previously unimaginable products. And our focus is helping them get big wins in their markets. We're very customer-centric in that respect, you know, their wins are our wins. So, as a result, we have a kind of daunting production pipeline that has a really a significant amount of scaling of our production capabilities that we're working on in the coming few years. So what we're really focused on is helping the customers get these products to market. Beyond that, though, the, you know, the new product architectures I think, are where the most exciting possibilities are for us. We talked about part consolidation, you know, the ability to put different materials into a single part and achieve not just shapes but part performance, it wasn't possible because you have this continuous fiber backbone, but you might have, you know, metal or ceramic or other materials that enable functionality that's, you know, typically beyond beyond composites. These areas, these products that typically aren't thought of as composite components or something consistent with a composite application is really when we look ahead is looking at ourselves as less of just a composite-specific company, but more of a product manufacturing platform that really can achieve the functions that a customer product requires. Just putting the best material in the best place with the continuous fiber composites just as the ideal backbone to hold it all together.

JS: You mentioned earlier, additional facilities and locations, what's your thinking there?

EE: So, our customers assemble their products in different places. So, we need to be able to deliver products based on their supply chain requirements. So that for for aerospace and consumer electronics and automotive looks very different. So we're working closely with our customers to make sure that we are consistent with their supply chain requirements and what's practical for high volume production.

JS: Ethan, I want to talk briefly about a paper that Arris presented at CAMX 2020, which occurred recently. This is of course, the virtual CAMX this year. The paper's title is 'The convergence of composites and topology optimization ushering in the next era of aircraft lightweight structures.' And I'll will post this paper with this interview so that our listeners can access it. But the paper basically describes work that Arris did with Northrop Grumman to take a metallic bracket and redesign it and optimize it for manufacture using the Arris Additive Molding process. And I'm wondering what you see as the implications for this and what it might mean for arrows going forward?

EE: Sure, so in the paper, we're equaling the stiffness of the 3D printed titanium at an 80% weight savings. And as I'm sure many listeners know, in any aircraft, you might have hundreds of brackets. So reducing this much weight really speaks to the ability to put these continuous composites into complex shapes. And this really clearly illustrates where the commercial value exists for aircraft manufacturers and owners. Obviously, as we we talked about earlier as well, brackets are not unique to aerospace, just the value of weight savings is is so extremely high in aerospace. It's where a lot of the innovation in a lot of shapes has started. So it is also quite exciting how that can be applied to all kinds of other structures and vehicles where energy efficiency would be beneficial by reducing weight.

JS: All right, Ethan, just a quick follow up to that. Do you expect this particular bracket that you developed with Northrop Grumman to to come to market and to be commercialized? Or is this just a demonstrate capability of your technology for the marketplace?

EE: Sure, well, I can't speak specifically to the Northrop Grumman bracket, brackets in general are a major application for us as our really new ability to run continuous column composites through complex 3D shapes really enables many of these bracket designs that have been pioneered by the 3D printing and metal 3D printing industry and using these higher stiffness-to-weight ratio materials that save weight in aerospace. And then using a scalable molding technology enables us to not only save weight in aerospace but also scale them for for use in automotive and other applications where there's more cost sensitivity.

JS: Alright, Ethan. Well, it's it's an interesting story and obviously a lot, a lot more to be told. So I wish you luck with Arris and hope that all goes well for you over the next few years. And I appreciate you speaking with me today here on CW talks.

EE: Yeah, my My pleasure. Great to great to connect, Jeff.

JS: Again, many thanks to my guest today Ethan Escowitz, co-founder and CEO of Arris composites. If you want to find out more about Arris, please visit arriscomposites.com. That's a-r-r-i-s-composites.com.

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