At Questek, Jeff Grabowski plays a pivotal role in spearheading the company’s mission to enable digital transformation of materials design. As director of business development, he is actively shaping and executing QuesTek’s cutting-edge strategies in close collaboration with the world’s foremost innovative materials producers and material end-users.
Jeff recently appeared on 3Degrees Discussions, a weekly podcast hosted by Mike Vazquez that focuses on the 3D printing industry and its leaders, where he talked about his role at QuesTek, shared some insights about the company and contemplated the future of the industry. Below are highlights from the discussion.
“We were basically founded on this premise of being able to design new materials, achieving targeted properties that are defined by the client. A predominant revenue source for us, percentage wise, is government funding, and they tend to fund really high risk research like ‘Hey, could you design a niobium alloy for next gen turbine blades that could achieve these properties?’ and we’ll work with an OEM and work on a program like that. It’s really high risk, but it’s high reward if you’re successful.”
“In the last 18 months or so we’ve been really focused on developing a software that will allow industry or government clients to subscribe and do all this modeling and design themselves in-house. We just released ICMD® in July, so it’s about a month old, and it builds upon 25 years of programs where we’ve been able to calibrate and find-tune models, build our own databases of properties of the elements and integrate everything in a very user-friendly way. We’re seeing a lot of interest in it from alloy producers and OEMs, as well as the government.”
On how QuesTek designs and tests novel materials
“We brought a few materials to market from basically technology readiness level zero — from concept, to prove out at lab scale and then commercialization and flight. We have a suite of Ferrium® steels that are licensed to Carpenter Technology and they’re flying on a number of landing gear components, space components, high-performance racing Formula One. But we have in-house capability to make, kind of quarter-sized prototype material and we work across all material systems, like aluminum, titanium, cobalt copper, nickel steel, and refractory alloys like niobium, moly and tungsten.”
On the evolution of additive manufacturing technology
“There’s a huge appetite and a huge technical interest in new materials that perform better. But then when it really comes down to it, it could take hundreds of thousands of dollars to make some powder and do some prints and test it, and that’s only static mechanical properties. Well, what about corrosion? What about fatigue? There’s this extreme interest, but then when it comes down to it, there’s this apprehension to do anything with it. And then there’s the cost aspect. I’m interested to see where binder jet might go. I know that the cost justification for binder jet is a lot better than for laser powder bed fusion, for example. There’s some new vendors coming out like JEOL with e-beam, and powder blown technologies.”
Listen to the full interview here: