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Virginia Palacios
Virginia Palacios
Chief Business Officer for the Polymer Business at EOS

People of 3D Printing: Virginia Palacios

Who is Virginia Palacios?

Virginia Palacios is Chief Business Officer for the Polymer Business at EOS, and a strong and passionate global leader with experience across business functions, geographies, and product-customer segments. Naturally driven by customer-centric innovation, has led multiple international, diverse teams to solve customer problems and drive the adoption of new technologies. 

Currently based in Barcelona, travels frequently to Munich and has lived in China and Singapore and travels frequently worldwide.

Can you share a bit about your background and how you got involved in the 3D printing industry?

Worked for 23 years at HP, starting in the Large Format Printer and other Business  for about 15 years. When HP started to develop their first powder-based 3D printer in 2014, the “4200 series”, they were looking for somebody with entrepreneurship skills to bring the customer feedback during development and define the requirements for the   product. This was the beginning of  the last 8 years of my career with HP where I had different positions leading the Application Engineers worldwide , Doing Product Management and Incubation…. 

Generally, I’ve always been the “voice of the customer” both in 3D printing or in Large Format.

Interestingly , in the last few years, I have also observed that both industries went in a comparable direction, from being a very “technology-driven” industry to a more “customer-driven” one. 

How have you seen the 3D printing industry evolve over the years, and what trends do you anticipate in the near future?

Initially, additive manufacturing (AM) was mainly used for prototyping, but today, customers are expecting to be able to make real final products with our technology. Customers have made a move in their requirements towards more  homogeneity. They expect repeatability and reliability, being able to have a factory running 24×7 that meets all the required regulations. For example, the first industries that adopted AM were the medical and aerospace sectors, with a very elaborate regulation frame implemented. 

We see more and more polymer conventional manufacturers also getting fleets of 3d printers, so they expect to have comparable parts as injection molding or other conventional manufacturing methods parts. 

On our side, this is usually achieved with improvement in the process control and better monitoring of the process environment, as well as a close loop control of the quality of the system. Several parameters on the machines to control the process window and achieve this level of quality are  offered to the customers.

Another trend I see is the need for collaboration between players in this industry. We, machine manufacturers, postprocess equipment manufacturers, automation, material providers, service providers, and all industries in our ecosystem need to increase cooperation to improve the adoption of our technologies and make better parts faster and more reliably while achieving the cost targets . 

Last but not least, we have big expectations for the software, where we see some of the most substantial potential in the years to come. To improve production flexibility, to remotely monitor the fleet of printers, to increase efficiency (with the packing algorithm), and to better monitor quality, the software will play a central role.

How important are collaborations and partnerships in the 3D printing industry, and can you share some examples of successful collaborations your company has engaged in?

It’s definitely critical to collaborate more!

In the past, the collaboration was mainly between machine and material manufacturers, but now we are also integrating more service providers, companies offering post-processing, and software. A good example is the “AM I navigator,” which is this initiative to address and provide guidance on the different stages of industrializing 3D printing. It includes people from the software side (Siemens), machine manufacturers (HP / EOS), material manufacturers (Forward AM), as well as post-processing (DyeMansion). Other partners will join too.

We also collaborate with service providers when we realize that specific customers need more volumes to acquire a complete system and the service provider can be a good bridge, and this is usually also a very virtuous circle.

How does your company approach international markets, and what considerations are crucial for success on a global scale in the 3D printing industry?

Being close to the different markets is fundamental to be able to develop the right solution offering for each. This is why our worldwide sales and services team are constantly giving feedback to the EOS development teams so we can design the best solutions. It’s critical to understand this technology’s requirements from  legal and local usage. For example, in Germany, it’s pretty expensive to have 2 shifts in your production facility, unlike in China. In this circumstance, it’s more relevant to offer automated fleet management in a country like Germany than in China. 

The main industries also vary by country and region and we need to be close to that.There are also some quite specific regulations in each country (FDA, aerospace regulation) that we need to analyze very closely.

What advice would you give to someone aspiring to become a leader in the 3D printing industry?

A lot of resilience!
It’s not an easy industry, but it’s a game-changing one. It might really change the world for the better. They need to believe in the long-term promise, with a long-term vision of all the benefits this technology can bring to people’s lives.
I would also advise to be flexible, open and customer-focused. 

A last word ?

This industry can change the world! It’s really worth embracing a career in the industry for whoever is passionate about it and driven by the purpose of discovering all the new applications that will make the world a slightly better place!

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