Akshay Ballal — On 3D Printing and Automation, Achieving Stretch Goals, Scratching Your Own Itch, Taking India Global, and more

Home Podcast Akshay Ballal — On 3D Printing and Automation, Achieving Stretch Goals, Scratching Your Own Itch, Taking India Global, and more

Akshay Ballal — On 3D Printing and Automation, Achieving Stretch Goals, Scratching Your Own Itch, Taking India Global, and more

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Akshay is the Chief Product Officer at Fabheads Automation, a startup that automates manufacturing by building 3D printers for fabricating composite products, and is developing automation equipment for manufacturing high-end carbon fiber parts.
 
Fabheads Automation was founded in 2015 and is currently valued at close to $10 million. The company’s primary focus areas presently are the Aerospace, Automobile, and Biomedical sectors.
 
I first heard about the startup a few months ago on the news when they were featured and interviewed for winning a defense development project for the Indian Air Force. As a part of this, Fabheads will design and develop carbon fiber helicopter blades for the Indian Air Force. Almost 50% of the IAF helicopters use metal blades that need to be replaced after 2000 hours, while the blades FabHeads is currently developing will last for a minimum of 8000 hours and reduce maintenance cost by at least 30%, which is a remarkable development and innovation.
 
Akshay’s journey, in particular, is inspiring because he started off as an intern at Fabheads as an intern in 2017 but became the Chief Product Officer in 2019. He’s also passionate about automobiles and robotics, but there’s almost nothing you can find about him on the internet. In this episode, we discover more about the person behind the achievements.

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Shownotes

Akshay on LinkedIn
Stratasys
Fused Deposition Modeling
Josef Průša
Internshala
IIT Madras Research Park & Incubation Cell
Avishkar Hyperloop, IIT Madras, at Hyperloop Pod Competition
To Engineer is Human by Henry Petroski
Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance
Liftoff by Eric Burger

What did you think of the episode? I would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter.

Episode Highlights

(02:54) What is 3-D Printing? Its history and its future.
(06:10) Why 3-D Printing is slow to gain traction with the masses.
(07:28) What makes 3-D Printing superior as a  rapid prototyping technology to CNC and other options.
(11:00) The difference in skills human beings need for 3-D Printing and CNC tooling.
(16:50) Why Akshay chose FabHeads for his internship and the prototype he built during that time.
(20:40) What led to his decision to join FabHeads full-time after engineering despite having offers from established companies?
(24:22) From a mechanical design engineer to the Chief Product Officer in two years—Akshay’s journey.
(26:55) The lessons he learned during the transition from an individual contributor to a manager and leader.
(28:11) His most important lesson: Show the Product. [How they raced against time to build an MVP to display at an exhibition, and how that led to a windfall of business.]
(31:00) His team’s approach towards building the prototype in 20 days.
(35:00) The three aspects that keep people inspired at FabHeads.
(35:29) The work they did with Avishkar for the Hyperloop competition.
(38:37) The work they’re doing in the Indian defense sector.
(39:49) The advanced cognitive skills and mindset that helped Akshay grow in his career.
(45:00) Akshay’s book recommendations.
(48:08) Akshay’s advice for his just-out-of-college self.

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