Alroy Almeida: Rapidly Scaling Technology Company That Has Been Driving Change in the Additive Electronics Industry

September 26, 2022

Founded in 2013, Voltera is a rapidly scaling technology company that has been driving change in the additive electronics industry by making PCB prototyping easier.

We make tools for every electronics project — whether it’s teaching students the fundamentals of electronics, enabling product developers to design today’s innovative solutions, or providing a platform for researchers to explore the materials and methods of the future.

We enable iteration and innovation — quickly — on the desks and in the labs of organizations all over the globe.

We’re proud to be a Canadian company. Not only are we headquartered in Kitchener, Ontario, but all our products are built and shipped from there too.

Tell us about yourself?

I studied Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo. Prior to Voltera, my professional experience was in product design and testing, mainly in industrial electronics but also in medical devices.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I gained a lot of soft skills I still use today from business and entrepreneurial groups, student government, and public speaking competitions starting all the way back in elementary school.

Early in my career, I tried to get exposed to both mechanical and electrical design and the latter is what captured my fascination. That said, trying to quickly iterate electronics designs often felt like an impossible task which is what eventually led to Voltera.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Over the last few years, barely a week has passed without the news forecasting some new crisis. It is hard to stay positive and hard to know where to focus.

During these times I’ve had to keep reminding myself to drown out the noise, focus on our customers, and provide as much clarity for our team as I can.

What problem does your business solve?

My business partners and I worked in hardware-related fields and faced the problem of long lead times and difficult design iteration processes.

At that time, nearly 10 years ago, desktop 3D printing was all the rage and we hoped for a similar tool to help us in our work.

What began as our own proof-of-concept quickly turned into a product, the V-One PCB printer, that is now being used by thousands of people around the world.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Interviewing many of our customers has opened us up to new groups of people that we didn’t expect to sell to; people that are creating uncommon and exciting forms of electronics.

The electronics industry has been trying to miniaturize circuit boards for decades but, ultimately, the form factor of these boards still informs the form factor of the device they power.

What inspires us? Well, if electronics could flex, curve, or stretch, that flips that script and opens up design possibilities that are out of reach today.

Voltera is at the forefront of unlocking these possibilities for our customers, and our product release (coming fall 2022) will do just that.

What is your magic sauce?

Our customers are our superpower. By nature of the comparatively low price point of the V-One, we have more users than many others in our space. This helps us succeed for two reasons:

1. We have a very solid understanding of what the industry needs now and what it will need in the future. By having thousands of customers all over the world in dozens of industries at companies of all sizes, we are able to collect a tremendous amount of feedback about their challenges and the direction of the market.

2. Additive manufacturing of electronics is still a niche practice, but demand continues to grow as more designers begin to understand the many benefits and possibilities of this manufacturing process. We’ve already introduced electronics engineers around the world to the concept of printing circuit boards with conductive inks. Now more than ever, we’re positioned to introduce what the future holds for this technology.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We’re laser-focused on showcasing the cutting-edge research and products developed on our new platform, publicly launching this fall, and we’ll bring that technology to traditional electronics engineers who currently have very little exposure to the form factors of electronics you can create with an additive manufacturing process.

In the next five years, Voltera will put new tools in the toolbox of hardware developers and researchers; tools that will unleash a wave of design creativity from our customers.

This will impact the medical devices we use, the vehicles and planes we travel in, the clothes we wear, how we explore space, how we collect and store energy, and so much more.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Like many businesses, the pandemic posed challenge after challenge.

Not only were we worried about keeping everyone safe and healthy, but we had to navigate evolving our manufacturing business to a remote/hybrid environment. We had to balance cutting costs with continuing to invest in the company.

We had to provide direction and clarity to our team in extremely uncertain and confusing times.

Thankfully, we have a resilient team that cares deeply for each other and for what we do.

We were able to lean on each other, to give each other grace, and ultimately we were able to successfully grow the company during these tough times.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

People who have experience in any aspect of product design easily recognize the impact of what we are building. They see the value of quick experimentation, rapid iteration, and design flexibility.

For example, attending trade shows has been an exceptional tool for seeing the impact our vision has on electronics community.

There is nothing better than seeing prospective customers’ eyes light up when we explain the opportunities our products unlock for them.

If you want to have a conversation about how Voltera products can help your company or lab innovate, get in touch at [email protected].

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