I’ve got some exciting personal news: I’m joining Formlabs, a startup that makes outstanding professional 3D printers. I’ll be director of The Digital Factory, a new program that supports digital manufacturing in all its forms. The Digital Factory launched this spring as a one-day conference and a pop-up podcast, and we’re going to build it into a broad platform for engineers, designers, and anyone else who makes physical objects–from architects to dentists.
I’m deeply grateful to have worked at O’Reilly Media for five years alongside talented and insightful colleagues. My introduction to digital fabrication and hardware came through O’Reilly’s vast and generous network of experts, and O’Reilly gave me tremendous support and latitude in creating the Solid Conference in 2014. More recently, I’ve worked on O’Reilly’s data and AI programs, and have developed a practicing interest in deep learning. I’m going to stay current on AI: generative AI is a radical development in the field of design, and 3D printing is the best way to realize the exotic, precisely-tuned shapes that generative design algorithms create.
This is a special moment in the development of the 3D printing field in general and for Formlabs in particular. 3D printers have become standard tools in prototyping, where they’ve made development faster and easier, and now they’re becoming common in production. Additive manufacturing doesn’t require costly, complex tooling processes, and it can produce parts that traditional subtractive manufacturing can’t–like high-performance lattices and assemblies that work straight off the machine.
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My first project with my Form 2 printer: a flip-up privacy cover for a webcam. The hinge works straight off the 3D printer–no assembly required–and the intricate pattern on the front adds practically no fabrication time.
Formlabs has already created the world’s best-selling stereolithography printer, and it’s just announced its first selective laser sintering machine, which fabricates strong, production-quality parts in nylon. The company’s forthcoming Form Cell turns a cluster of Form 2 printers into an efficient, lights-out automated production system. Formlabs has the vision, the technical creativity, and the market position to turn additive manufacturing into a universal process.
I’m starting at Formlabs in September. In the meantime, I’m taking a month off to learn and work on some personal projects in digital fabrication, solid modeling, and AI.