We are all faced with the question “so, what do you do?” I often think that for most people that’s an easy question to answer. I’m a banker, or a fireman, or a teacher. No explanation required. But when I meet new people at my son’s afterschool sporting events or at a social party and I know I’ll be faced with that question, I start thinking about my answer. I usually start out by saying that the company I work for designs, manufactures and sell 3D printers. The typical response I get from that “OK – sure” as if they know exactly what 3D printing is. This response is usually followed up by a confused look that signals me to start explaining…
Imagine starting with a virtual 3D object, one that can be rotated on your computer screen like a video game character or a model car. Most people I talk to have seen the old Lee Iacocca commercial where he showed off the Chrysler Motors design center and how they design cars using 3D software (Catia I believe). Now, imagine taking that model and slicing a very thin layer off the bottom. Looking down on that layer you could print what you see on any home or office inkjet color printer. So, now imagine that you place a second piece of paper on top of the first and print the next layer from the model. Continue this process until you have sliced and printed each layer of the model all the way to the top. You now have a stack of paper the height of the virtual model. If everyplace that was printed on within and between layers became bound together and everything that was not printed on just fell apart, you would have a print out of a 3D model. By replacing the paper with a thin layer of powder we are able to do just that.
Of course there is more to it than that and there are different technologies that might work a bit differently but I think the way I describe it helps people unfamiliar with 3DP to at least have a basic understanding of the technology. What do you think? Are people just nodding their heads at me to be polite or does my explanation make sense?
What other 3DP processes are you familiar with and how would you describe it?
And – do you have an occupation that is hard to explain what you do? What is it and how do you explain it?
I am responsible for leading 3D Systems content creation and capture activities and, in partnership with business and functional leaders, developing new opportunities for the company. I have held a variety of leadership positions in marketing and business development and most recently ran a $150MM division of Church & Dwight, a leading consumer goods company. Prior to receiving my M.B.A from Harvard Business School, I was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal company commander for the U.S. Army. I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.
- ► 2011 (54)