Gary Miller is a 14-year veteran of the 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) industry. Until very recently, Gary was instrumental in providing 3D printing services to a wide range of companies and individuals at IPF and latterly at the 3D Print Bureau. Gary’s experience and expertise are superseded only by his ambassadorial capabilities for the industry, capabilities that have recently been snapped up by 3D printing firm Carbon. Here Gary talks to Disruptive Insight editor Rachel Park about the move, what it entails and Carbon’s place on the 3D printing industry landscape.
Rachel Park (RP): You recently announced that you are joining Carbon as their UK-based production development engineer; can you share your motivation behind the move?
Gary Miller (GM): Working within a service bureau environment has given me a broad knowledge of all the high-profile technologies. I’d been working with Carbon in a friendly advisory capacity for over three years, more recently with Phil DeSimone the co-founder and vice president (VP) of business development for Carbon. This unique perspective enabled me to better understand what direction the company were heading in.
In short, there’s a lot of press about how 3D Printing is heading towards manufacturing, Carbon’s materials now and moving forward put them in pole position for achieving the goal of production grade parts for manufacturing.
RP: Can you tell readers a little about your new role?
GM: Carbon has built out their Production Partners in the United States and will now be expanding internationally with selective partners. My new role at Carbon will be working with UK-based Production Partners, including service bureaus and contract manufacturers, as well as design firms, to help them become successful using our technology, most importantly I will be helping our Production Partners and their customers discover new production applications.
Carbon has built out their Production Partners in the United States and will now be expanding internationally with selective partners.
RP: What is the most exciting part of your new job, for you?
GM: You’ve known me for more years than either of us care to admit, and you more than most know I’ve always loved the role of educating others who show a willingness to learn how to get the best from additive technologies and the materials which are being offered. Sales has never been my thing and Carbon have given me a role where it’s a different approach to purely help educate and ensure clients get the best from the technology.
RP: How do you feel about moving from essentially being technology agnostic, as a service provider of multiple 3D printing process, to working for a vendor company?
GM: Carbon operates in a very professional manner; however, they are also an exciting and fun company to work for. The team Carbon assembled is beyond impressive, and as a team and individuals we have an opportunity to make a huge difference in how the company progresses. That’s the sort of challenge I buy into and really enjoy.
RP: Interesting that ‘production’ is in your job title considering the noticeable shift towards production with additive technologies taking place currently. Carbon is a major contributor to this progress, particularly with plastic materials; how will your role contribute to further progress?
GM: I think I can answer this question best with an example. Late in July, myself and Dana McCallum, head of Production Partners, visited numerous companies around the UK. These meetings would start with a single contact then quickly snowball upon viewing some sample parts. This meeting with a single contact quickly turns into two, three or four meetings with far more people than we could have initially hoped for. All these people quickly see how Carbon can genuinely contribute and quickly move progressing forward. It’s great fun being involved in this process, seeing people physically run to bring colleagues back so they can get an idea of what can now be achieved.
RP: What are your thoughts on the ‘Stop prototyping, start producing’ tagline that is driving Carbon’s narrative and how does the Carbon technology ecosystem support this drive?
GM: I love the promotional video this tagline first featured in. I think it’s a fair question to ask, are we suggesting you ‘stop prototyping?’ Personally, I think we’re suggesting that you don’t need to prototype in materials that mimic what the application will be manufactured in. You can now link your prototyping and manufacture together by producing them in the same material and with the same technology. So, your prototype becomes your first production part.
RP: I suspect the Futurecraft project with Adidas is just a sign of things to come from Carbon working with big OEMs on high-volume production applications; what other industry sectors is Carbon working with and are there any specific projects you can tell us about?
GM: You’re right, the work with Adidas is a sign of things to come, and we’re involved in all the industry sectors you’d expect. Carbon have a unique way of operating and it’s one of the things that impress people most when we visit. The plan is for everyone to benefit from a global collaborative effort. Cost of material has always been a big obstacle for manufacturing, but everyone combined who use our technology will help reduce this cost and Carbon will pass on this discount to all, not just the highest user but everyone using the material. That’s a fresh approach and one that shows a real team ethic.
RP: How do you see the AM industry evolving over the next few years?
GM: I see us moving further into the manufacturing sector and developing the Production Partners that climb onboard with Carbon. Sure, people will still use our technology to prototype and refine their designs, designs that they’ll create to suit our digital light synthesis (DLS) process and that understanding will give them a competitive edge. When the design is finalized, they’ll then send the data to a Production Partner to manufacture the high volume of numbers required.