3D printing experts explain benefits and challenges of getting started in 3D printing at DigiFab Conference

digifab logo3D Printing stories may be in the news on a daily basis, but manufacturers, teachers, librarians, innovators, business owners and school administrators all ask me the same 2 questions:

1. How does 3D Printing actually work?

2. How do I get started in 3D Printing?

3D Printing industry experts will answer these 2 basic questions at the DigiFab Conference at the University of Southern Maine in Portland on November 1.  Organized by the Maine Chapter of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in collaboration with the USM College of Science, Technology and Health, DigiFab will explore all things related to Digital Fabrication with emphasis on 3D Printing.

Buddy Byrum

Buddy Byrum

Chapter Chairperson, Joe Rizzo says, “SME is especially excited by the world-class speakers who are coming to Portland which is just about 1-1/2 hours north of Boston.  Our keynotes from 3D Systems Corporation and MIT’s FabLab will give the manufacturing and education tracks a great kick-off.”

Keynotes will be delivered by Buddy Byrum, Vice President of Product & Channel Management at 3D Systems Corporation and Sherry Lassiter, who serves as the Program Manager of the MIT Center for Bits and Atoms and Director of Fab Foundation.  They will discuss success to date in Digital Fabrication and the implications for the future of education, industries, economies and communities. Ms. Lassiter’s talk is sponsored by the Perloff Foundation.

I’m especially excited to hear some special women speakers.  Kegan Fisher is the founder and CEO of 3D Printing manufacturing start up Sols.  Plus she is the former Director of Industrial Engineering and Director of Operations at Shapeways in New York.  Designing the Factory of the Future is her specialty and Shapeway’s ability to ship 3D Printed parts to customers who send in their designs is a testament to her work there.

kegan fisher

Kegan fFsher

Sallye Coyle is a dynamo who works in Community Outreach for ShopBot.  As part of 100kGarages, she has helped artists, schools, corporations and even the US Forest Service use digital fabrication to bring creations to life.  A glass artist herself, Sallye will be talking about using a new ShopBot open source platform in distributed manufacturing models.

MC2STEM High School in Cleveland is perhaps best known for its MIT-style FabLab helping young, homeless David Boone go from the streets of Cleveland to majoring in engineering at Harvard.  Andrea Lane is another MC2 success story, graduating and going on to study engineering in college and serving as a FedEd Fellow at the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM.  She will be speaking on MC2’s integration of the school’s total curriculum including subjects such as history and English into the FabLab model.

In addition, Sol Menashi will share one of the powerful aspects of 3D Printing and digital fabrication for communities:  helping create start-ups. Sol works at The Possible Project, an after-school entrepreneurship program in Cambridge, MA, where he has been leading the effort to start a new “makerspace” to teach “at-risk” students the latest manufacturing technologies.  Plus there are talks by John Belding, Director of the University of Maine Advanced Manufacturing Center, and Gregory Cavanaugh, USM’s Assistant Director of Experiential Education.

Sherry Lassiter

Sherry Lassiter

Attendees will also be able to see equipment from ShopBot, MCor, Cubify and other manufacturers live in the Vendor section.  Digital Fabrication service providers such as Potomac Photonics will also be displaying objects they’ve fabricated for a variety of industries.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of attending DigiFab is talking with actual users about the pitfalls of 3D Printing – something that you won’t find in all the usual hype!