Disrupting Manufacturing and Education: Bill Macy and 3D Printing

Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

EDAG Light Cocoon Car ChassisEverybody is talking about 3D printing these days, but Bill Macy has been working to bring its on-demand flexibility and mass customization to manufacturing for years for companies like McDonnell Douglas and Stratasys. As a social entrepreneur, Bill works to make sure everyone can learn to think, design, engineer and “MAKE” in 3D. Meanwhile, as a consultant, he works with small and mid-size manufacturers to bring additive manufacturing (the application of 3D Printing for manufacturing solutions) to the real world.

What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen 3D-printed?

The industry is working on biological organs—livers, kidneys, hearts— it makes for an exciting time in our society.

Is there a “killer app” for 3D printing, or have we not seen it yet?

People are starting to buy 3D printers and consumables at retail stores, getting their files from the ‘Internet of Things’, modifying and printing them out on demand at the point of use—their home. When 3D printing is considered another necessary tool in the tool box, we’ll know we’ve arrived.

What kinds of clients do you work with? What problems do you help them with?

There’s always a lag time between the adoption of new technologies and using them in production. I help clients reduce that lag time, so that they can create or maintain a competitive advantage. It is important to help small businesses, especially to find solutions that provide real returns on their investments and help them re-shore, that is, bring jobs back to the U.S.

How does Rippl3D fit into this?

I went across the nation talking about 3D printing and education. We found 3D printers sitting on school bookshelves without a project to work on after they used up their first roll of filament. We knew the world needed a way to simplify the use of 3D printing to support education. Rippl3D provides fun and relevant challenge-based activities for players, the students, to make and explore things they used to only read about in their textbooks. It lets them use the 3D printers that schools often already have to take the abstract concepts they’re learning about in the curriculum into the real world.

Who else is doing great work in 3D printing that you admire?
The pictures on this page are of an EDAG Light Cocoon Car at last year’s Geneva Auto Show – the 3D Printed chassis and the complete car, skinned and lit from inside. It’s an incredible example of where 3D Printing can take art, design and manufacturing. EDAG Light Cocoon Car SkinnedI would love one of these cars and I would bet that there a lot of people in line with me! As a consultant, I want to help companies realize these types of innovations for their products. My hope is that Rippl3D helps ensure we have the future workforce that knows how to make things like this here in the US with the technology that’s becoming available.

Where can you be found when you’re not working?

In the mountains, like a family vacation in Medicine Bow National Forest near Centennial, WY. Slice the world at 10,000 feet and that is a place I want to be, anytime in the mountains is happy time!

What’s something you just learned about that you’d like to spend more time exploring?

The pedagogy of education that I’m getting into with Rippl3D is a huge departure for me. I have always loved mentoring and coaching, but learning how our educators establish pedagogy—the method and practice of teaching—and seeing how new technologies can enhance these practices is very exciting and even more rewarding when we get it right.

What do you struggle with the most?

Confidence. Being confident enough to take risks and take the responsibility when you don’t have all the answers.

Favorite guilty pleasure?

Microbrews and great food with friends. The best are those brewed by friends, like my good friend Ray, where you get the story behind the brew too.

What books have most influenced you?

The Bible, The Purpose Driven Life, The Five Love Languages, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life and Sacrilege. The Five Love Languages opened my eyes to that we all speak different languages—my wife, kids, co-workers—and unless you can understand another’s language, you’ll struggle to hear or be heard by them.

What keeps you up at night?

The older we get as a country, the less we live like JFK’s famous call to, “Ask not what your country can do for you…” We need to give kids opportunity and a vision of working and embracing hope for where the world is going.

What’s your go-to tool for the tough stuff—those that don’t get what you’re doing and why?

In my consulting, I work clients through a process. Ultimately, it’s about their ability to embrace helpful change, not about me having a belt full of silver bullets.

When you’re gone, what do you hope your contribution will have been?

I’m not an in-your-face kind of guy, but my faith is my purpose. I would hope my epitaph is something like, “Despite my many flaws, someone saw a glimpse of how Christ wants to know them”.

How can people follow you?

@Rippl3d on Twitter or at our Facebook page.

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Dan Reus is a writer, connector, speaker, seer of potential and facilitator of innovation and change. He consults with clients aspiring to realize their innovation potential as the founder and chief instigator of Openly Disruptive, and is a proud St. Louisian. Follow him on Twitter at @DanReus.