From applications engineering to product manager: Amos Dudley on transitioning to a new role
Amos Dudley has been a Formling for the past three years. He started as an applications engineer, working on research and experimentation, but has recently taken up a role as a jewelry product manager. His day-to-day responsibilities now include working on product expansion, marketing, and sales growth strategy for our jewelry manufacturing customers.
Read on to learn more about the projects Amos is currently working on, his growth at Formlabs, and take a look at his entirely 3D printed camera!
How did you become interested in 3D printing and its applications?
When I was in architecture school, I built a fused deposition modeling (FDM) printer so that I could spend more time designing and less time making models. Suddenly having the ability to take an idea from your mind to a digital model to a useful thing in your hand was like gaining a superpower. You start looking for any way you can use it.
What advice would you give to someone interested in the 3D printing world?
To get into the 3D printing world, stand out with self-motivated projects. Taking an ambitious personal project to completion (best if it involves 3D printing in some interesting way), and documenting it in a way that can capture people’s attention. It shows that you’re working on the same frequency as our customers, and that you have a level of dedication that’s highly valued at Formlabs.
How did you make the transition from applications engineer to jewelry product manager?
As an applications engineer, you become a subject matter expert on a wide range of workflows involving 3D printing. You seek out and encounter a lot of difficult customer issues and then experiment with the workflow yourself, with the goal of finding some solution or optimized process that improves the way we educate customers. By doing this, I learned how our customers were struggling with jewelry casting at a deeper level than had existed at Formlabs before. I took the opportunity to propose a few solutions in the form of future jewelry products, based on the evidence I’d found of a market need. This work is at the core of product management, and it was noticed by our product team. Since then, I’ve been trying to learn everything I can from our veteran product managers.
What are some of the projects you’re currently working on?
Formlabs makes amazing general purpose 3D printers, and people have discovered that they can be used for a lot of niche applications like jewelry manufacturing, orthodontics, and more. Jewelers in particular use additive manufacturing in a complex workflow that is very sensitive to the performance of our materials. They also have some of the quality highest standards for their end parts of any of our customers.
My team and I are developing our product line to better serve the specific needs of jewelers: that means hiring jewelry manufacturing experts, growing our materials science team, and building our testing capabilities so that we can make big strides in the ease of use of our casting materials. We’re aiming to be the go-to choice for large-scale jewelry manufacturing, where the performance of the material is directly tied to production yield.
How has your work here complemented your career goals?
Applications engineering at Formlabs involves a lot of research and direct experimentation, which was a great opportunity for me to hone my methodological rigor. However, applications engineering is basically reactive — looking at how to best use products that exist, and how to fill existing gaps in customer awareness. Product management puts me in a position where I can proactively build on what I’ve learned as an AE in a cumulative and lasting way.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned throughout your time at Formlabs?
It sounds trite, but communication is key. Telling colleagues about your projects early and often, through casual discussions and in-depth documentation, is an important way to reveal blind spots in the work. It’s also the only way for colleagues to know what you are capable of, and include you in projects that are outside the narrowest interpretation of your responsibilities. That aspect is what makes work interesting and sustainable in the long run.
What is something that you’ve been involved in here that you didn’t anticipate?
For a few months during a period of crunch time, I was asked to join the mechanical engineering team to help draw the CAD model of a prototype of the Fuse selective laser sintering (SLS) printer. I’m not a mechanical engineer, but my general CAD skills allowed me to contribute with some coaching. It’s very cool to get a crash course in sheet metal part design, and design some components that are now in use.
What has been your best day at work?
Hackathon is the best day at Formlabs. You get to put down your regular work and get to put your mind to something radical. It’s very refreshing.
What’s one of the most exciting opportunities you’ve found in your work at Formlabs?
Formlabs has given me a chance to work with incredibly smart people who are generously willing to share their knowledge. If you want to know about something, chances are there’s a Formling who has it as a hobby.
What is your favorite 3D print?
My favorite print is my entirely 3D printed camera.
Formlabs is growing quickly, and we’re always looking for talented individuals to help us build the future. Head over to our Careers page to learn about new opportunities.