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The Digital Factory Podcast: Urban Manufacturing with Krisztina "Z" Holly

Formlabs is proud to support The Digital Factory podcast, part of our ongoing series on digital manufacturing. In this series, hosted by Jon Bruner, we’ll explore the future of the factory floor through conversations with experts who are changing the way things are made.

In episode 5, we sit down with Krisztina “Z” Holly, host of the Art of Manufacturing podcast and founder of the MAKE IT IN LA initiative, a coalition of organizations that support the manufacturing ecosystem and inspire entrepreneurs to turn their passions into real products in Los Angeles.

Play the full podcast below to hear about:

  • The surprisingly broad and sophisticated Los Angeles manufacturing sector–America’s largest
  • The steps cities can take to become hotbeds for manufacturing and entrepreneurship
  • The importance of cross-pollination between industries and craftspeople

Localizing Manufacturing in Los Angeles and Beyond

In this episode, we take a look at the manufacturing ecosystem in Los Angeles through the eyes of an entrepreneur who’s been working to make manufacturing both compelling and accessible.

On the Manufacturing Landscape in Los Angeles

“We don't have one industry. Aerospace is huge, and food. Fashion, huge. It's really the center for apparel manufacturing in the country. And transportation, that's why both of the Hyperloops actually started in LA. Automotive: almost all of the designers of today's cars are based in LA. There's actually quite a bit of electronics manufacturing as well, and it's a huge port for trade; if you think about all of the trade that comes in and out of the ports of the country, close to half comes through the port of Los Angeles. It's a really big logistical hub for the country.”

On How Automation Enables Crossover Between Roles

“Automation makes wrote things easier to do, and removes some of the manual labor from the manufacturing process. But there are other tools that you may or may not call automation. Maybe there's an AI component to it that enables creatives who don't know anything about manufacturing or engineering to actually design new products. It creates more opportunities for the different folks that do not have those skills to actually be producing. And so I actually think that automation doesn't just eliminate unskilled jobs, it enables people to cross over.”

“Automation doesn't just eliminate unskilled jobs, it enables people to cross over.”

On How Cities Can Create Vibrant Manufacturing Communities

“I think it depends on the city, and the most important thing is to look at what your innate skills and competitive advantage are. Don't try to be a city that you're not. Consider manufacturing as a really important inclusive source of employment for the city, and diversification of jobs in the city. When I say diversity, there's also diversity from the standpoint of the folks that it engages. It creates a wide range of jobs for a lot of different people with different backgrounds.”

“In large cities like LA, San Francisco, and New York, there's a lot tension between industrial land and land for housing, especially when housing is in such short supply. Clearly, you need to have housing in order for housing to be affordable; we just have this huge shortage in LA. And at the same time, creating good jobs makes that housing more affordable. So having a balanced approach is really important.”

“And then finally look at how to connect the ecosystem, and entrepreneurs being one of the components. When I say entrepreneurs, I mean both makers and entrepreneurial leaders of companies that want to grow, and scale, and figure out how to more effectively make those connections happen.”

“Look at what your innate skills and competitive advantage are. Don't try to be a city that you're not.”

On the Realities of Entrepreneurship

“There are so many stories of folks who really want to make the world a better place, and that's exciting. I think a lot of folks romanticize entrepreneurship. You hear about the success stories after the fact. And having been an entrepreneur myself, I know what that rollercoaster is like. And I still live it. You hear these stories about the absolute depths of despair that people go through. It's not for everyone. And I think that's really important for people to know. But I think that it's still inspiring to hear those stories. Sometimes I think that it's better to not know how hard it's going to be, and be in that crazy state of denial.”

More Lessons from Digital Manufacturing Innovators

Stay tuned for the next episode of the podcast! In the meantime, visit The Digital Factory for an archive of talks, podcasts, and more from experts at the forefront of digital manufacturing.

Visit The Digital Factory