WFH: 3 Recommendations From an Engineering Manager

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We’ve recently discussed how bringing your 3D printing in-house will help you cut costs and gain more control during times of uncertainty, especially if you’ve previously or currently rely on outsourcing 3D printed parts.

Formlabs Business Development Lead Dan Recht has had his team directly impacted by recent work from home orders. Read on to hear how this has impacted his team, and how he thinks these recent events will change how his team operates in the future. 

Business Development From Home

Engineers and designers working from home lose access to many of the prototyping tools critical to their work. As the leader of a technical team, I couldn’t afford the large loss in productivity this would cause. Lucky for me, I work at Formlabs. While it’s normal to take a work computer and design software licenses home while working remotely, at Formlabs we’ve taken things a step further. Many of our employees have brought our Form 3 desktop stereolithography 3D printers home from the office so that they can continue to develop hardware products and serve our customers at peak efficiency while practicing social distancing. We’ve even developed a practical guide for transporting our printers.

As the leader of Formlabs business development team, I’ve encouraged my team members to take printers home so that they can continue to prototype the new applications they are developing and pursue printing optimizations with customers who are performing essential work during this global crisis. The results have been remarkable: we have continued our work without a loss of capacity and are now reaching out to contacts in hard-hit industries to help them restart their own 3D printing efforts. 

"The results have been remarkable: we have continued our work without a loss of capacity and are now reaching out to contacts in hard-hit industries to help them restart their own 3D printing efforts."

Dan Recht, Formlabs Business Development Lead

Zooming out to Formlabs as a whole, placing printers in the homes of our team members is a key part of our approach to shipping new products in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic. When our engineers and designers discuss hardware changes among themselves and with our suppliers, they have been sharing STL and CAD files with each other. This allows all sides to be confident with prototypes printed from the same file, with nothing lost in translation. Moreover, the wide variety of properties of the resins available in Formlabs’ materials library allows our hardware team to make end-use prototypes of plastic parts without access to our central facilities.

Once we begin to return to our offices, I intend to recommend that my team members continue to have a printer at home to increase their productivity and to allow greater flexibility for them to work from home when they need to or when external circumstances require it.

Lizz Hill, a member of Recht's Business Development Team at Formlabs, working from her home office with her Form 3 3D Printer. 

Three Recommendations For Maintaining Productivity

I have three recommendations to leaders of technical teams trying to maintain productivity during this unprecedented period:

  1. Equip your team members with a versatile desktop 3D printer, like the Form 3, to allow them to prototype from home. This small investment will have a large return in saved productivity while your central facilities are not available.

  2. Educate your team on the best practices of 3D printing from home. They should be able to use printed parts for communication, design iteration, and for looks-like and works-like prototypes.

  3. As your team returns to the workplace, consider whether you want to keep those printers at each individual’s home or combine them into a centralized 3D printing resource at your facility. An advantage of Formlabs’ powerful desktop 3D printers is that you can switch between these two scenarios with little cost.

How Are You Engineering From Home?

Do you have any best practices or tips that you’ve learned along the way when making this transition to engineering from home? We’d love to hear about them. Feel free to share directly on social media by tagging @formlabs and #EngineeringFromHome or add a comment on our forums

Continue reading to learn more of our best practices and see how other individuals are engineering from home.

Read our Engineering From Home Guide