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The Digital Factory Podcast: IMTS Reflections With Spencer Wright, Zach Kaplan, and Elizabeth Koprucki

Every other year, the International Manufacturing Technology Show descends on Chicago and serves as an exhaustive amusement park for 130,000 people from across the manufacturing sector. Giant exhibit halls feature bus-sized machining centers, arcane workholding clamps, novel collets, and every type of 3D printer imaginable.

This week the Digital Factory Podcast presents a series of interviews with three people from different backgrounds who reflect on what they saw at IMTS in September 2018 and what they’re thinking about the future of prototyping and manufacturing.

Subscribe to the Digital Factory Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Pocket Casts, Overcast, or Stitcher. Read The Digital Factory Report, an overview of recent advances in artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, and advanced automation, and a look at how those technologies are transforming the business of making things. Download the report for free at

Spencer Wright

Spencer Wright publishes The Prepared, a newsletter and podcast about fabrication, and runs partnerships and integrations at nTopology. (You might remember him from his previous appearance on this podcast.

From Spencer’s conversation:

Zach Kaplan

Zach Kaplan is the founder and CEO of Inventables, which makes X-Carve and Carvey, accessible CNC routers used by a wide variety of creators. In our discussion Zach reflects on bottom-up transformation of manufacturing by putting tools into more hands.

From Zach’s conversation:

  • Why you need to do your own prototyping: “If you were a computer programmer and you had to send your code to someone else to run it, that would be crazy.”
  • Self-publishing platforms have caused the number of book titles published annually to explode
  • Easel, the browser-based CAD/CAM software that runs Inventables’ CNC routers
  • Zach’s favorite tool: a pair of notebooks, one for taking notes and the other divided into columns for tracking people and tasks

Elizabeth Koprucki

Elizabeth Koprucki is the Assistant Director of Fab Lab and Design at the University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. In our conversation she reflects on the value of making tools directly accessible to people who have new ideas.

From Elizabeth’s conversation: