Karla Lopez – “We can do better than that!”

Karla LopezKarla co-founded Authentise in 2013. Authentise’s technology helps optimizing designs for printing, as well as streams the files directly to 3D printers.  This technology aims to secure the entire 3D printing process.

Karla, could you let us know how the technology works?

Karla: Our streaming service prepares and optimizes their designs, securely streams them directly to printers, making your 3D printable designs ready to be offered to printer owners on a pay-per-print model.

This is how our service works: When a purchase order is completed on our partner marketplaces, instead of sending a download link, the marketplace uploads the STL file to Authentise servers using an API call. When the upload is finished, they get back what we call a token link. This token link is loaded inside of an iframe in the partner’s own website and it will be the interface between the customer and his printers. Using this interface, the user can set up his printer and monitor the printing process until it is finished.

What happens on our servers is even more interesting: We slice the STL file uploaded, encrypt the GCode and stream it to the user’s printer, layer by layer, until the print is 100% done. By the time the object is printed (or even if the print is paused or canceled in the middle of the print), no trace of the file is kept in the user’s machine.

We have recently launched a second product, more focused in quality assurance, a Print monitoring tool. It uses an off-the-shelf webcam to monitor your print progress with cutting-edge computer vision. If it detects a deviation from the intended build progress, you will be informed by email or text. You can also pause your print remotely, and address the failure later, saving time and material.

Both solutions are now available for FDM printers and we are working on porting them to industrial printers as well.

Usually when thinking of 3D printing, first things that comes in mind are the printers themselves. Your solution is about the process. How did you came with the idea of Authentise at first?

Karla: Andre, my co-founder, and I went to the same 2012 class at SU’s Graduate Studies Program, a 10-week summer boot camp at NASA Ames, focused in exponential technologies. The idea for Authentise came out of some of the lectures we had and in-class exercises. It started very science-fiction like: With a mobile app, you would be able to take a picture of an object and get it 3d printed somewhere near you. With this concept we were able to explore the barriers that would prevent this product from ever existing, like intellectual property, liability, export restrictions, quality assurance etc, and then start ideating on how to solve those problems.

And before that, what was your first experience with 3D Printing?

Karla: Because of my parents business in manufacturing, I’ve heard of it pretty early, in the early 90s, when his automotive clients would talk about how they thought the future of the industry would look like, but I only got in contact with it around 2007, when someone I knew was putting together a hacker space and building a Reprap.

Do you own a 3D printer yourself?

Karla:  For 5 years, everything I had had to fit on one piece of luggage. I moved so many times that every time I bought a pair of shoes, I had to give one away to make sure I would stay fairly mobile. Now I’m settling down in the Valley, I could probably get one, but the best part of working with 3D printing is that printers are part of the company research budget 🙂

You attended a program at the Singularity University right before founding Authentise. Was SU your push-button to create the company?

Karla: Definitely yes. Spending 3 months with 80 people from 40 countries, most of them PhDs, and getting to hear from, meet and spend time with top researchers and technologists is pretty powerful. You realize the future is now and you have to build for it.

Did the SU help you with the company creation?

Karla: Since the beginning we have been part of SU Labs, a startup accelerator supported by alumni, corporate partners, and a growing network of mentors and investors. The projects receive the guidance, support, and connections necessary to build great companies and create impact.

I personally think there are more and more female decision-makers, in small or large corporations. You are the perfect example of a successful female entrepreneur. Have you noticed an increase in the number of female decision-makers in our industry?

Karla: Thanks for saying that, I really appreciate it 🙂 To be honest, I have not. We have some amazing women in the industry, like Dalia Lasaite (CG Trader), Liza Wallach-Kloski (HoneyPoint) Jenny Lawton (Makerbot), Nancy Liang (Mixee Labs/Amazon) and many many others, and this is great because it will open doors for other women, but when I speak to new clients and partners, probably in 1 in 10 you will find a woman involved. We can do better than that!

Thank you Karla for your involvement with Women in 3D Printing!

And don’t forget to join the Women in 3D Printing group on LinkedIn, click here to join!

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