Brad, could you tell us about your background and your journey into Additive Manufacturing?
I first began working on photocurable polymers and ceramic dopants in a 3D printing modality in 2002 at Stanford Research Institute. It wasn’t until 2010 that I started pushing 3D printing in the field, specifically in Afghanistan in the Army’s ExLabs.
After overseeing these labs for nearly five years, I became intimately familiar with the capabilities and struggles of 3D printing in austere environments.
When I founded Building Momentum in 2015 my Chief Technology Officer (Dr. Albert Vega) and I began building our own FDM 3D printers largely because I couldn’t afford to buy reliable 3D printers on the market.
Today, Building Momentum has a 3D printer test facility where companies elect to subject their machines to many of the stressors found in harsh and in situ environments like in deserts, onboard ships, or in the jungle.
What is Building Momentum and what is the story behind it?
Building Momentum was founded by Brad Halsey and Dr. Albert Vega in 2015 as a training, prototyping, and consulting company.
Together, our extensive prototyping and problem-solving experiences in austere environments, such as battlefields and disaster zones, provide the foundation for all of Building Momentum’s problem-solving trainings and workshops.
Building Momentum has conducted military and corporate training all over the globe for nearly 5,000 people to date, designed and developed inventions and prototypes for commercial and government clients, and has helped dozens of organizations with creating cultural fundamentals to improve problem-solving skills to increase innovative development.
When not teaching, building, or consulting, Building Momentum is ready at a moment’s notice for disaster and humanitarian response prototyping.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
Teaching people, especially the Marine Corps, to use this capability to solve real-world problems.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
There have been many examples of useful 3D printed solutions in the environments where Building Momentum operates, but one that comes to mind is when a newly trained Marine (on CAD/3D printing by Building Momentum) designed and 3D printed a much-needed mortar tube wrench that was otherwise unavailable.
This simple problem-solving application created a domino effect of policy changes within the Marine Corps such that today the Marine Corps strongly encourages soldiers to use additive manufacturing to solve problems.
What advice would you share with someone looking into a career in additive manufacturing?
Clearly understand how the technology helps people solve problems when other methods fall short.
Additive manufacturing is just a toolset, like any other toolset, that helps users solve problems. Understanding the problems future users might encounter will help the additive manufacturing industry maintain its agility and utility.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
Call for more women to be in the problem-solving meetings and brainstorming sessions from the beginning.
Learning the tool is not nearly as impactful as learning when to use it, or when to use another tool.
Additionally, starting women from a young age in additive manufacturing and giving children the confidence to learn tools in a traditionally male dominated field is paramount to the next generation of women in additive manufacturing.
At Building Momentum, we teach all ages from middle school to adult how to get involved with tools and many are taught by female instructors, providing women role models.
At Building Momentum we have a saying that ‘Diversity is not just a nice-to-have, when solving hard problems it is a must-have.’
Women provide a much-needed perspective to the problem-solving process and with initial involvement comes solution development — and additive manufacturing will be a part of that.
What value does a diverse workforce and inclusivity bring to a company? Can you describe any internal policies at your organization to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity across your team?
As aforementioned, diversity is a must-have for Building Momentum. We constantly post and repost jobs to ensure we are reaching as many demographics as possible. Building Momentum is 50 percent women and LGBTQ+ represented.
Externally, we strive to be as inclusive as possible with our genderless bathrooms, free programming for all community members, and often provide free event space to social-good organizations.
Internally, we have designated a (volunteer) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) champion who orchestrates with Human Resources to provide training expertise regularly on these topics.
As a company which specializes in problem solving and training, diversity is imperative to our work.
We are better problem solvers when we understand more diverse perspectives on how to tackle a problem. We can serve larger communities when we understand the challenges those communities face.
What are some benefits you have found in being mindful of diversity and inclusion when planning public-facing events like panels, conferences, and press releases?
When everyone has a voice, the conversation is more impactful.
Although we have not held as many in the past year, we always try to highlight our diverse group of partners and employees in public facing events, which has led us to even more partnerships, conversations, and increased community access of our programs.
Our Public Relations team, Collins + Co. is wholly woman-staffed and helps guide us in this mindfulness for all of our events and communications.
Why is it important for industry leaders, particularly men, to encourage and inspire diversity in the additive manufacturing workforce?
A company can only create the best solutions with a diverse workforce where everyone has an equal voice. Period.
Every single industry leader should endeavor to achieve a diverse as possible workforce because it will absolutely provide that company with the best offering for its clients.
Favorite 3D tool?
Favorite moment in your day job?
All the moments!
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years?
Stratasys Fortus 450
Another inspiring woman (or male ally) you’d like us to interview?