A post on Wohlers Talk indicates that Scott Crump, founder of Stratasys and inventor of FDM 3D printing, has stepped away from day-to-day activities at the company.
Terry Wohlers writes in the 11 September post:
“After 34 years, Scott spent his first day—last Friday—not working full-time for the company, transitioning from chief innovation officer to technology advisor to the board. Scott and his wife, Lisa, co-founded Stratasys in 1989. He served as CEO of the company for 25 years.”
If you’re reading this story and you’re not familiar with Scott Crump, you should be. Crump was one of the three key figures who literally invented 3D printing in the 1980s.
Crump’s story is legend: he created a working machine that performed extrusion on his kitchen table using re-purposed 2D printer parts. From this simple start he went on to found Stratasys, today one of the giants in the 3D printing industry.
It was his original patent that described the now-ubiquitous “FFF” or “FDM” process in which a filament is heated and extruded. (Point of clarity here: FFF and FDM mean the same physical process, it’s just that “FDM” has been trademarked by Stratasys and it’s often used by others.)
That patent lasted for, as all patents do, over twenty years. Upon its expiry a number of startup companies began to leverage the patent to produce similar machines, like MakerBot and Ultimaker. However, Stratasys merged with Objet 3D printing, which still had a number of active patents, and this allowed the company to continue moving forward.
Since the patent’s expiry others have taken up the concept and have now built large businesses based on the simple FDM concept originally developed by Crump in the 1980s.
Personally, I’ve met Crump on several occasions and each time I was completely impressed with his down-to-Earth manner and curiousity about any technology. He’s one of the good guys in the industry. Terry Wohlers observed the same, writing:
“Having known Scott for 30+ years, I can say without reservation that he is one of the most approachable executives I know. His sense of humor and willingness to put himself out there is unusual in the world of business. He will do and say things that you may never see or hear from most executives, but that is what I like about Scott. I believe it is a big reason why he has been so successful and why so many people like and appreciate him.”
Wohlers also says Crump is not going away, and Wohlers still expects to see him at events. When we have events, that is.
My Scott Crump story is one that always makes me smile. I have often attended in-person 3D print tradeshows and during these events it’s relatively easy to bump into industry notables, including Crump, who has always been easy to speak with.
At one event I noticed Crump perusing the show floor, taking time to visit many different exhibitors. I recall seeing him speaking with a small startup company, who were showing him their wares as they would any visitor. Crump listened patiently as they told their story.
But they had no idea who they were talking to, and that their very existence was enabled by that tall and modest fellow in front of them.
Thank you, Scott Crump, for your inventions and service through the years. Good luck in your future!
Via Wohlers Talk