When it comes to the future of manufacturing and Industry 4.0, Wicklow-based CALT Dynamics makes it simpler through 3D printing and VR.

CALT Dynamics is a technology generation company that uses decentralising technologies such as 3D printing and virtual reality to create intellectual property (IP) for manufacturers to license. It also offers an online manufacturing service called CustomParts.ie

In plain English, it uses the latest tech to take the hard work out of making hardware.

“We are growing quite fast and preparing for some exciting product launches”

“Developing hardware products is expensive and time consuming so we are making solutions to allow creators to make better products, faster and cheaper,” explained CEO and co-founder Ross Lawless.

“The 3D printing industry is growing rapidly year on year with predictions of being worth more than $64bn. Typically, you would prototype a product using 3D printing and then your only available next step is to go to mass production. This is expensive and requires a lot of manufacturing knowledge.

“Our batch 3D printers offer a solution in the middle where a company can sell their product to a wider audience without sinking capital in mass production at first. We used this method recently to scale up production of a face shield in response to COVID-19. This demonstrated really well how 3D printing can take you quite far in terms of production numbers before having to mass produce a product.”

Innovative methods

CALT Dynamics’ core product is industrial 3D printing services based on its own proprietary technologies.

“It works with an innovative printing method that allows us to make much larger objects (or batches of smaller objects) than before,” Lawless explained. “We are creating an ecoystem for product development. 3D printing and VR visualisation software are key aspects of that.

“Our software can significantly reduce the time and cost of developing hardware plus our manufacturing tools are enabling companies to manufacture in-house. For example, we recently created a face shield in response to Covid-19 that was simulated in VR before being produced with our 3D printers. This allowed us to bring the product to market in a matter of weeks which is unheard of in product development.”

Defining the future of manufacturing

Dark-haired woman holding a certificate.

Irene Villafane, co-founder, CALT Dynamics

Ross Lawless and Irene Villafane are the founders of CALT Dynamics, and they started the company to create technologies that empower people.

“The divide between productivity and employment grows larger each year so it is important that we create technologies that offer people a future in manufacturing. Manufacturing is one of these industries that affects us all and shapes the world around us.

“Recent events have really highlighted that self-sufficiency and short logistics chains are critical for the manufacturing industry.”

A bustling tech scene

A 3d printing design.

A face shield simulated in VR before being produced on a CALT Dynamics 3D printer

Both founders have experienced the start-up ecosystems in the US and Ireland. “They are very different in terms of how a start-up is viewed and what is expected from founders. I would say Ireland is tighter knit and more competitive in nature. For such a small place, Ireland has a bustling tech scene. In just our region of Wicklow there is an incredible amount of impressive companies.”

CALT Dynamics closed a €1.1m seed funding round in January. “We are growing quite fast and preparing for some exciting product launches.”

The biggest challenge has been creating a dream team. “Creating a team is difficult, probably the hardest part of creating a start-up. The best advice I have is to hire people who can fit your company culture and have the skills you need. It may sound obvious but that is way more important than what degree they have. You need to be able to trust that each team member will come through for the company. It is that trust that makes a great team.”

His advice to fellow start-up founders is to take time for themselves. “Founders often forget to take a break, myself included, but I have learned that nothing good happens when you are over worked and 14 hours into a day.”

To stay agile and on top of things, Lawless’s go-to platform/tool is Trello. “It is perfect for running lean projects and managing teams. We also develop our own in-house tools as needed. If they are good, we grow that project, that’s how our visualisation software got started.”

Written by John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 28 August, 2020

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