We talked to Ross Lawless of CALT Dynamics about its unique 3D printing technologies and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ross Lawless: Thankfully, for the most part, we’ve all been fine. It’s certainly been trying times with several lockdowns and growing case numbers, but we’ve managed to stay positive.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded CALT Dynamics.
Ross Lawless: I’m a techie; I studied electrical and electronic engineering. I think I was always going to be an engineer; I couldn’t help taking things apart to find out how they worked when I was a kid. I founded CALT Dynamics to make technologies that could have a positive impact. I had been working in the semiconductor industry building LASER’s, and I was looking for a new challenge. I built a little lab and started researching 3D printing techniques. I think manufacturing is an industry that can have a lot of positive knock-on effects, so I started there, and I even worked that ethos into our logo. It kind of looks like a domino, representing the domino effect we’d like our tech to have. Sometime later, I met Irene Villafane, my co-founder and we have been developing technologies ever since.
How does CALT Dynamics innovate?
Ross Lawless: We’re constantly evolving, and our business is based on innovation. Whether it’s one of our own technologies or a product developed for a customer, we’re always looking for new and better ways to do things. Along the way, you learn things, and over time you get a feel for what’s going to work and what’s not, so we’re always optimizing our process too. Innovation and business (and a lot of things in life) start with a problem. A unique and financially sound solution is where the innovation lays. The business model and product are interwoven such that innovation is needed in both areas.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ross Lawless: Like most businesses, the pandemic has had a lot of impact on our customers, so it’s certainly been a challenge but, like I said, you can apply manufacturing to a lot of things so we’re doing our best to help people during this time and we were able to have our printers running overtime on PPE production.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ross Lawless: Yes! The demand for PPE was huge as the pandemic emerged, and we had to invest in keeping up with production. This obviously wasn’t in the game plan, so it was a chance we took in order to help the frontline and other businesses. A major lesson I learned is that companies scaling their production with 3D printing is far less risky than traditional mass production. Mass production is really the nuclear option nowadays, and a lot of companies still don’t realize it.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and CALT Dynamics in the future?
Ross Lawless: During Covid, I actually picked up some old pastimes. I used to skate but hadn’t done it in years. It felt weird to be a 30-year-old man in a skatepark, but hey the world was falling apart. I like to work on side projects too, it might not sound like it’s destressing, but it is. I exercise when I can, and I find getting out for a walk in nature helps.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ross Lawless: As Peter Thiel says ‘competition is for losers’. We’re about the new, that’s how we plan to stay ahead of the game. I think start-ups should be aiming to bring value to society.
Your final thoughts?
Ross Lawless: Best wishes for everyone struggling during the pandemic.
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