Internship, Co-op or Research Site: Formlabs
Position Title: Print Production Intern
Work Term:Summer 2017
Tell us about your internship, co-op, or research opportunity, including your day-to-day responsibilities.
I worked at a 3D printing farm. A print farm is a space that has dozens of printers that we print sample parts on. The printers I worked with are Formlab's Form 2, so they are SLA (resin-based) printers. Although SLA has a much better surface finish and detail than regular FDM (plastic filament) printers, there is a lot of post-processing required, like cleaning each part with alcohol, as well as UV curing each part. I help the team of 8 I am with to clean and cure the pieces, and also assist with CAD'ing new sample parts for different market verticals.
Describe the process of obtaining your position. When did you hear of the position and submit your application?
I worked at UMBC's Keith R. Porter Imaging Facility (KPIF). It is located in the basement of one of the biology buildings, and deals mainly with microscopy. At the KPIF I worked to convert microscope image stacks into 3D models, into 3D printable files fit for the Form 2 which we also have. I have been to the career center multiple times, so my resume was well and up-to-date. I loved working with the Form 2, so I called up the company that makes them, and after weeks of interviews, I got the position.
What have you enjoyed the most about your position or organization?
What I enjoyed most about Formlabs was the culture, and how much it related to my future career goals. I relocated to Boston for the summer, and the city itself was well worth it. Although Formlabs has over 200 employees, it still maintains the startup culture that is expected with such a new company. In this way, most employees were in their 20’s so we saw eye to eye with a lot of topics relating to 3D printing and rapid prototyping. Similarly, I loved the team I worked with, especially because they were all knowledgeable about the technology.
How do you believe you have made an impact through your work?
Some of the parts I helped design will be sent to people all over the world. In addition, the resin tanks we use in the printer wear out after a couple uses, and we throw them out often. The only problem was that there was some small amount of resin still in the tanks which is not great for the environment. To fix the problem, me and another intern worked together to build an efficient UV 'curing chamber' that cures the remaining resin in the tanks before disposal.
What advice would you give to another student who is seeking an internship or similar experience?
If you are passionate about anything, don't stop at nothing to get an internship or career in that field. "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." I love 3D printing, so I pursued and got this job. In the same way, do not limit yourself to internship finding through just traditional routes (like job finding sites, career center, etc.). Although you should take advantage of those resources as much as you can, try finding and contacting people in your field in any way possible to get your name out.
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