Thoughts on building products, entrepreneurship, bicycling and whatever else strikes my fancy.

Some of my favorite products in 2018

With 2018 just about to come to a close, what better way to spend a rainy Sunday morning in Brooklyn then to list out a few of my favorite products I used this year. In no particular order…
  1. Byword – This Mac-only app is how I’m typing and publishing these words right now. I’ve been a power Evernote user for years, but have found myself switching to Byword even for basic notetaking (beyond the blogging feature set) just because it’s a cleaner, less distracting experience.
  2. Grammarly – A game-changer for improving spelling and grammar in emails and other forms of written communication. Better yet – it’s free.
  3. Strava – This is my social media. It’s the best parts of Facebook (the sharing and community) for cyclists (and other athletes). I’ve upped my riding miles per year significantly since joining the app and been able to stay in touch with folks I’ve meet all over the world. If you are on it, add me!
  4. Arlo Pro – I had one of my bikes stolen earlier this year, this motion detecting security camera has given me peace of mind in the days that followed.
  5. Lastpass – Since I switched to a password manager, I cannot imagine going back to life without it. I use it for both personal and business use now.
  6. Divvy – Super simplified business expense management. We switched Bond over to it from the traditional put everything on Amex and sort it out later approach and it’s been a game changer in terms of managing and tracking spending. Being able to create account specific burner cards is awesome and cuts out having to track down whose email is tied to each specific account.
  7. Qapital – helped me save money as I prepared for my wedding this year. This app made it easy to create saving rules that can be applied to various banking / credit accounts. Transferring money back to your bank account is painless as well.
  8. Mint – This is how I manage my personal finances. This platform helps keeps me sane as I juggle student loans, credit cards, investments, and sources of income.

How to manage students, 3D printers, and data at scale

Aaron Roy - Speaking at Construct3D

I recently gave a talk on “How to manage students, 3D printers and data at scale,” at the Construct3D conference at Georgia Tech University.

Focusing on examples from my 3DPrinterOS work with other top universities, I discussed how educators and engineers could collect and report program data, integrate machines seamlessly into existing IT infrastructure, and maximize access to limited printer resources.

My presentation slides are available below.

3D Printing and Guns

A few quick thoughts on 3D Printed (3DP) guns, now that Defense Distributed is on the precipice of being able to distribute gun designs on their site, although as of August 1, 2018, they were halted from distribution by a temporary restraining order from a federal judge.
  • These files have been available for at least a few years and despite their availability, very few users have actually been able to successfully print and shoot a 3DP gun. To be specific, these files allow users to print the receivers for guns, not a ready-to-fire weapon. They still require further resources to be used as weapons. Here is a great explanation of what those files actually enable.
  • The machines needed to print these gun designs are prohibitively expensive, thus it’s still much cheaper to purchase an actual gun at a pawn shop or some other reseller. For reference, one manufacturer of machines that can handle these files, MarkForged, has a starting price point of $3500+.
  • Lower grade materials on cheaper machines (PLA) don’t have the strength needed for repeated firing (or firing at all), and so the average person would be more likely to blow off their hand than wound a target.
  • To print a 3DP gun still requires a level of technical expertise (because there is no way service bureaus are going to start printing them). A user would need to download the gun file, prepare it for printing for a specific machine (G-codes, the end file of 3d printing, are not machine agnostic), properly slice the file with the right material settings, print it successfully (which would take hours even on today’s million-dollar machines), clean it, and then assemble with gunpowder, firing pins and ammo. Even if a user was able to skip the first few steps and just download a pre-tested G-code for a specific machine ready to print, they would be stuck with certain materials, machines, and parameters as G-codes are not universal keys across printers.
  • 3DP companies, like 3DPrinterOS, are uniquely positioned to help concerned schools, enterprises and original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) in preventing (or managing) the output of prints over their network. Prints can be queued up for approval prior to printing thus allowing platform administrators to review and catch dangerous files of all types before they ever make it to machines.
Overall, 3D printing has many advantages over traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques but there is no way the manufacturing of guns is one of them. You can legislate and delete the files all you want but at the end of the day, these gun files have already been circulated on the internet and will continue to circulate faster than a legislative body or centralized security operation could possibly monitor. I have high hopes that 3DP companies will continue to innovate and roll out the appropriate safeguards needed to mitigate any potential negative outcomes. This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

Coursera: The 3D Printing Revolution

It was an honor to be part of the “3D Printing Revolution” Coursera created by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This course was listed in the top 50 MOOC’s of all time by Class-Central.

The module I contributed, the “3D Printing Ecosystem” covered the current state of additive manufacturing, and it’s growth potential and obstacles to overcome in the years ahead. 

This course demonstrates how 3D printers work, shows the various use cases, and examines the 3D printing ecosystem overall. It also explored the future of 3D printing and discuss how this technology will revolutionize our world. 

The goal for this course was for learners to have a solid understanding of 3D printing and its revolutionary potential and be able to print and customize 3D designs upon completion. 

Product launch plan presentation

This presentation outlines the user journey of a potential customer over 30 days and concludes with the timelines and next steps necessary to make the vision a reality.

I built this for marketing, sales, and C-suite leadership to build consensus for the direction of the product portfolio.

Video: Increasing active users with an onboarding tutorial

One of the biggest challenges we faced in the early days of 3DPrinterOS was turning new user signups into active users. We noticed pretty early into our launch that users would signup for our free account tier and then go dark before adding their first 3d printer or some other high-value action in the system.

I made this walkthrough video as part of the 3DPrinterOS onboarding experience, to be sent in-app and email via Intercom, to help new users understand the different features and set up their first 3d printer for use with the operating system.

Video: Guided tour of 3DPrinterOS features

With 3DPrinterOS being the first company to launch a cloud operating system for 3D printing, we frequently were asked to demo our platform and walkthrough how the various features helped users improve their manufacturing process. 

In this video, I take Tom and Tracy of Hazz Design on a virtual tour of 3DPrinterOS and unpack how the feature set helped users manage 3d printers and users. 

Video: 3D Printing 101 online class

“What would you make if you had a machine that could make almost anything?”

This question was how I started many of the “3D Printing 101” classes I held during my time at 3DPrinterOS.

These intro level classes were an introduction to the basics of 3D printing, an overview of the different types of processes involved, and the hardware and software that made this technology possible.

These classes were an essential part of my goal to evangelize 3D printing, and have 3DPrinterOS be the first touchpoint for users just entering the field.

I would often hold these classes in-person at the Brooklyn Public library, but occasionally, I would take this curriculum online. In this video, I hosted a live class on “3D Printing 101”.

About Aaron Roy - Product Manager

My name is Aaron Roy. I’m a product manager at Teachable, and the co-founder of Wami,

Previously, I was part of the founding team at 3DPrinterOS.

Here is a bit more info about me and feel free to explore my work or contact me if you have any questions.