Before Scott Crump set to work with a hot-glue gun in his kitchen back in 1989, rapid prototyping didn't exist outside of fantasy novels and sci-fi movies. Until then, manufacturers and design engineers were crippled by a long, expensive prototyping process that simply didn't fit in the high-speed manufacturing model anymore -- a problem Crump was determined to remedy.
When he finished that first hot-glue project -- a "froggie" for his then 2-year-old daughter -- he had done just that, laying the foundation for an entirely new industry that brought rapid prototyping out of science fiction and into the hands of manufacturers.
The fused-deposition modeling, or FDM, process he invented in that home "lab" eventually grew into an industry-defining company worth just shy of $200 million that has put additive manufacturing into operation with more than 20,000 manufacturers around the world.
Armed with a mechanical engineering degree from Washington State University and a master's in entrepreneurial studies from UCLA, Crump built Stratasys up out of pots and pans and a small stack of start-up cash by keeping his focus on innovation and progress through his long tenure as CEO.
By delegating much of the day-to-day business of the company to COO Tom Stenoien and CFO Robert Gallagher, Crump says he has been able to dedicate about half of his time working exclusively on innovation projects and testing "crazy ideas" in the company's skunk-work groups.
This hands-on R&D leadership has resulted in a continuously improving technology that has fundamentally changed the way manufacturers do business and helped shape the future of the industry. It is culminating now with a merger with Israel-based additive manufacturer, Objet, to form an internationally based, $350 million company that will feature Crump as chairman -- a role that will free him to continue his pursuit of innovation.
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