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Alan R. Mulally has always been, both literally and figuratively, a man on the go, and he’s now taking on the 3D printing world.

An honorary fellow of England’s Royal Aeronautical Society, a key man in the development of the Boeing 777, renowned for his work on wind shear and effective pilot training, and the 1996 Engineer of the Year winner from Design News magazine, he’s a Member of the United States National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of England’s Royal Academy of Engineering. Mulally also holds bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Kansas.

If that’s not enough of a pedigree for you, Mulally was also the CEO and President of Ford Motor Co. from 2006 to 2014. For his work at the automaker, Mulally has been called a “hero,” a “miracle worker” and a friend to organized labor.  He’s also served as a Director at Google Inc. since 2014 and he’s the President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’s Foundation.

Now Mulally has signed on as a director at Carbon3D, Inc., a 3D printing company who recently introduced an innovative approach to polymer-resin-based 3D printing. The company calls their process CLIP – or Continuous Liquid Interface Production – and they say the technology harnesses light and oxygen to build objects from resins.

CLIP 3d printing methodThe process begins with a pool of liquid photopolymer resin in which a portion of the pool bottom is transparent to ultraviolet light. They call it the “window,” and as an ultraviolet light beam shines through the window, it illuminates a precision cross-section of what will become a finished object.

As the light causes the resin to solidify, an object rises slowly enough to allow resin to flow under and maintain contact with the bottom of the object as an oxygen-permeable membrane lies below the resin. This region is called the “dead zone,” and it’s essentially a persistent liquid interface which the process uses to prevent resin from attaching to the area between the window and the polymerizer area.

It’s a continuous process that the inventors say can create objects up to 100 times faster than current commercial 3D printing methods, and the method is fully described in a pair of patents, Continuous liquid interphase printing and Method and apparatus for three-dimensional fabrication with feed through carrier. Both patents were filed early last year by DeSimone, Alexander Ermoshkin, Nikita Ermoshkin, and Edward T. Samulski.

Mulally officially joined Carbon3D’s board on May 29, and he’s the company’s first independent director.

“Alan not only knows our key markets inside and out as a proven product designer, engineer and world-class business leader, he also brings a strong sense of how vocation and service are integral to corporate leadership today which will benefit us immensely going forward,” says DeSimone, the co-founder and CEO of Carbon3D.

Carbon3D_CLIP-Continuous-Liquid-Interface-ProductionDeSimone says Mulally’s contributions will be key to “productizing” CLIP technology, a process he says will revolutionize manufacturing across a range of markets.

For his part, DeSimone is no neophyte to engineering. As CEO of Carbon3D, he’s currently on leave from his previous role as a Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received his BS in Chemistry from Ursinus College, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Virginia Tech, and DeSimone is one of fewer than twenty elected to all three branches of the National Academies: the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

The announcement of Continuous Liquid Interface Production technology was rolled out before the scientific community via a cover story on Science Magazine during March of this year, and to date the company has attracted $41 million in funding from Series A and B financing rounds. Carbon3D also received a $10 million direct investment from the Autodesk Spark Investment Fund.

“The CLIP technology has the potential to accelerate solutions to many of our biggest challenges in fields as varied as energy, transportation, and medicine,” said Mulally of his appointment.

Certainly this is a major move by Carbon3D as they get closer to officially launching their very first products.  With an executive like Mulally on board, the company will garner even more publicity and respect by the industry moving forward.  It will be interesting to watch and see how Mulally’s background may play into Carbon3D’s future, and what his ultimate role with the company may be.

What do you think of the appointment of former Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally to the board of directors at 3D printing innovators Carbon3D? Let us know in the Mulally Carbon3D forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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