On 3D Printing and Mass Customization

Fred Higgs is John and Ann Doerr Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University, where he is also vice provost for academic affairs and director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. A past winner of a National Science Foundation CAREER Young Investigator Award and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Fred is the founder and director of the Particle Flow and Tribology Lab at Rice.

We would try to define what tribology is, but Ted, our host, kind of got it wrong in the interview, and there’s no need to embarrass ourselves twice. The good news is Fred is awesome at explaining things in terms even a non-engineer can understand.

Back in March, we had the opportunity to watch him give an Edison Lecture hosted by Notre Dame’s College of Engineering—and held virtually, of course—about some of the research they do in his lab in the area of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. Here he and Ted talked about how 3D printing actually works, some real-world applications that illustrate why you’d do it in the first place, and whether we’ll ever be able to print three-dimensional objects as easily as we use a Xerox machine.

Before that, though, they spent some time on the rise of intelligent machines and the ensuing paradigm shift for engineers looking to bring products to market. It’s a great example of why Fred and others see ethics as a core component of engineering education.

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“With a Side of Knowledge” is a podcast produced at the University of Notre Dame. It features interviews with fascinating people from both Notre Dame and elsewhere that take place over brunch—or if we’re really in a pinch, coffee.

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April 15, 2021

BusinessHealth and SocietyScience and TechnologyFourth Industrial RevolutionFred HiggsRice University3D PrintingManufacturingIndustry 4.0EngineeringNotre DamepodcastInterviewWith a Side of Knowledge