Q&A With DFM Summit Founder Peter Verkooijen

This week the Design for Manufacturing Summit is set to take place in Brooklyn. The Hand & Eye caught up with DFM founder Peter Verkooijen over email to find out what's in store and why this moment matters for manufacturing. 

Why DFM now? What's important about this moment?

The first DFM Summit was in early 2012, but the original idea was from a couple of years earlier. We can't have an economy based on money printing, debt and consumption. We will have to figure out how to make stuff again and do it better, more efficiently, more competitively, more durably, more sustainably. Technology will make that possible, if we can break through various cultural barriers. Big corporations have to become more nimble and innovative. Startups have to focus on building real value instead of quick financially engineered exits.

What are you hoping to learn from this year's summit or are there specific areas of the industry that you're hoping to learn about?

The value of these summits is really in getting different perspectives together. If it works, they find common ground and make useful connections. The program was put together based on a theory that we can evolve towards a more decentralized, networked, leaner manufacturing ecosystem. All the speakers represent some aspect of that and I think there are very interesting possible connections between them. We'll see how that will shake out. If I am wrong it will be a disjointed event with half the audience tuning out.

DFM is sort of industry oriented. Why should non-manufacturing industry people care about manufacturing in general?

Manufacturing is not something you can just throw over the wall to China. Design, product development, marketing, business development, strategic management, all should be involved in manufacturing. Without manufacturing there will be no non-manufacturing industry.

Any companies/organizations that you are particularly looking forward to hearing about?

Sponsors ShopBot Tools and SketchUp of course. Seriously, ShopBot is interesting because they basically do for CNC routing what MakerBot did for 3D printing, helping me make the point that this digital manufacturing thing is much broader than just 3D printing. ShopBot's founder Ted Hall is also pushing "distributed manufacturing" with his 100k Garages initiative.

I am interested to hear what Trimble's plans are with SketchUp. As far as I know - I am not an industrial designer, just a journalist - SketchUp at Google was an accessible, free, entry-level CAD alternative, part of the popularization of 3D printing and modeling. Trimble is a mapping/navigation company. SketchUp is now part of Trimble Buildings.

Architecture, industrial design and product development seem to be merging. Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny (Situ Studio), Zac Feltoon (MulvannyG2) and others on the program can probably talk about that. I am also curious to hear from Humanscale's Brad Augustine and Lagoa's Jeremy Luchini, both on the panel with Zac, who both have a broad cross-functional product development background, working between engineering and design.

Interested in going? Click here for a discounted ticket.