Interview by Marija Butkovic @MarijaButkovic
Learner, maker, innovator & 3D technology enthusiast, Kadine James is Hobs studios 3D Tech Lead and is a prominent Evangelist. Combining 6+ years’ experience in 3D Printing, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality. she’s driven by big ideas, a global mindset & empowering the use 3D printing in art and architecture. Kadine is – especially committed to the next generation #FutureDigitalLeaders #Makers #Designers #VR artists/gamers. She is also collaborating with international galleries, leading contemporary artists / architects, and sets out to create a platform for 3D printing VR/AR/MR learning opportunities for young people to get involved with 3DTech in East London, at Hobs studios hub and incubator for thought leadership in the wider 3D printing makers VR/AR/MR tech industry which is based at Here East. Kadine is a STEAM ambassador and technology correspondent with Planning TV. A Maker and VR producer and curator, Kadine produced the largest 3D printed Master Plan Project’s in the UK, she also curates 3D printing and VR projects the for the public realm along with working with leading VR artist’s. She specialises in immersive experiences for broad and diverse audiences and heads up the 3D Academy which delivers career pathways in 3D printing VR/AR/MR at Hobs studios with The Mayor of London and London Legacy. Kadine has launched the UK Chapter of Women in 3D Printing a global network of women working across additive manufacturing and rapid prototyping where she hosts regular meetups and opportunities for the wider community in London promoting, supporting and inspiring women using Additive Manufacturing technologies.
Kadine, how did you get into tech industry? Tell us a bit more about your background and your projects so far.
My background is in creative arts, I studied Art and Design and have always been fascinated with tech and how it can be used to create and make, there are quite literally endless possibilities. At our digital foundry and makers lab in East London we are pioneering the use of 3D printing technology alongside Virtual Reality. We are on a mission to support the best cutting-edge and creative start-ups and are driving Hobs 3D commercial, cultural and educational impact initiatives. We are working across multiple industries including architecture, engineering, fashion, education, master planning, and the arts. Our VR artist in residence Hallidonto is developing new works here at our studios through the use of Tilt Brush which lets you paint in 3D space with Virtual Reality. The aim of this project is to promote and explore the convergence of 21st-century technology in the form of immersive VR with traditional Art practice; embodying notions of the classical with contemporary immersive and interactive technology.
My work is also focused on planning and the urban environment, the city and urban change. Our VR studios have recently taken Thamesmead London's New Town (one of the biggest master planning projects in Europe) into Virtual Reality, we are using new technologies that support greater community engagement in design embracing new tech to win the confidence of communities before a single brick has been laid. Through VR we are able to visualise proposed new housing from neighbour of home buyers perspective, with communities being able to see how a development can visually contribute to the area from a very early stage and even before planning permission has been granted.
What does your current job role entail?
I am the 3D Tech Lead at Hobs 3D, Hobs 3D is unique in providing a range of high-quality 3D solutions for architecture, construction, engineering and property development along with working with world-leading contemporary artists and creatives at our digital foundry and maker’s lab . Our specialists use the latest technologies in 3D printing, 3D Laser Scanning and 3D Visualisations VR/AR/MR and deep tech to support our clients in their design process.
Hobs 3D is also the UK’s largest 3D printing bureau, we have recently chosen Here East as our new London headquarters. Here East is already home to Plexal, Loughborough University London, and BT Sport. Along with Sports Interactive and Ladbrokes Coral who are also relocating to Here East campus. Ford Motors is set to open its European Smart Mobility Office and luxury fashion retailer MATCHESFASHION.COM has lined up new photography and filming studios.
We moved to Here East as we wanted to be part of East London’s thriving creative scene. Here East was the natural choice for our new headquarters as we looked to expand in the years ahead. We are looking forward to our affiliation with the Digital Engineering and Test Centre (DETC) and we are already collaborating with other tenants at Here East including Loughborough University and UCL. Our 3D academy with London Legacy and The Mayor of London seeks to reinforce core STEAM subjects along with creating social and economic opportunities and pathways into tech jobs.
How long did it take you to be where you are now?
I have been working in 3D printing/VR/AR/MR for over 6 years prior to that I worked in the creative industries with roles in Music and The Arts. I love to collaborate and have the privilege of being able to work across multiple industries, this includes working with architects, artists, storytellers, makers, and innovators - which is incredibly exciting. I also want to make sure that I pass the baton on to the next generation by supporting young people and especially young women that are interested in careers in technology STEAM. Recently I have had the enriching experience of working with some extremely talented young people as part of the Flipside program. The tech sector in London admits that it is still difficult to find enough people who have the right skills and Post-Brexit it has become really important to train local talent in the skills that the UK' growing tech sector requires. Where I am based over at Here East’s Creative Cluster in East London, we have a fantastic combination of young creative people, alongside a highly successful ecosystem of creative digital agencies, makers, academics and tech start-ups.
We are also about to launch our very own digital skills academy with the Mayor of London and LLDC at Hobs 3D, it is my aim to continue to connect local people to Tech career opportunities coming forward on the Queen Elizabeth Park and the wider areas across London.
What was the biggest obstacle?
All women should have the self-belief to put themselves forward and make their voices heard. How else will we inspire the next generation of women if we don’t set the examples ourselves? Another thing is to not be afraid to try new ways of working. It’s often on the untraveled path that we can discover the most exciting and interesting opportunities. That’s where ideas can take shape and evolve and where big breakthroughs happen, both emotionally and professionally. I would also highly recommend worrying less and being kind to yourself and everyone you interact with, spread positivity and embrace change.
What are your biggest achievements to date?
I have been very fortunate to work on so many exciting projects throughout my career in disruptive technology, recently with the portrait Artist Jonathan Yeo, Britain leading contemporary portraitist. Jonathan has recently created his first three dimensional work: The world’s first sculpture self-portrait, designed by hand in Virtual Reality and then cast in bronze.
We are also working with AI Build, a London based technology company focusing of large scale 3D printing using industrial robots and artificial intelligence to make in ways that were not too long ago were completely unimaginable.
Launching the UK Chapter of Women in 3D printing with Win3DP Founder, Nora Toure has also been such an inspiring experience. Women in 3D Printing is an organisation dedicated to promoting, supporting and inspiring women who are using Additive Manufacturing technologies. We are on a mission is to increase the visibility of women in the Additive Manufacturing industry and encourage more women to use 3D Printing technologies. I am also really looking forward to our potential collaboration with WoW next year!
I have enjoyed making the transition to the Olympic Park at Here East, this has been so inspiring, due to the size of campus and the opportunities to collide and connect across tech, academia, and with the arts and culture district that’s coming East with the V&A East, UAL and Sadlers Wells all joining us the potential social and economic impact that this ecosystem will have will be immense.
What does the #WomenInTech movement mean to you? What are the challenges of being a woman in 3D / STEM?
There are no self-derived challenges to being a female leader, my view is that women truly can do anything that they set their minds too in this world – and the list of our physical and intellectual capabilities is as long, if not longer than men. That being said, society is still adjusting itself to the dynamism, ambition and creativity of women, and women must cultivate personal resilience to adversity in the face of the sexism and inequality, however subtle or overt, we still experience.
I tend to focus on my own goals, and hope that my projects and achievements stand for themselves as testament to my abilities. Surrounding yourself with a supportive and diverse team, and staying close to other women in business and technology, is an important force of inspiration for me.
In your opinion, what will be the key trends in the 3D and STEM industry in the next 5 years and where do you see it heading?
Recent developments in Additive Manufacturing have focused on building better, faster, larger and more capable machines and on extending the range of new materials. And while it’s important to continue to innovate and increase manufacturing capabilities, the real transformative power of 3D Printing will not be unleashed by simply building bigger and better machines. The key to unlocking the next industrial transformation will be our true understanding of which applications benefit most from AM technology. In the future, machines and software will become more and more specialized and application-driven to meet very specific customer and industry demands. The potential is huge and very exciting.
As 3D printing technologies are continuing to mature, the focus will turn towards streamlining pre- and post-production processes. While a large segment of 3D-printed production tools and prototypes are ready for use nearly straight out of the machine, with minimal finishing, there’s also a huge number of end-parts that require complex finishing processes. This is not only labor-intensive, but also cost-intensive.
Industrial automation in the form of pick-and-place robotics has the potential to drastically raise efficiency by cutting both post-production time and costs. Pair that with software know-how, and I envision an automated post-production system that ensures traceability and speed without over-reliance on manual intervention. Software will also increasingly play a role in the automation of pre-production steps, as illustrated by the recent surge in interest in simulation software which is mostly driven by the rising adoption of Metal 3D Printing.
While Metal 3D Printing has already proven its vast potential for time- and cost-savings, the cost of wasted material due to build fails quickly becomes unaffordable and I expect simulation software will play an increasingly important role in predicting failures before they happen.
In the last few years we have seen 3D Printing claiming its position in supply chains. With faster lead times and tooling-free production, 3D Printing has proven to be a valuable technology for those applications that are traditionally resource-intensive. It also leads to leaner supply chains and fewer stock risks. 3D Printing will steadily increase its value in manufacturing supply chains in two ways: by enabling the creation of digital supply chains, which hold the promise of transforming entire business models, such as the hearing aid and eyewear industry; and by becoming more integrated in existing supply chains.
Collaboration is key to expanding 3D Printing to manufacturing industries. Increasing collaboration between existing players, such as hardware, software and service providers, will lead to optimised and easier-to-integrate product offerings, which will fuel adoption with more collaboration between the 3D printing industry and its customers.
Metal 3D printing
Metal 3D printing is developing rapidly, both in terms of lowering costs and increased adoption, Metal 3D Printing will never replace traditional manufacturing—but as a complimentary manufacturing technology, its position is becoming increasingly important. Looking forward, Metal 3D Printing will become more and more of a necessity when solving specific manufacturing challenges and creating customized, complex end-use products.
I am also excited to watch how things develop with the Lunar project. Foster + Partners are part of a consortium set up by the European Space Agency to explore the possibilities of 3D printing to construct lunar habitations. The practice has designed a lunar base to house four people, which can offer protection from meteorites, gamma radiation and high temperature fluctuations.
This project is ground-breaking in demonstrating the potential of 3D printing to create structures that are close to natural biological systems.
The Immersive economy in the UK has grown considerably with Immersive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) making a move from gaming into other areas like architecture, engineering and property. Immersive technologies and Rapid Prototyping could help the UK to increase productivity if barriers are overcome. Key policy initiatives such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund's £33, million investment in audiences of the future and commitment to the sector from key networks such as Innovate UK, the Digital Catapults, the High Value Manufacturing Catapult and research councils have a vital role to play in this process.
Who are your 3 inspirational women in tech?
Katherine Prescott – co-founder of Free D for her outstanding work offering expertly taught 3D printing courses to empower disadvantaged Women in finding long term employment.
Alex Ruil – VR 360 film maker, for being an incredible inspiration and a pioneer of VR and 360 film who is unafraid to try new genres and to promote the use of VR for Good.
Nora Toure – founder of Women in 3D Printing Global network, for promoting, supporting and inspiring women using additive manufacturing technologies all over the world.
Social media: @hobs3D
LinkedIn: Kadine James
This interview was conducted by Marija Butkovic, Digital Marketing and PR strategist, founder and CEO of Women of Wearables and co-founder of Kisha Smart Umbrella. She regularly writes and speaks on topics of wearable tech, fashion tech, IoT, entrepreneurship and diversity. Visit marijabutkovic.co.uk or follow Marija on Twitter @MarijaButkovic @Women_Wearables @GetKisha.