Jaime van Kessel - Software Architect

"Our software makes the 3D printing technology accessible to the world. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will."

Almost nine years ago, I joined Ultimaker as a junior software engineer. Since then, I grew into the role of a software architect. Even after all these years, I still feel the magic of Ultimaker. A 3D printer never fails to surprise me. I think we are all still amazed that we have this technology where you can decide that you want to have an object and sometime later it’s there. Almost like a magician pulling a rabbit out of his hat.

The largest open-source printing software in the world

I work on Cura, which is one of the big differentiators for Ultimaker. This is the most popular open-source 3D printing software in the world. At the heart is its powerful slicing engine which creates 4 million slices a week. That’s millions of objects that suddenly come into the world because of our software. Since this is open-source, 90% of our users are not even Ultimakers customers. Thanks to Cura, we make this technology accessible to the world. If that doesn’t excite you, I don’t know what will.

This also puts our software team in a unique position, since we also accept third-party contributions. These are people who make 3D designs for a hobby or another company. They write codes, make designs, or add machine profiles. Now, we have more than 200 different machines that are added. So, a big part of our job is to get in touch with these people on a regular basis to find out what they need and how we can help them.

In my role, I make sure that we think and communicate about the technical problems and their solutions. I like to have a forward vision and think about our current state, where we want to go and how we will get there. Of course, this is not just my decision. We determine this together with the entire team. Maybe that’s a bit like the Dutch ‘polder model' where we always strive for consensus. To me, this is very important. Especially since the company has a high ambition to grow. And when the business grows, the complexity and the problems that we must solve grow. This also allows me to continuously develop myself.

Our empowering hackathon 

One of my favorite moments at Ultimaker is our hackhaton. Everyone gets a set amount of time and the only requirement is that you have to design or make something that benefits Ultimaker. That’s it. Even if everybody doubts your idea, no one can stop you. A lot of great innovations came from that. To me, this is so empowering and a huge sign of trust.

Besides that, I also love our Thursday evening. Here you get the chance to build cool things for yourself. A lot of people stay and work on their hobby projects. We are allowed to use every fancy tool in the workshop, even our lasers. I think that’s very cool.