Zn original Prusa printer on a marble counter top. The printer is working on two white pieces.

Redesigning Today’s Work Space

Here at Pump Studios, we take products from ideation, to prototype, to production every day. We constantly design, prototype, test, re-design, re-prototype, re-test and repeat to make sure we find the best solution for our clients. Sometimes we are creating a new solution to a problem, other times we are redesigning an existing product to better meet the needs of the current market, in any case, our iterative process is key.

One year ago, we had the opportunity to redesign the product closest to us – our work space.

Our Work Space, Version 1 – The “Before”

We were (and still are) a small, collaborative team of mechanical engineers. Work was simple:

  • Need to ask a question or just chat? Turn your chair in *any*direction to speak with your coworkers.
  • Need to brainstorm some ideas for a project? There are two conference rooms with plenty of paper, markers, and whiteboards.
  • Need to build or test prototypes? Walk 10 steps to the workshop abundant with power tools, hardware, and electrical equipment.
  • Need a rapid prototype? There are  three 3D printers to choose from.
  • Need a midday pick me up? We’re well-stocked in Texas Pecan coffee, granola bars, and Little Debbie snacks.


Working in the office everything was within arm’s reach – the tools, materials, and the people.

Our Work Space, Version 2 – The “Now”

Now things are certainly different. My coworkers are one chat message away on Google Hangouts. Our collaborations take place via Google Meet and Miro. My home “workshop” is now only a drill, assorted screwdrivers, and a hammer. Sure, my 2D printer doesn’t work quite as well as a 3D printer, but it does print in multiple colors! My favorite improvement is that the kitchen is now closer to my desk, and the snacks are a bit more to my individual liking.

Like many others, we’ve learned to adapt and work with the new circumstances. Some things intuitively worked out , or we found workarounds, but as engineers we knew we could do better. So we redesigned.


Early on, we realized what we missed most from the office — the 3D printers. It wasn’t realistic (or safe) to go into the office every time we had to start a print, and with only a few printers (one Ultimaker, one Taz, and a broken BCN 3D printer), there were not enough to go around.

Three 3D printers and accessories. From the left to right: a white Ultimaker 2, a Lulzbot Taz and a sig 3D printer.

Fortuitously, in the beginning of 2020 before the start of the pandemic, one of our coworkers had purchased a Prusa i3 MK3S+ 3D printer that he kindly let everyone use whenever there was a high demand for printing. Honestly, we often asked to use it purely for the exceptional quality prints it produced. After a second coworker purchased their own Prusa, we realized these devices might be the answer to how we prototype from home. We purchased and welcomed three new Prusa I3s and a Prusa Mini printer to our family.

Pump Studios' current office, with 7 3D printers lines up on the lunch table and the counter behind.

We now have more printers readily available to check out from the office and bring home. The Prusa’s small frame makes it easy to transport, without sacrificing printer bed size and unlike other printers, they require very little calibration (which makes printing between work environments seamless). Another great perk is the removable and flexible printer bed — no more risk of injuring yourself while scraping off a print.

If you don’t mind the neon orange and black color scheme, these printers print like an engineer’s dream. You can see this in action, as they print away on our kitchen counters, spare tables, or in their own custom box (complete with LEDs and acrylic doors).

Two original Prusas set up in living areas. The left is a black Prusa set up in an enclosed container with a thermometer. The right is a Prusa printing a white print on a counter top.


Brainstorming during a pandemic has surely changed the way we collaborate and share our ideas:

  • One method is the “sketching on a piece of paper and holding it up to the webcam and hoping your colleagues can see”.
  • A personal favorite is the “taking a picture of your sketch and emailing it to yourself to then screen share to your colleagues”.
  • A third, or more elegant solution, is buying iPad Air tablets and Apple pencils for everyone.


Using our iPads, we can sketch and collaborate on the same document using Miro, while talking to each other through Google Meet. Miro is a web and app based tool that we use as our virtual white board. We can drop images, sketch and take notes in real time.

Some, if not all, of us have made the transition between physical design notebooks to using Good Notes on our tablets to keep digital journals. These journals can even be shared and used as another tool for (almost) in real time brainstorming.

These tablets have changed how easily we  communicate and share ideas not just with each other, but our clients as well. Now when we meet with clients, in or out of the office, we can easily take pictures of products and sketch our ideas over top, much easier than drawing freeform. These tablets help us work hard and on occasion play hard as well (we have admittedly all played a couple rounds of Human Fall Flat together).

Tiered printer farm housing 3 Prusas, 1 mini Prusa, 1 Ultimaker, 1Lulzbot Taz 3D printer.

Our Work Space, Version 3 – The Future: Prototyping and Collaboration

Collaboration with clients whether they are local or across the world doesn’t always mean the sharing of 2-dimensional ideas, but physical prototypes as well. We often find ourselves shipping prototypes or couriering them across town (often at much greater expense than the cost of the prototype).  One of our long-standing clients had engineers working from Austin, New York, and Taiwan, which made sharing prototypes even more challenging.  Having heard how well the Prusas worked for us, they asked us to help set up their own fleet of Prusa printers to make working from home more efficient. By supplying their engineers and designers around the world with printers, collaboration has become easier. Instead of having to ship prototypes we can just email STL (printable format) files instead.

One large resource that we couldn’t quite bring home was our workshop. The large power tools, electrical equipment, and workbenches certainly do not fit into our cars (or in some of our apartments). For more than half of the pandemic year, we managed what we could at home. Now that we are able to use the office (in compliance with the CDC guidelines), we developed a new resource to manage the blended “work from home and from the office” style. Our “In The Office” calendar (a spinoff of our “Out Of Office” calendar) helps us track and manage when and who will be in the office.

As we start to move forward, tools like these will certainly stay with us as our workspace evolves to meet the demands of the world we live in. And who knows? Maybe one day Pump Studios will engineer a way to transport our workshop anywhere…

The Tools We Use:

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Libertad's Box cut in half with the 2D CAD version.

Design Challenge pt 2

In preparation for our two junior interns this summer, we tested their design challenge on ourselves. It was a rush, getting through all the steps of the design process; brainstorming, sketching, CAD, prototype iteration all in just one week to match Amrutha’s and Valeria’s short time with us. We originally gave the Pump Studios team the challenge of designing a 4” x 6” x 2” container, consisting of at least two parts, that could hold two tools. The requirements were set to help reduce printing size and accommodate a fast turnaround time. As we all got going, we found relaxing

Amrutha and Valeria holding their 3D printed tool boxes.

Pump Studios’ Design Challenge

In May, Pump Studios took part in the Ann Richard’s, School For Young Women Leaders, junior internship week.  We had the opportunity to host two high school juniors and provide them with real-world work experiences in an educational context. Throughout their week with us, the two girls were tasked with creating a “toolbox” that held at least two tools and had two functioning parts. We defined tools loosely. The girls were asked to bring in “tools” they use in their daily life or hobbies that they would like to create a box around.  Below are Amrutha’s and Valeria’s experiences in making

Screwdrivers on a peg board.

Tools: A Love Story

Let’s take a moment to give a shout-out to an important part of Pump’s team. No matter what needs to be done, they’re always in the shop (sometimes even working outside in the Texas heat), ready to go, and they never complain. A few of them have been around longer than anyone remembers, and will be for years to come. We’re talking about our tools, of course.  It’s no secret that engineers love tools. We love using the new ones, the old ones, the big ones, and the small ones. Some are passed down as family heirlooms, and some make