Carl Robert Deckard
1961 - 2019
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DECKARD, Carl Robert 1961 - 2019 Carl Robert Deckard, inventor, sailor, skier, scuba diver, pilot, and player of the musical saw, passed away on December 23, 2019. He was the inventor of Selective Laser Sintering, which helped usher in the 3D printing revolution. He also invented the Deckard Engine and developed better polymers for use in 3D printing. Carl held 27 patents and was profiled by Fortune magazine as one of five modern technology pioneers, inducted into the Manufacturing Hall of Fame by Industry Week, and named a Master of Manufacturing by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers. Carl was born in Houston on June 20, 1961 and attended elementary school in Michigan, Ohio, and Port Arthur, Texas. When he was a child, his family struggled to keep a working clock in the house because Carl was constantly taking them apart to understand how they worked. From the first time he was asked what he'd like to be when he grew up, his answer was always, "I want to be an inventor," and even as a small child he proudly showed off his drawings of ideas for inventions. After attending junior high in Clear Lake City, Carl moved back to Port Arthur to live with his loving grandparents, and graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School. During his high school years, he was an avid member of the Sea Scouts, where he developed his lifelong love of sailing and benefited from mentoring that helped change the course of his life. He was an enthusiastic student in classes he enjoyed and an abysmal one in classes he found uninteresting. As a result, his high school transcript was a roller coaster of As and Ds, making his acceptance to the University of Texas questionable. True to form, Carl aced his SAT and made it in. At UT, Carl majored in Mechanical Engineering. During a summer internship, Carl started to think about a new invention: a way to fabricate parts directly from drawings by using a laser to fuse together powder in the shape of the part and building up the piece, layer by layer. By his senior year in 1984, he decided that he wanted to work on this idea for his Master's degree at UT. He approached a number of professors who told him why his idea would not work, but he ultimately found Dr. Joe Beaman, a young assistant professor in Mechanical Engineering, who supported his idea and agreed to mentor him in his graduate studies. Together they developed the process that became known as Selective Laser Sintering, one of the earliest and most enduring forms of additive manufacturing (commonly called 3D printing). The result of his Master's project was a Selective Laser Sintered plastic cube within another plastic cube. With the help of a grant from the National Science Foundation, he continued working on his invention for his PhD under the direction of Dr. Beaman. During that time, he met and married Sally Hall, and together they had two sons, Thomas and Michael. Carl's graduate work was so successful that UT agreed to license the technology in 1988, the first time that UT had entered into such an agreement. There followed a number of twists and turns on the path to converting his finicky lab machine into a commercial product, an effort that involved a number of gifted designers, engineers, and project managers. As the 3D printing industry grew, Carl turned his energies to an entirely new idea: a new design for a 4-stroke engine that was small enough to replace the loud and polluting 2-stroke engines currently used in lawn mowers and other small equipment. He worked with collaborators over a number of years to develop the Deckard Engine but, as often happens to inventors, was ultimately unable to recruit the investment needed to commercialize it. In recent years, Carl worked with his collaborators, Jim Mikulak and Vikram Devarajan, to invent new polymers for use in Selective Laser Printing, making it possible to make better quality 3D printed parts. Their company, Structure Polymers, Inc. was recently bought by Evonik. In addition to his passion for inventing, Carl loved the water. He competed in numerous sailing regattas, and he enjoyed living in Austin on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River. He also had a large group of friends from his softball and ski clubs. He loved music and was well known for bringing out unusual musical instruments at parties most notably his musical saw. He was soft-hearted and often rescued stray dogs and cats. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends. He is survived by his sons, Thomas; Michael and wife Chelsea; sister, Lucy; and ex-wives Sally and Kimberly. A celebration of his life will be held in January. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Austin Pets Alive at austinpetsalive.org/donate.

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Published in Austin American-Statesman on Dec. 29, 2019.
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30 entries
November 4, 2020
https://youtu.be/DQ4REYdCkTw

I think of you, my friend, every time I hear this.
Kimberly Whitener
Friend
November 4, 2020
https://youtu.be/DQ4REYdCkTw
Kim
Friend
April 11, 2020
I knew Carl and Sally only for a few years back in the mid-80's thru a UT student church association called Canterbury, but he made such an impression. I can still hear his voice as he described an engineering Prof's perspective on putting things you don't understand in a black box and accepting what comes out of it. And I remember him talking about his project about making the Star Trek replicator a real thing!
I saw his obit months ago in the paper and googled him to find out he was really pretty famous. The best part was finding a video of a short presentation, and he sounded just like I remembered, though he looked different w/o his long, dark brown hair. RIP, Carl.
Dale Crockett
April 7, 2020
I keep thinking of things I want to say. As of now, please know that I am absolutely devastated by your death. I only wish I could have done more for you...
March 19, 2020
Carl was one of my best friends at Clemson. He was the best kind of friend someone could have. He was generous with his time and knowledge - he taught me how to sail. He would celebrate successes, commiserate on set backs, and mentor on ways to improve. He was a lot of fun and walked to a different beat. He was brilliant for sure, but could hang with anyone. He was a Texan! He was an inventor and innovator! Hanging out with Carl was always an adventure, or at least some interesting conversation. He always had my back. He was a dependable friend. I was blessed to have caught up with Carl just this past year after many years had passed. Im grateful to have had those final moments. My world is emptier now without Carl in it. I miss you my friend. R.I.P.
Stacie Morales
Friend
February 17, 2020
I sure do miss my sweet friend
February 14, 2020
Carl was one of my best friends back in high school. The mischief we perpetrated should be in a book somewhere. He was a true friend. Carl was always up for an adventure whether it was hopping on our motorcycles or going sailing regardless of the weather. This spirit of adventure combined with his brilliance and compassion for others made Carl what he became in life. I know no one who was kinder and more caring of other people than Carl. Rest in peace, brother.
Floyd Kelly Bennette
February 14, 2020
Our graduating class just found out of Carl's passing, yesterday. I'm still in a state of shock ... Carl was a unique individual, super smart with a quirky sense of humor & part of the classmates that I hung out with. My sincere condolences to his family ... Carl, you will be severely missed.
Naomi (Arabie) Nelson
Classmate
January 27, 2020
such a brilliant mind. and loved to the end.
Sally Deckard
Spouse
January 14, 2020
Headed to the Austin Yacht Club Christmas party.
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Carl and Kimberly on the way to the Austin Yacht Club Christmas party
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Never pretentious, just down to earth Carl
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Carl loved to foster dogs through Austin Pets Alive
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Looking dapper in Amsterdam
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Sailing in the B. V. I.
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Carl loved trains.
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Walking Tiger in Red Bud Park
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Sailing the British Virgin Islands
Kimberly Whitener
January 14, 2020
Lunch on the River Walk in San Antonio
Kimberly Whitener
January 5, 2020
Katerra Knight
January 4, 2020
We have know Carl for about 30 years through sailing, first the Austin Hobie Fleet and then through the AYC. He was friendly, kind, helpful and humble. Just hanging out with him at the lake was always fun. We will miss him. Mike and Laurinda
Laurinda Rohrer
January 4, 2020
RIP Carl. You were a brilliant man and I'm glad we were friends. So sad that you are leaving the world at such a young age! No one can ever play the saw as you did!
December 30, 2019
Carl marched to the beat of a different drummer. While others talked about doing things, Carl actually did them. He packed a lot of accomplishments and living into his 58 years of life. He had an inventor's heart - always trying to make something better than what it was right now. He didn't always succeed, but he kept trying. Carl was truly a unique individual and I'm glad I had the pleasure of knowing him. Rest in peace Carl.
December 29, 2019
Carl was The Dude. Brilliant, laid-back, just a guy...he had it all. I was privileged to call him a friend for most of the last 20 years. May he rest in peace.
Andrew Tatton
December 29, 2019
My thoughts are with Carl's family and friends. He was a true genius.
Alice Zinni
Friend
December 29, 2019
When I was practicing law in Austin, I represented Carl on issues regarding his inventions. I found him to be one of the most intelligent persons I had ever met. His insights and knowledge helped us succeed. It is sad that he passed at such an early age. May his memory always be a blessing.
Richard Kammerman
December 29, 2019
For a number of years, when I was in practice in Austin, I represented Carl on issues regarding his inventions. I found Carl to be one of the most intelligent and thoughtful people I had ever met. His insights into the legal issues we faced were quite helpful in succcessfully handling his work. Very sad that he passed so young. May his memory always be a blessing.
Richard Kammerman
December 29, 2019
Richard Kammerman
December 29, 2019
There are so many crazy times with this guy that it would be hard to pin anyone down, especially because this totally caught me by surprise. One thing is for sure it was a pleasure to hang out with this guy whether it was work, play, he was quite a guy...
Steve Barnick
December 29, 2019
He was an interesting person to work with in graduate school. I remember his wild patterned shirts and brilliant insights.
Christian Nelson
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