Company Description:

RapidMade is a Portland, Oregon-based 3D printing, engineering, and manufacturing company that provides advanced solutions to help clients:

  • create products

  • accelerate development

  • improve quality

  • lower costs

  • increase sales

We offer:

  • rapid prototyping

  • reverse engineering

  • product design

  • low-volume production and tooling

  • sales, artistic and architectural models

  • customized promotional items

We use CAD files and 3D scans to produce custom:

  • parts

  • prototypes

  • patterns

  • tools

  • molds

  • models

With offices in Oregon and Maryland, RapidMade serves clients throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Contract CAD Designer/Drafter Description:

The contractor will modify, design, and prepare 3D models for RapidMade’s clients. RapidMade provides personalized service to all of its clients, so the ability to interact with customers is desired. An ideal candidate would also have previous experience with Netfabb or Magics 3D Printing software. Part time to begin, this position has the opportunity to develop into a full time engineering position (depending on experience, education, and performance).  

Contract CAD Designer/Drafter Duties:

  • Modify and/or design parts in SolidWorks
  • Prepare routine layouts, detail drawings, assembly drawings, sketches & diagrams, and details to include all views and dimensions necessary for manufacture or printing
  • Produce sketches and rough layout of design concepts
  • Compute angles, weights, surface areas, dimensions, radii, clearances, tolerances, leverages and location of holes

In a strange twist on bio printing, a UK artist is planning to 3D print a copy of his skull -- using powder from the ground-up skull of his deceased father. is reporting that Lee Wagstaff is defending his decision based on ancient precedent,

"bodily materials are, for him, simply art materials like ink, paint, or plaster.  He adds that in tribal art, materials like blood and bone are often used to create art."

While this is certainly true, it makes the idea no less controversial.  Remember the heated debate when "Bodies:  The Exhibition" (the display of resin-encased cadavers) started touring ?  At least its promoters could say there was a scientific value to the work.

Apparently, using the body as an artistic expression is a medium that Wagstaff is comfortable with.  He himself is covered in elaborate tattoos...

(Photo credit:

AuthorRenee Eaton

Excerpts from a post by Jeff Moad in Manufacturing Leadership:

Consider: The amount of total student loan debt in the U.S. has grown by 150% since 2005 and now sits at an estimated $1.2 trillion.

Consider: Of the estimated 3 million jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., it’s estimated that about 12% require a college degree.

Is it any wonder that most of us know at least one young person—a niece, a daughter, a friend’s son, a neighbor’s son—who has graduated from college carrying a significant debt load and is unable to find the job for which they thought they were being prepared?

Straight-talking TV star Mike Rowe recently described the situation very well. “We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back for jobs that don’t exist.”

Meanwhile, many manufacturers we speak with say they struggle to find young people ready and willing to move into a wide range of job openings, from CNC programming and operations to welding.

A big part of the problem is that, in the U.S. and other developed economies, mothers, fathers, and educators deprecate vocational education and manufacturing careers, steering all but the most academically underachieving students toward four-year college degrees.

In a recent poll conducted by the Edge Foundation in the UK, over a third of students who pursued a vocational route were advised by their school counselors that they would be 'more successful' if they chose the academic pathway, and almost a quarter were told that they were 'too clever' for vocational education. I suspect the results would be very similar in the U.S.

The assumption that a college degree automatically bestowed upon its holder a lifetime of greater financial success and career fulfillment was probably more true for earlier generations that it is today. It was certainly the message I heard over and over when I chose to enroll in university in the 1970s. Although I would become the first in my immediate family to earn a degree, there was never a doubt that I would attend a four-year college. A degree was seen as important evidence of upward mobility not just for me, but for the family.

The assumption that a four-year degree assures financial reward and indicates upward mobility is still there, but it lags reality in a couple of important respects. First, it overlooks the reality that not all young people are suited for, or interested in, an academic track and a white-collar career. Some are smarter about the physical world and better at making things. Forcing them onto a fiercely-competitive academic track seems short-sighted at best and cruel at worst.

At the same time, the assumption that a vocational education and a manufacturing career amounts to some kind of consolation prize is rapidly becoming outdated. With manufacturing output growing in many parts of the developed world, and with technology transforming manufacturing work, the opportunities—and attractive compensation—are there. It’s estimated, for example, that the average annual salary in the oil and gas industry is $98,000.

There are signs that this reality—and the need to reemphasize vocational education--are beginning to sink in. As word of the career opportunities in manufacturing spreads, more school districts are directing resources to redefining and increasing vocational education opportunities. An example in Oakland, CA, where I live is MetWest High School, which focuses on using internships to allow students to explore their passions and pursue careers that align with what they care most about.

A recent Next Generation Leadership survey by the Manufacturing Leadership Council also found that most manufacturers now are sponsoring internship problems of their own, a promising trend.

But the availability of internships and relevant vocational education still lags growing demand. A recent survey in Massachusetts by the Northeastern University School of Law, found that at least 3,500 students were unable to get into public vocational schools in the past two years, with the longest waiting lists in communities with high unemployment and large minority populations.

In New Bedford, where the 10.5% jobless rate is nearly double the state average, the Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School turned away more than 500 students because of lack of capacity.

This is a legacy of many years of disrespect directed by parents and educators toward vocational education and manufacturing careers. It’s time we all give vocational education and the people who make things for a living the honor and status that they deserve.


Sometimes it feels like a full-time job trying to stay abreast of technological breakthroughs in additive manufacturing.  According to, Princeton University researchers have successfully 3D printed a unique type of  "quantum dot LEDs composed of five different materials." 


Photo credit:


The bottom layer of each quantum dot LED is composed of silver nanoparticles, which are perfect for connecting the LED to an electronic circuit. On top of that are two polymer layers that push electrical current up toward the next layer. This is where the real ‘quantum dots’ are - they’re nanoscale semiconductor crystals, in this case cadmium selenide nanoparticles wrapped in a zince sulfide shell. Each time an electron hits these nanoparticles, they emit orange or gree light. The color can be controlled by changing the size of the particles. The top layer is a comparatively ordinary gallium indium that directs the electrons away from the LED.”

Frankly, none of this sounds ordinary to me, especially the idea that these quantum dot LED displays aren't subject to the oxidation and humidity issues of current versions.  Unfortunately, the 3D printed components don't yet rival the quality of these mass-produced LEDs either.   I'm also guessing the cost to manufacture them isn't yet competitive either.






AuthorRenee Eaton


17.4 million: Jobs supported by manufacturing in the United States

12: The percentage of manufacturing in the nation's GDP

$77,000: The average salary of manufacturing workers

$60,000: The average salary of entry-level manufacturing engineers

17: The percent of Americans who view manufacturing as a viable career choice

Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology, courtesy of Orange Count Register

My parents and brothers own a small box-making plant in Pittsburgh. When I was young, we would play in the scrap piles, sweep the floors, and do odd jobs to pass the time while our parents worked.  Because of this unique experience - and because Pittsburgh was a major steel producer - I knew that manufacturing was a good career choice - if you could get the work.  Unfortunately, it earned a bad reputation in the 70s, 80s, and 90s as more companies offshored and consolidated their production facilities.  I myself left the field to teach when I had to oversee Nabisco's Pittsburgh plant closing.

This experience is one reason I'm very excited about Additive Manufacturing (3D printing).  It uses advanced technology, requires high-skilled labor and conserves raw materials... things I hope will attract another generation of U.S. makers... but first, this generation will need to learn the skills required to design, scan and make 3D printed prototypes, parts, tools and models. Increasingly, schools, like some in Orange County, recognize the importance of ensuring enough workers have those skills.

According to Orange County Register reporter Tomoya Shamira, the Dean of the UC Irvine School of Engineering Dr. George Washington describes his students' experiences,

"Students at UCI receive training in a host of additive manufacturing technologies such as selective laser sintering and stereolithography."  

And this is fueling an interest in manufacturing... 

"CI engineering professor Marc Madou said 3D printing is helping young people become interested in manufacturing, partly because they can turn their design into a physical model quickly."

But not all jobs will require an engineering degree which highlights the need to partner with local community colleges as well...

"While advanced technologies are changing the manufacturing landscape, there’s growing demand for experienced welders and machinists as U.S. companies are bringing their manufacturing back home. Two-thirds of manufacturers said they couldn’t find qualified workers, according to a survey conducted by the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte Consulting."


This week marks Maryland's 4th Annual Economic Development Week.  The commemoration was launched on Sunday by the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) in Rocky Gap where it held its Conference & Showcase.  The two-day event focused on Advancing Manufacturing in Maryland.  In addition to featuring some of Made in Maryland's products, two keynote addresses detailed the trends of "Nextshoring" and "Reshoring."

Stree Ramaswamy, a Senior Fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute gave an update on the state of manufacturing in the U.S. and Maryland.  He suggested that, while the U.S. has recovered some of the manufacturing jobs lost in the past decade, Maryland has not been a beneficiary of these gains.  He believes one important factor in Nextshoring and Reshoring is the health of the supplier ecosystem - large manufacturers need local suppliers if they hope to bring back manufacturing.  He also argued that some possible interventions other countries have adopted could work here:  Singapore's investment in R&D, Germany's focus on worker training, China's decision to bring together suppliers and consumers through an on-line portal and Canada's creation of Technology Access Centers.

Sandy, Montalbano D'Amico, a consultant with the Reshoring Initiative, spoke about the hidden costs associated with offshoring.  She argued that firms need to consider the total costs incurred which include product quality, IP loss.  These types of challenges, when coupled with increases in overseas labor and transportation costs have led some firms to return to the U.S.

Recognizing the importance of Additive Manufacturing to Maryland's plan to improve its manufacturing base, there was a panel discussion on 3D printing:  Highlighting Innovation.  Jan Baum of 3D MD was the moderator.  Panelists Jeremy Wyckoff of Volvo Group Trucks, John Dankoof Danko Arlington Foundry and Guru Ram of Alio Designs talked about their use of 3D printing in their respective companies.



Sales Agency Opportunity

RapidMade is a fast growing Portland, Oregon-based 3D printing, engineering, and manufacturing company. We provide advanced solutions to help clients create products, accelerate development, improve quality, lower costs and increase sales. We are a consultative sales, business-to-business company serving clients throughout the U.S. and Canada.  We offer rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, product design, low-volume production and tooling, sales, artistic and architectural models, and customized promotional item services.

We are seeking an entrepreneurial sales agent who is familiar with 3D CAD, Scanning and Printing technology and how these technologies can be applied to creating parts, prototypes, patterns, tools, molds and models.

We are expanding our sales organization and searching for the right agent to represent the company in the Boise ID area. The Boise, ID territory (200-mile radius/serving I84 corridor from Pendleton, OR – Burley, ID and I86 to Pocatello, ID). You will have exclusivity to represent RapidMade in the territory and will receive a competitive commission rate for your services.  We provide extensive training, sales and marketing material, product samples, and access to our vast database of applications.

If you are looking to become part of the North American manufacturing renaissance, please apply to Renee Eaton, CEO at include your company name, relevant experience and information about your business.

AuthorRenee Eaton

The following is an excerpt from Valerie Brown's recent article on the potential health effects associated with 3D printing...  maybe one reason to leave the printing to professionals?

3-D Printing Is Getting Huge Hype, But It Could Be One Massive Health Risk

A study found the machines can emit high levels of ultrafine particles whose biological behavior and health effects are unknown.

September 23, 2014  |  

3-D printers can use a variety of raw materials, ranging from thermoplastics to metal and ceramic powders. Design-obsessed chefs will love the countertop model that can print any desired shape in sugar or chocolate.

Like the personal computer and the cell phone, 3-D printing appears to be irresistible. But the temptation to exploit the technology may lead enthusiasts to disregard important information. For example, a recent study found that desktop machines can emit extremely high levels of ultrafine particles (UFPs), also called nanoparticles (less than 100 nanometers, in the size range of viruses). The specific biological behavior and health effects of these particles are largely unknown, but other research on UFPs suggests caution.

Evaluating the safety of UFPs “should be of highest priority given their expected worldwide distribution for industrial applications and the likelihood of human exposure, directly or through release into the environment,” wrote Gunter Oberdörster, a professor in the Department of Environmental Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center School, in a 2005 reviewof nanotoxicology and UFPs.

The most common feedstocks are plant-based polylactic acid (PLA) and petroleum-derived acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). These come in spools of filament that are threaded into the machine and then melted and extruded out a nozzle that moves back and forth across a base. The whole contraption looks like a more complicated version of the machines that will etch your dog’s name onto a bone-shaped piece of stainless steel at the pet supply store. Free software is available to create a digital file that tells the printer what to do.

The temperatures necessary to melt 3-D feedstocks vary. PLA filament must be heated to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas ABS has to reach about 500 degrees. Whatever gases and UFPs are released during printing will come out into the ambient air unless the machine is attached to a ventilating and/or filtration system. Most inexpensive printers do not even have enclosures around the print surface.

Users describe the smells of printer operation in different ways. Shashi Jain, who organized a 3-D printer group in Portland, Oregon, says the ABS filament smells like a hot burner on an electric stove. The makers of the 3Doodler, a hand-held pen, assure potential customers that the smell of ABS is “less noxious than a permanent marker” and that PLA smells like corn.

These statements imply that because the emissions from 3-D printers do not have overwhelming and repellent odors, they are safe.

“One needs to be aware of what might come out of [3-D printers],” says Oberdörster. “There [is] reason for concern.”

UFPs are very common in the environment, from natural sources like forest fires and volcanoes and from human sources like engine exhaust. But regardless of their source, it iswell established that UFPs can trigger inflammation and cause serious cardiovascular and respiratory problems when inhaled, particularly for people with pre-existing heart or lung disease. Since 3-D printers are a new source of unintentional UFP production and some of their feedstocks like ceramic and metal powders are very new engineered nanomaterials, their health effects have not been studied.

Thus the thousands of “makers,” as 3-D printing enthusiasts call themselves, who set up in small businesses or their homes, don’t know exactly what risks they face. And assumptions about the chemistry and typical exposure scenarios for the feedstock materials in their typical forms may be far off base for 3-D printing, for an important reason: size matters.

In 2013 Brent Stephens, assistant professor of architectural engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, published a study of five typical 3-D printers in a retail store. The room was about the size of a “small bedroom,” Stephens says. He and his students measured the concentrations of particles in the room before the printers were operating, during operation, and during a post-printing resting phase. Peak particle concentrations when two PLA printers and three ABS printers were running simultaneously reached 150,000 UFPs per cubic centimeter – nearly fifteen times background levels. ABS printers emitted particles at ten times the rate of the PLA printers. None of the machines was enclosed.

It’s important to note, Stephens says, that in terms of UFP emission numbers, “3-D printers are right smack in the middle” of the pack of common devices, including toaster ovens, laser printers and air popcorn poppers. Popcorn seems benign, he says, so maybe 3D printers are harmless too – or, he adds, maybe it’s the other way around. “Could there be something we don’t know about popping corn?” he asks.

What materials do at “normal” scale doesn’t determine their nano-behavior. UFPs have much more surface area relative to their mass compared to their bulk forms. This not only changes their physical behavior, but it can affect their chemistry as well, says Oberdörster. For example, their extra surface area makes them more reactive than their bulk forms and more likely to catalyze chemical reactions.

This is worrisome, particularly regarding ABS. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified acrylonitrile as a probable human carcinogen and butadiene as a known human carcinogen. Styrene is deemed “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the National Toxicology Program. These ingredients are monomers that combine to form the polymer ABS.

Scott Lusk, director of plastics communications with the American Chemistry Council, says that makers are unlikely to be exposed to these carcinogens because “[W]hen monomers are reacted to form polymers the monomer is generally fully reacted into the polymer. So the potential for exposure to a monomer (even a hazardous monomer) from use of a polymer would ordinarily be expected to be quite low – if at all.”

But no one knows how ABS UFPs really behave in the body. They can move through the skin and lungs to reach the bloodstream. And there’s another disturbing property of ultrafine particles: when inhaled into the nose, they can travel through the olfactory nerve to the olfactory bulb in the brain. They can also move along neurons and spread into the cerebrospinal fluid, according to a 2009 review of research on UFPs and the brain by Oberdörster.

It’s the inhalation route that is the most concerning in the context of 3-D printing, because that’s a major route of exposure for makers, and because the olfactory route to the brain bypasses the blood-brain barrier, which protects that organ against most external bodily insults. Furthermore, as Oberdörster noted in his 2009 review, low-level but chronic inhalation of UFPs may lead to their “significant accumulation” in distant organs even if the transfer rate from the point of entry is low. So if a brain is exposed to a repeated parade of UFPs from a 3-D printer, what happens? Scientists do not know.

There is currently no governmental regulation specific to 3-D printing. The EPA does not regulate indoor air. The Consumer Products Safety Commission has not yet developed a policy regarding the equipment. The American Chemistry Council has not taken a position regarding the possible health risks of 3-D printing, says Lusk.

Nor are there occupational protections in place. The National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety “does not have any recommended limits for exposure of particulate matter,” says Celeste Monforton, an assistant professor in the department of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University in San Marcos, Texas “This is an example of technology moving ahead while our environmental and safety standards are back in the dark ages.”

That leaves the millions of excited and creative would-be users in a quandary.

Stephens would like to see further research on the actual composition of the emitted nanoparticles, including their toxicological profiles, as well as “more information on realistic exposures in real environments,” he says. If the results are problematic, he adds, “Let’s explore ways to build enclosures, add filtration systems, and [set] more stringent guidelines for use.”

In the meantime, there are some things 3-D printing practitioners can do at home or at work to mitigate the risks: buy an enclosed printer; ensure good ventilation in the room where the printer operates; and use a mechanical (non-electronic) air purifier with an ultra-low penetration air (ULPA) filter. These precautions must serve until regulations are in place or true replicators arrive, and either may be a long time coming.

Valerie Brown is an independent journalist based in Oregon's Willamette Valley. She has written about environmental health, climate, radiation, energy and other issues for numerous publications including Miller-McCune Magazine, High Country News, SELF, and Environmental Health Perspectives. In 2009 she was awarded first prize for explanatory print journalism by the Society of Environmental Journalists for her article "Environment Becomes Heredity" in Miller-McCune Magazine.