RapidMade CEO Renee Eaton

RapidMade CEO Renee Eaton

Kudos to Oregon Business Magazine for its feature, Women’s Work, which details the chronic gender gap that continues in manufacturing. The article is based on interviews with female professionals in trade organizations, manufacturing firms, and higher education.

Together they show how improving gender representation requires a concerted approach from across the industry to reshape an institutionalized culture of gender-based segregation and redefine archaic norms of what work women can and cannot do.

Strategies proposed include:

  • Advising businesses that diversity will ease the labor shortage and improve the bottom line.

  • Promoting manufacturing careers to female students and professionals.

  • Providing supportive networks, like Women in Manufacturing and Oregon Tradeswomen, to help women secure employment and businesses find and retain female employees.

  • Breaking down the “bro culture” prevalent in manufacturing.

RapidMade CEO Renee Eaton, a Women in Manufacturing chair of its Oregon chapter was among the women featured in the article. RapidMade is a Portland-based additive manufacturing (3D printing) and engineering services firm.

Congratulations to Innovarai and Madorra Medical who are among Portland Business Journal's 2017 Small Business & Innovation awardees!  Their achievements will be recognized and their products showcased on November 1st from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. at the Portland Hilton Hotel.

Rapid prototyping and low-volume production, made possible through 3D printing (additive manufacturing), are lowering the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and start ups.  These advanced manufacturing technologies lower costs, reduce lead times, and optimize designs, making product launches more affordable and timely.

Growing up in Pittsburgh, if you weren't directly connected to the Steel industry, you complained about the rotten egg smell and pollution.  But when the industrial giants went silent in the 70s and 80s, the complaints shifted dramatically to the economic tragedy that was unfolding - the flight of life-long residents and well-paying jobs.   Rhetoric from the recent election aside, Pittsburgh's manufacturing base is both alive and well...

The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance (PRA) recently reported that in 2016 the manufacturing sector accounted for the most investment dollars ($6.1 billion), the most deals (50 companies expanding or relocating), and the most new and retained jobs (3,667).

But as we've continued to see, the type and number of jobs that have been created don't resemble those of the steel-era in any way.

“Manufacturing is the most active sector in southwestern Pennsylvania,” explains PRA President David Ruppersberger. “But as technology and automation continue to transform this legacy sector, the reality is that manufacturing facilities will be smaller-footprint, high-efficiency environments where fewer workers, with advanced skills including STEM proficiency, will produce more goods. This is a trend that won’t reverse at any time in the foreseeable future.”

Hearing of Pittsburgh's adoption of additive manufacturing and other advanced technologies is encouraging if the resulting economic turnaround benefits the greater community.

 

Our friends at Direct Dimensions in Owings Mills, Maryland, will be "creating a 3D CAD model" of the Roberto Clemente Bridge in our hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The resulting files will then be used to create 3D prints of the bridge for an upcoming RAPID + TCT show being held in Pittsburgh in May.

Pittsburgh, long recognized for its sports accomplishments, is becoming well known as a Center of Excellence in Additive Manufacturing as well.



 

RapidMade especially enjoys working on projects designed to improve the lives of others.  And we are thrilled when we get to see them "in action."  Recently SweetSense asked us to 3D print SLS parts that were used to produce remote sensors in Kenya that allow residents to better maintain water supplies and sanitary latrines.  

According to Taylor Sharpe, SweetSense is a "social enterprise" that is a spin-off of the Portland State SWEET Lab and partners with other agencies to provide high-tech solutions to problems faced by residents in developing countries.  

...in one case monitoring boreholes (deep water pumps that service 100s to 1000s of people) in Isiolo and Turkana counties in Kenya; and in the other case helping manage collection routines and operator issues of Sanergy Fresh Life latrines in the Mukuru informal settlements outside of Nairobi, Kenya.

For one of its initiatives, it has partnered with Sanergy to produce a

rugged enclosure that contains an occupancy sensor and am RFID reader, to respectively estimate the fill level of latrines before conversion to fertilizer and to give Fresh Life Operators a direct line of contact with Sanergy HQ in the case of emergencies.

In another, the Sat Spacer, SweetSense worked with Kenya RAPID...

RapidMade parts were used to allow SweetSense to provide satellite-based monitoring in areas with no cellular coverage.
Posted
AuthorRenee Eaton
 
Click image to read case study.

Click image to read case study.

One of the juicier projects we've had involved 3D scanning real 10-lb crabs to recreate life-like replicas for Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour.  The captain and his crew take tourists out on the high seas in the summer to watch them work.  Unfortunately, they were losing much of their inventory recreating their catches - this was both costly and unsustainable.

Once we 3D scanned the real thing, we 3D printed a master pattern which was used to create a mold.  The mold allowed RapidMade to cast the crab look alikes in urethane rubber.  See the results here.

RapidMade's founders were recently interviewed by U.S. News and World for an article explaining how 3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, has helped entrepreneurs innovate.

Here's an excerpt from the story which was published on line this week:

Renee and Mark Eaton, with their son Micah Chaban, founded RapidMade, a 3-D printing, manufacturing and engineering company, based in Portland, Oregon, in 2011. About to graduate from the University of Oregon, Chaban told his parents he was contemplating job searching in Germany. Living in England at the time, the Eatons had read an article in “The Economist” on 3-D printing and the idea for RapidMade was born.

’We had both worked in manufacturing for years and were disheartened that so many kids were gravitating to lower-paying service jobs because high-tech manufacturing jobs either weren’t well known or readily available,’ Renee Eaton, chief executive officer of RapidMade, wrote in an email.

’During our careers, we had both been forced to close or downsize plants and relocate production, so we wanted very much to bring back manufacturing. We thought Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) was a great local and sustainable way to do that.’

She explained that entrepreneurs can develop and evaluate a design in little time with rapid prototyping and that by using 3-D printing to create tools, they can decrease lead times and cost. Most of RapidMade’s customers are new to 3-D printing, and the company’s engineers can help determine the best technology to create a product from a design, she wrote.