Manufacturing Memories, Creating Careers

By Donovan Weber

I remember the smell of galvanized. The way the center of my teeth felt as the machined threads grasped each other and grooved together.

My brother and I had spent the morning in a perfectly dingy, small town hardware store. It must have been 1979. We had loaded up in Grandpa’s old Chevy truck and we were off on a mission to no longer have to hand-water this spot of lawn but to build a section of sprinkler that would handle the area. Our mission was to custom manufacture a perfect solution to a unique issue, and there was much thought that went into that early summer day that formed my career.

My grandfather was a machinist. He started his career after World War II in his hometown of Detroit and then moved the family to Los Angeles. He spent his retirement days in the small rice farming community of Biggs, California. I remember many projects there that we did together, but that particular day, cutting pipe threads and making custom sprinkler sections really put some wrinkles in my brain.

The idea of a specific need and dialoguing on a solution … drawing up a plan and executing it … the mechanical pleasure of those sprinkler heads coming to life that day as the water pressure coursed through them …

Mechanical engineering and physics in motion all lit my imagination on fire.

My brother and I started Forecast 3D, an additive manufacturing-focused prototype shop, in 1994. This was after I learned the basics of machining in a machine tool technology program in college. I can honestly attribute what we did that day to putting me on my career path.

We are hosting a Manufacturing Day event at our newly opened 3D manufacturing center, showcasing the largest install in the United States of HP’s all-new 3D printers. Take your kid, a neighbor, anybody you think might be inspired to find their passion in the world of manufacturing.

But if you don’t make it this Friday, just look to involve them in a project from its inception. Take them through the design, explain the physics, engage them in the mechanical thought process and build something together. You just might light the kid’s imagination on fire and put them on a career path.

Donovan Weber is the COO of Forecast 3D. Next time you’re in Southern California, stop by and say hello.

Mike Rowe