John Shaw’s interest in 3D-printing began when he got his first car.
Shaw drove a Nissan Altima, a model of car with a rubber strip that commonly loosens and disconnects from its place on the underside of the vehicle. The same problem happened to Shaw’s car, but when he approached a mechanic looking to repair the piece, he was told the auto repair shop did not keep those parts in-stock.
Shaw decided to literally create his own solution to the problem, and 3D-print a replacement part. The project was simple and successful and helped Shaw realize 3D-printing could help streamline engineering and manufacturing industries.
Now a fifth-year aerospace engineering student at Cal Poly, Shaw is working to improve the capabilities of 3D-printing in order to accelerate innovation within the manufacturing industry.
Shaw is founder of Hedron Design, a startup digitizing the supply chain to transform manufacturing into a platform. This is accomplished “by integrating quality control, automation and things like distribution in enterprise resource planning into [manufacturer’s] workflow,” Shaw said.
Shaw later brought the startup to the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Hatchery, an on-campus resource designed to help Cal Poly students develop their startup ideas.
The Hatchery provided Shaw with an introduction into entrepreneurship — a very different discipline than engineering.
“Being an engineer, everything is about the solution, and there’s usually only one set way to do things, and you’re expected to find a complete answer at the end,” Shaw said. “But with entrepreneurship, you can take so many different avenues and approaches to solving a problem.”
Shaw is also working alongside Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) student Adam Heymann to build Hedron Design.
The Hatchery connected Shaw and Heymann with mentors who can help them navigate the startup process. CIE director of student innovation programs and Cal Poly Orfalea College of Business lecturer Jose Huitron has been a valuable resource, Shaw said.
Huitron advises the Hedron Design team and “not only helps bounce ideas around, but validates that we’re doing the right things at the right time,” Shaw said.
Shaw said he hopes Hedron Design can create a greener manufacturing industry. Traditional manufacturing methods require large machines which cut down a base material into the shape of the part. 3D-printing, meanwhile, begins with fine materials which are built upon until the part is created, so “there is significantly less waste material,” according to Shaw.
Hedron Design has the potential to increase access to 3D-printing, creating a greener manufacturing space.
“The benefits of 3D-printing are not only economically awesome, but also benefit the environment,” Shaw said. “I want to see the future of manufacturing being greener, and I think what we’re doing with Hedron Design can genuinely help with that.”