Katie Hardiman is an Additive Manufacturing Applications Engineer at the Irish Manufacturing Research, which provides information and support to manufacturing SMEs.
Nora Toure: Katie, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
Katie Hardiman: I studied Product Design and Technology in the University of Limerick which I absolutely loved, it was my first choice course for University, for me it was the right mix of Maths, Science, Art and Technical graphics all of which I enjoyed doing in school.
After spending 4 years studying there, learning CAD, Design thinking, problem-solving skills, product concept generation, and prototyping and product modeling, I started working for Centre for Industrial Services and Design in Athlone Institute of Technology not long after finishing University.
There, I started working with start-ups and industry helping to develop product concepts, create models and final prototyping where 3D printing was our main prototyping tool. We used SLA printing to make prototyping and indirect tooling, jigs, and fixtures for a number of projects and companies to get products to be ready for manufacture.
Conor Hayes, Dr.James Kennedy, and Dr.Declan Devine taught me so much about polymers, polymer 3D printing and design for manufacture, I really can’t thank them enough, their knowledge and experience in polymer industry in Ireland.
With this experience, I decided to specialise solely on 3D printing as manufacturing solution as I had previously seen so many good project ideas not make it due to the upfront cost of manufacturing, particularly start-ups and on the later end see multinational companies waste thousands on tooling for injection molding and lead times when small complex parts could be made cost effectively with additive manufacturing.
This led me to my current position with Irish Manufacturing Research (IMR). I work as an Additive Manufacturing Applications Engineer. In IMR we work with a wide range of industry from consumer products, medical device and automotive. Every day is different. We have a team of 8 researchers from different industry backgrounds which makes us so dynamic and have expertise in metal and polymer printing.
Nora Toure: What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
Katie Hardiman: My first ever experience with 3D printing would be in the Product Design and Technology Studio in the University of Limerick, they had a Stratasys Connex 500, which we were allowed to use for making finalized product prototypes.
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