Girl Gang Garage has partnered with Stratasys to fully “3D” their latest project.
If you’re not familiar with Girl Gang Garage, it promotes females in auto trades by coordinating all-female auto build projects. They explain how it came to be:
“Girl Gang Garage is a catalyst for gender diversity in the male-dominated automotive industry. In 2016, long-standing TV host and proponent for female empowerment in the trades, Bogi Lateiner began an all-female “Chevy Montage” truck build. The response was overwhelming, highlighting an undeniable need within the industry and want from women at large. She soon partnered with Shawnda Williams, design technologist and strategist, to found Girl Gang Garage. Girl Gang Garage now hosts more than 200 women a year in various project builds and professional development opportunities.”
Here’s a short video from 2019 of Lateiner explaining the project:
I had a short chat with Lateiner and Williams to find out more about this year’s project, which is quite a bit different than their usual build.
This year’s major project is a 1960 Volvo rebuild, and the completed vehicle will be displayed at this November’s SEMA Show in the BASF booth for the automobile trades in Las Vegas. Of course, the build will be completed entirely by Girl Gang Garage’s female team, and will become their third auto build.
The project, which is currently underway, will eventually involve close to 200 individuals at the project’s Phoenix workshop. I asked Williams how the project recruits participants. Williams explained:
“We recruit through social media, and look for any who are willing, able and interested to come. We have lots of automotive workers, but some are completely outside the field.
Some are local, and schedule it like a job, say, every Thursday. Other women will come to spend a week or weekend. We take them through an introduction to the segment we’re currently working on.”
Normally contact is made through their website, and participants are routed through to the project’s scheduler. During the pandemic they’ve been using appropriate COVID-19 protocols for all work performed.
What happens with the completed vehicle? Williams explained:
“In a normal world, we’d take the car on tour because it’s an amazing marketing tool. You can show people the output – it’s extraordinarily more than just a powerpoint! They are great activation tools.”
I asked Williams what they are trying to achieve with the project:
“The key component is changing minds, alter perceptions, and re-evaluate their thinking. The auto industry is dealing with a major staff deficit, there’s not enough people to fill spots, and 50% of the population could hold those positions. We’re not just tapping with wrenches, either. Cars are now computers, and this lets us access a much wider audience.”
I asked Lateiner how she feels about the project:
“It fills my cup. This is what I live for, all the pain and challenges. Hearing feedback from women and guys who see the builds and support us, it’s awe-inspiring!”
When the project started in 2017, Lateiner didn’t expect so much support, but she’s been overwhelmed with the results. In a noticeable way, she’s achieved some of her goals. She explains:
“Many businesses are now saying yes, bringing in diversity and investing. We’re bringing industry to the 21st century, and this was not the attitude previously.”
How did Stratasys get involved? It turns out they were referred to Stratasys by Jay Leno, quite an auto aficionado himself, and someone that’s long worked with Stratasys.
Stratasys wanted to supercharge the technology used by Girl Gang Garage, and has provided access to several technologies and associated expertise.
Specifically, they’ve provided the project with an onsite F370 industrial 3D printer, able to 3D print almost any part type in several different materials. They’ve also provided a handheld 3D scanning solution through their local partner, PADT. The project is using 3D scanning to reverse engineer old parts and create jigs for assembly.
While this is Girl Gang Garage’s third auto build, it is their first time integrating advanced 3D technologies.
Fortunately, PADT is providing on-the-ground support to introduce the concepts and begin training for 3D scanning and 3D printing using the provided equipment. This has made the integration a lot easier than it would have been on their own.
Williams explained they intend on using the 3D equipment on future projects, after having seen what they can do. She said:
“We can integrate it with our previous builds. For example, our kick panels, speakers, etc. are less desirable, but we can do them again with far better materials. This technology has unlocked unimaginable opportunities!”
The 3D printing will be mostly in ABS material, but the F370 can also 3D print in ABS-CF and flexible TPU. So far the project has found TPU to be of great utility, as they’ve used it to make flexible masks and even gaskets.
Stratasys told us that should the project require 3D print technology beyond the F370, they are prepared to do so via their Stratasys Direct service, which currently operates a wide array of advanced 3D printers, even those not made by Stratasys.
Williams is particularly excited to make some taillights using Stratasys’ full color PolyJet technology.
The Volvo rebuild project is underway and they’re planning on painting the Volvo some time in September in advance of the November SEMA show. I’m going to keep watch on this very important project and provide an update closer to the show.