Sometimes we know what we’re shaping – a boat deck, a big surfboard, a massive wind turbine blade – and sometimes we don’t. Normally, when that is the case, it’s because of confidentiality issues. But when Piaggio Fast Forward contacted us about an autonomous “intelligent and nimble cargo vehicle“, it was just because no one knew what this thing was.
Piaggio Fast Forward is an arm of the Piaggio Group, Europe’s largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles. They set up shop just outside of Boston, and got to work on ” pioneering the intelligent movement of people and goods at just the right scale: larger than aerial drones but smaller than cars and trucks.” The team came to Symmetrix with some videos, a few ideas, and some drawings. They asked for a direct to mold with limited use to use for their prototyping. Over the next few months, with the support of our friends at Leading Edge Composites, Symmetrix provided the tools needed for Piaggio to create their self-driving suitcase prototype.
The buzz has been exciting around this innovative technology – from Wired to The Economist to the Wall Street Journal. Future plans include commercial production and a new, slightly larger sibling for the Gita – the Kilo. We wish them the best of luck as they work towards their autonomous cargo vehicle.
Please join us in congratulating Clare Evans on her promotion to general manager of Symmetrix Composite Tooling. Clare has been with Symmetrix since 2013 in the role of business development, focusing on sales & marketing, giving her a complete understanding of our customers and their needs, as well as our process, our vendors, and of course the guys on the shop floor. That wealth of experience, combined with her MBA, make Clare the perfect choice to run the company.
As general manager, Clare will be responsible for running the day to day operations. She will continue to work in her marketing and business development roles.
The creation of the General Manager position allows for president John Barnitt to focus on sales and customer support. It also means he can start to take off Sundays.
In June of 2016, Symmetrix starting crafting tooling for MJM Yachts. Designed by Zurn Yacht Design and to be built by Boston Boatworks, the MJM35z will be a “better performing outboard” built using a wet prepreg, post cure epoxy composite structure. What Symmetrix saw was a complex project requiring patterns and molds varying sizes and construction – from traditional Class A FRP tooling to Light RTM – calling for attention to post-cure temperatures, non-skid application, and careful project management. Early discussions centered around the tight schedule and material perimeters. Symmetrix’s agile team kept the line of communication open between Zurn, MJM, and Boston Boatworks, and over the course of the build, our sales, engineers, and production teams exchanged phone calls, emails, and even texts to make sure all parts were moving along as intended.
In the end, Symmetrix produced over 50 patterns and their correlating molds. As the last pieces make their way to Boston, we look forward to our invite for the test run around Boston Harbor.
Symmetrix Composite Tooling was awarded the Non-Traditional Apprenticeship Development Grant by the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island. With the help of Apprenticeship Rhode Island, Symmetrix is designing an in-house workplace development program that will include both in-house and off-site instruction.
As the grant outlined, “considered to be outside of the skilled trades, Non-trade apprenticeships are increasingly being recognized as effective pathways towards careers that offer family-sustaining wages and pathways from entry level to middle skilled or professional careers. The Apprenticeship model is now being utilized around the country in non-traditional occupational areas.” Our non-traditional application is composite tooling. The craftsmen at Symmetrix must have competency in both digital fabrication on a large scale as well as old school composite tooling techniques. Through collaborations with our vendors, local trade schools, industry associations, and instruction from our in-house experts, Symmetrix craftsmen will have in-depth education in all aspects of our production process.
“The program has two goals. The first is to develop our team of craftsmen so we can better support our customer. The second is to show a pathway of advancement to our team members based on knowledge, skill, and repetition,” says John Barnitt, Symmetrix President.
The grant from the Governor’s Workforce Board of Rhode Island will go towards writing the program’s curriculum. Symmetrix hopes to have the program up and running by fall.
Please help us in welcoming Steve Dennis to the team of Symmetrix Composite Tooling as Shop Manager. Steve has spent a lifetime behind the tools at various boatbuilders around Rhode Island. He comes to us with a vast experience of fiberglass work and a strong, authoritative tone. He has quickly fit in as a welcome resource, keeping track of the many jobs moving through the shop. While we gave him is own office and promised we wouldn’t make him get his hands dirty, he can’t help but jump in where needed.
Steve’s hiring allows for Sean Lane to advance to Operations Manager. Symmetrix works to stay in the forefront of pattern and mold technologies. Sean’s new position allows him to research new technologies, materials, and methods for Symmetrix to keep improving.
The World’s Largest Surfboard is also our Most Documented Project. Management took a trip out west in January for the premier of this documentary. Reports are that “I’ve never looked better or sounded more intelligent.” If that’s not a reason to keep an eye out for the release, I don’t know what is.