Clara Remacha is a Strategic Accounts Project Manager for HP’s 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing business, where she is responsible for working with customers to drive production applications in large scale additive manufacturing using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. Most recently, Clara led P’s COVID-19 application development out of Barcelona, Spain, where HP quickly mobilized its 3D printing technology to help hospitals with access to critical parts. Clara worked in real-time with medical professionals to determine technical feasibility of 3D printing applications and put initial parts in doctors hands in 48 hours. A core member of HP’s 3D Printing & Digital Manufacturing business since its inception, Clara was a part of the team who launched HP’s first 3D printer and has spent the last four years helping customers and partners turn ideas and designs into real 3D production applications across multiple industries including industrial, automotive, medical, and consumer goods.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering from UPC, Barcelona, an International Master’s in Management from EADA Business School, as well as an MBA from the University of San Diego, California. She’s also an athlete, who competed professionally in track & field for F.C. Barcelona for several years.
Clara, could you let us know briefly about your background and your journey into Additive Manufacturing?
My background is in Industrial Engineering but early on in my career I decided to complement it with an MBA, and that brought me from Barcelona to San Diego, California. As I was finishing my studies there, I was unclear on what career I wanted to pursue when I came back to Barcelona, so I decided to go on a one week discovering trip to Silicon Valley. I sent hundreds of emails to random people working in the valley with the objective to have a conversation with them and understand what they did and what they loved about their jobs. From those conversations, three things became very clear to me: 1) I wanted to work for a technology company; 2) in a mixed role between technical and business in which we were creating something new; and 3) using a technology or a product that inspired me. What HP was trying to do in 3D Printing checked all my boxes so that’s really how I got into Additive Manufacturing.
You led HP’s responses to COVID-19. Could you share more details about HP’s response, the parts you’ve helped manufacture and the impact they had?
In my life pre-COVID I was part of a market development team, led by Scott Schiller, that was focused on understanding the use of 3D printing in the medical space. Thanks to the connections that we already had with hospitals we were able to quickly identify the need and start working hand in hand with doctors and nurses to develop applications that would help them fight COVID-19. In a matter of a day, we assembled a team of HP volunteers, set up a website where internal and external people could suggest application ideas and request parts, and started developing several applications. The first applications we launched were a mask strap adjuster, and a hands-free door opener designed by Materialise. In parallel we were working on more complex applications like face shields, CPAP connectors, FFP2 masks, swabs, respirators, and other respiratory devices components that we were able to also certify and bring to the front lines. The team has been working 24/7 for nine weeks now, and as we start to overcome the pandemic it’s impressive to step back and realize how much we have accomplished.
Together with our customers and partners we produced more than 2.3 million 3D printed parts to battle against COVID-19.
It’s hard to measure the magnitude that these parts had for those in need. I don’t think any of us imagined the impact that we were going to have when we started. The objective was never to save the world or to print millions of parts. From the beginning the objective always was to try to support the front lines the best we could so that they could save lives. We started to collaborate extremely closely with these front lines, printing, iterating and testing from one day to the next, and very early, we started to put specific names and faces to our objective. We just wanted to protect the people we were working with day and night, and their colleagues, and that became our obsession. Focusing on that much more achievable goal allowed us to meet deadlines we didn’t think were possible before, like going from an idea to production of face shields in 48 hours or validating a medical device (CPAP connector) or a FFP2 mask (PPE) in a matter of weeks. To me, the measure of the impact we had lies in the thank you notes that we received from healthcare workers. The biggest measure for me is to receive a note from a doctor that thanks the team that worked on developing the CPAP connector for “offering people the opportunity to stay alive.”
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?
I joined HP exactly the same week (May 2016) that HP launched to the world their first 3D printer, the HP Jet Fusion 4200 series. Being exactly as old in the company as the first 3D printer kind of gives me superpowers!
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman 3D Printing?
I wouldn’t call it challenges, but I certainly have had experiences where I am the only woman in the meeting.
Overall though I think I have been lucky because I have had the opportunity to work very closely with so many brilliant women at HP so that seeing women rock in 3D printing is now kind of normal to me. There is still a gap and it’s everyone’s responsibility to be aware, mindful and put their grain of sand to close it; just as it’s our responsibility to keep rocking.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
What impresses me the most about 3D printing is that it empowers everyone on Earth to be a designer. Now you have a tool that empowers everyone to materialize their creativity and produce things. I didn’t specialize on Mechanical Design when I was at university, and had not opened a CAD software since then, when one day I decided that I wanted to design, print and assemble an electric guitar for my father’s 60th birthday. 3D printing allowed me to design from scratch and personalize the body of an electric guitar, assemble it to a traditional neck along with the electronics, and have a functional, working guitar printed with HP Jet Fusion 5200 for my father on his birthday in less than a month. That society-wide empowerment will bring the world products that we never thought about, and that’s pretty impressive in itself.
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
I would say this is probably one of the coolest industries you can ever work in.
The 3D printing industry embodies a combination of engineering, design, mindset change, behavioral science, and innovation that makes it very special. If you want to work at the intersection between beauty of design, performance and engineering, and challenge of thought; this is your industry.
When starting in 3D Printing, I would say forget everything you know, and listen carefully to the early stories of the people who gave birth to this industry, because you will find that people are very open to share, to collaborate, and to add a new #3DPioneer to the boat.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
With 3D printing at the intersection between beauty and design, performance and engineering, and challenge of thought, many women should be naturally attracted to this industry. The fundamental problem relies on awareness at young (but also adult) ages. It is very important that kids at schools start to be able to play with 3D printers, because if that happens, in the next 10-15 years, we will see a wave of women willing to enter the industry from all types of roles. Awareness is our most limiting factor but also our biggest multiplicator ally.
Favorite 3D tool? HP Jet Fusion 5200.
Favorite moment in your day job? The beginning of a 3D project with a customer: a new project brings the possibility of a completely new product that couldn’t exist before and that first explanation by the customer is always my favorite moment because it opens up a world of possibilities.
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? A whole lot more of production applications.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview? Virginia Palacios.