In our latest careers interview blog, Charlotte Hill tells us about how she uses 3D printing in her current role and about the career path that has led her into her current position.

Charlotte currently works in the Construction industry as a New Product Implementation Manager for Gripple Ltd.

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About Your Education

What subject areas/qualifications did you study for?

I started out on a technical apprenticeship working for a manufacturing company. From here I continued on with part-time education to study for a HNC, FDEng in Mechanical Engineering, BEng Mechanical Engineering and finally a MBA in Industrial Management.

Did you have to undertake any further training during your career in order to progress into your current role?

Yes. I have also undertaken training courses in 3D CAD modelling, project management and people management.

About Your Career

Tell us a little bit about your career leading up to your current role?

From leaving school I applied for a technical apprenticeship working for an Oil & Gas company designing Switchgear panels. After my apprenticeship I still had an appetite to learn so I continued with part-time education on day release from my full time job. Shortly after I had the opportunity to spend 12 month working alternately in Houston, Texas and the UK on the design of a new circuit breaker before returning to the UK full time to implement a new production line.

From here I moved into the railway industry, again working in the design office, reverse engineering parts for trains.

After a couple of years I moved on again into the construction industry working for Gripple Ltd as a Product Manager. This role allowed me to travel worldwide understanding new market requirements for HVAC products. This role then led to a new challenge implementing new products into production and creating manufacturing plans.

About Your Current Role

Briefly describe your current role, what do you do?

In my current role I create manufacturing plans for new products which entails assessing the financial investment required in order to manufacture a new product and calculate estimated cycle times for manufacture and packing. From this assessment we can compare the investment with the forecast volumes to work out if we should invest in new machines or hire more people etc.

The other side of my role is working with my colleagues to identify areas of improvement within the business. This could be a product or process improvement to make us more efficient or create cost savings.

What skills do you need for your role?

A solid engineering background, experience in manufacturing, capable of understanding business costings, project management, team working skills, good communication.

What do you enjoy about your role?

I enjoy working as a team to implement new products efficiently and identify areas of the business that could be improved.

Image of 3D printer
Stratasys machine

About 3D Printing

What benefits does the use of 3D Printing bring to your role and/or organisation?

3D printing is a large part of our design process. We use 3D printing on almost every new product that we release. This allows us to do some simple tests on concepts before committing to injection moulding or zinc casting tooling costs that are normally in excess of £60,000 for every new product.

Sometimes the 3D printed part identifies issues with the concept and can therefore be redesigned saving time and money.

We also 3D print new designs to be able to show them to potential customers and test the market for feedback.

How do you feel the future of your industry will benefit from 3D Printing?

The construction industry will benefit massively from 3D printing as the technology and capabilities develop.

As the material capabilities develop the time savings will be realised further. The average injection moulding tools normally take 10-12 weeks to manufacture, alternatively 3D printing with the correct materials can be produced overnight.


What advice would you offer to students that may be interested in pursuing a career in this field?

I found that learning whilst working was invaluable for me. I came out of university with experience on the job as well as qualifications. I was also sponsored to study so I have no personal student debt to pay back. I would advise anyone wanting to do a similar job to consider a similar route.

Before I started my apprenticeship I contacted a few engineering companies and asked if they had any work experience placements available in the school holidays. I was successful in getting a placement at the company I ended up studying for my apprenticeship with. I was paid for this work and it allowed me to get a better feel for what the job might entail before committing myself.

The CREATE Education Project would like to thank Charlotte Hill for sharing the details of her career with us. You can learn more about Gripple at: