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102 C A L I F O R N I A I N V E S T M E N T G U I D E B California 3D companies help improve products we use every day. ehold the bowl. Never gave it much thought, right? You are not alone. The lowly bowl was something everyone took for granted. That is, until a surfer dude munching chips and salsa on the beach couldn't keep his salsa from spilling. The surfer decided to design a better bowl — one that would not spill its ingredients. He did, and it's now on sale at retailers everywhere. The Calibowl is but one example of the kind of products Oakland-based Fathom helps customers create. "We don't take the napkin sketch and develop it," says Elizabeth Griffn, Fathom marketing director. No, Fathom ascertains that a company is serious about its idea before agreeing to work with that company, just like the creators of the Calibowl. "So we prototyped their product, and we used additive manufacturing (essentially the 3D process) to make their product. What was crazy about it was that additive manufacturing was actually able to make their product attractive, whereas traditional manufacturing was not," says Griffn. "The guys who were doing the injection molding had to rethink how they were going to injection mold [the Calibowl]" because the old way wasn't going to work. "Now, it's a patented way. That's one of the things about additive manufacturing. It forces traditional manufacturing to rethink some of its processes." While Fathom serves larger companies and is expanding across the country, Hacker Lab, which operates in both Sacramento and Rocklin, serves small and micro businesses. Like Fathom, Hacker Lab uses 3D technology. Carol Pepper-Kittredge is director of the Center for Applied b y C a r o l C a r t e r A D V A N C E D M A N U F A C T U R I N G Michelle Mihevc and Rich Stump, Fathom Principals Photo cour tesy of Fathom Production Center One Piece at a Time One Piece at a Time

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