Women Behind Innovation: Chloe Kow

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Born and raised in Malaysia, Chloe found an early love in engineering, and began studying materials and manufacturing engineering.With a masters in advanced engineering from Sheffield Hallam University, and over 10 years of experience, Chloe is the DMLM Manager of Star Rapid where she brings a wealth of expertise to every project, insuring the integrity of the design and build process to maximize the benefits of additive manufacturing.

The Edison Awards recently spoke with Kow about her interest in engineering, what she likes about her field, and her greatest achievements thus far. Here’s what she had to say: (edited for brevity and clarity)

When did your interest in science or engineering begin?

Since I was a young girl growing up in Malaysia, I have always been intrigued by how things are made and how they work. This desire to learn the technical aspect of design led me to move to the United Kingdom and study manufacturing and engineering at Sheffield Hallam University.

What was it like to be a woman studying in your field?

Only 20% of the people studying in my course during my time at college were women. Two out of the top five students were women. This figure shows that women are actually not that different to men and are relatively equal in the engineering field. Due to the lack of women in an engineering firm, women are actually taken more care of in engineering industries. In my experience, women are offered more support and opportunities to build their confidence this field.

What do you like about your field and what you do?

Engineering has the power to make a difference. With my nearly 10 years in the metal 3D printing industry, I have learned that most problems I face can be solved by applying engineering, creating advanced technologies and exploring this new world.

Do you think people have any misconceptions about what it’s like to be an engineer or about the field itself?

Most people have misconceptions that engineering is boring and lacks creativity. Contrary to that belief, engineers need to be creative and innovative to address challenges for projects they are working on and have the capability to troubleshoot the problem using a wide range of knowledge.

What are some of your career highlights thus far?

Upon graduation, I pursued opportunities in research in metal 3D printing, as it is a job that always explores the unknown. It provides the opportunity to learn new things every day, which is what drove my passion for research. During my career in research with The Welding Institute (TWI) and Manufacturing Technology Centre, I focused on the aerospace and automotive sectors, working with world-renowned companies. After five years in the research field, I decided to move to China, just outside of Hong Kong, and began working for Star Rapid, managing the company’s metal 3D printing department.

How is your company bringing innovation to the forefront?

Metal 3D printing has been emerging in the market and has become very popular in the manufacturing industry recently.  Star Rapid is pioneering this new technology.

One of the most challenging and unique metal 3D printing projects I have worked on was the medical implant project where the customer wanted to understand the feasibility of using the Renishaw AM250 to print a new design of its medical implant. The new medical implant was designed to replace the conventional medical implants, which is comprised of a few individual pieces and involves a complicated surgical procedure. The new medical implant design consolidated many parts of conventional medical implants into one piece and now involves only a very simple surgery procedure. We also have been requested to help the company reduce the consolidated part weight by 20% by designing the right size of lattice structure struts. The most challenging part for us was to push our machine to the maximum limit to print the requested part features with very fine details and also without sacrificing the mechanical structure of the consolidated moving part. I’m very proud that we have successfully realized the company’s design using our Renishaw AM250 machine.

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