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Protoshop’s Dylann Ceriani Appeared on the “Being an Engineer” Podcast!

Being an Engineer Podcast Logo - Dylann Ceriani

We’re excited to share a transcript from the Being an Engineer podcast featuring Dylann Ceriani, our co-founder and principal mechanical engineer at Protoshop. Dylann provides a compelling overview of her engineering journey, highlighting her expertise in prototype molding and the distinctions between prototype and production molding. She also delves into material selection strategies and the regulatory aspects of medical device development.

Dylann’s insights offer valuable knowledge for both new and experienced engineers, emphasizing Protoshop’s innovative approach to prototype tooling. Check out her discussion below to explore the forefront of engineering innovation with Protoshop Inc.

Stay connected with our blog for more industry insights and updates!

Full Transcript

Aaron Moncur  00:03

Earn a two and a half percent commission that’s hundreds or even 1000s of dollars when you take two minutes to make an introduction to pipeline through our ambassador program, all of the free content pipeline brings to the engineering community the being an engineer podcast, the wave our free online platform for engineers, and our CAD club volunteer organization for aspiring young engineers is possible because pipeline exists by making just one introduction you can support pipelines, core business and in so doing support the aforementioned initiatives we provide that enrich the entire engineering community start making an impact today at Team pipeline.us forward slash ambassador, that’s team pipeline.us forward slash ambassador.

Dylann Ceriani  00:51

Try to figure out how to design some of these molds for these parts that come in is solving puzzles. You have to I have to be really creative to try to figure out how to do that and that is so fun for me.

Aaron Moncur  01:19

Hello, and welcome to the being an engineer Podcast. Today we are speaking with Dylann Ceriani, a distinguished figure in the field of mechanical engineering and the co founder and principal mechanical engineer at proto shop. With a rich background in Biomechanical Engineering from the University of California Berkeley, Dylann has carved a niche in the medical device industry showcasing her expertise in product development, particularly in in vitro diagnostics, and orthopedics. Her career spans over 25 years marked by a deep commitment to innovation, quality and efficiency and engineering design. At proto shop, diamond leads the charge in revolutionising prototype tooling, emphasizing the replication of production, mold quality in prototypes. Today, she joins us to share her insights, experiences and the exciting advancements at proto shop. Dylann thank you so much for being with us today.

Dylann Ceriani  02:11

Thanks for having me.

Aaron Moncur  02:12

Okay, so tell me, what made you decide to become an engineer? Well,

Dylann Ceriani  02:17

I’ve always kind of liked to tear things apart and see how they worked. And my mom recognized this in me early. And so you know, I was a good student, and did well in school and like science, loved maths, and was looking for career paths. And my mom said, You know what, I’ve done some research and you should be an electrical engineer. And I said, Okay, so that’s about as much thought as I put into it. I just figured I’d get to make things and see how things work. And that was good enough for me.

Aaron Moncur  02:49

Yeah, So did you start in electrical then?

Dylann Ceriani  02:52

I did. I did. And my junior year, I took an anatomy course. And I realized that I really liked the human body. And if my, if the dean of electrical engineering hadn’t said, most women don’t make it through this program, when I met him as a freshman, I probably would have would have switched to, you know, mechanical engineering and or, you know, pre med.

Aaron Moncur  03:19

Yeah, but challenge accepted. Exactly, exactly. All right. Take that, Dean. All right. Well, you do, I think, quite a lot of mechanical design. Now, is that accurate?

Dylann Ceriani  03:29

I do. I found that I didn’t really like the electrical engineering, but I was I was an athlete and got hurt a lot and was really interested in the mechanism of injury. And then when I went to grad school at University of California at Berkeley, I wanted to kind of focus on the engineering of the body. So I got into biomechanics.

Aaron Moncur  03:53

Yeah. Okay, so take us I mean, you know, briefly a minute or two between graduating with your degree in biomechanics, and now where you are co founder of ProtoShop.

Dylann Ceriani  04:07

Sure. So I, I, my first job was at an orthopedic bracing company. And I was working on knee braces, post op braces, elbow braces, all kinds of things for the mechanical, the mechanical side of orthopedic bracing, so we were developing plastic parts and bending metal and doing field study with athletes was really fun. I did that for a number of years, then took a break and worked at Children’s Hospital in the motion analysis lab doing gait analysis of kids that have cerebral palsy. Then some airplanes hit that the World Trade Center and I lost my job. So I went back to the orthopedic industry for about 10 years. And then after that move to a product development company that did mostly in vitro diagnostic disposables, and part of that Business had a lot of back end manufacturing. So it had mold makers, molding machines, plastics, joining technology to support the in vitro diagnostic disposable market. Because you have to actually test the assays on the cartridges, just to make sure that they work. And then there are a lot of changes. So they’re really quick iterations made a lot of sense that the manufacturing was done in house or the prototyping was done in house. And, you know, I was a director of engineering there. And the guy who ran the shop, the master machinist, there, we saw a lot of business being turned away from companies that needed a little bit more engineering, prototype molding. And so we thought we could make a go of it, you know, supporting companies that didn’t have that kind of prototype molding.

Aaron Moncur  05:49

Terrific. So tell us a little bit about the difference between production molding and prototype molding.


Production molds are usually made of a, you know, a high strength stainless steel tool steel. And it takes a lot of time to cut the cavities, there are usually multiple cavities so that every time you open and close the mold, you get a bunch of parts. Prototype molding is more used for figuring out if your design is going to work. If it’s going to be scalable into those high production tools, it gives you an opportunity to test them in clinical trials. And in the case of in vitro diagnostic disposables, then you get to do your assays on them. But they are primarily single cavity. And they are machined out of a softer aluminum material, so you can make them faster. And then all of the side pulls any mechanisms that you have that you’d normally have in a production tool that makes it highly automated are done manually. So we run vertical molding presses, and we had lay up any of the corpus, or they’re also called pick outs. The part, you know, when the mold opens, the part is rejected. And it already it has these metal core pins in them that we have to then manually strip. So it makes it so that you can get to a part a lot faster, that you could do all your testing. But the parts are more expensive, because you only have a single cavity and you have a lot the cycle times longer because of the manual nature of you know, removing the core pins.

Aaron Moncur  07:21

Right. So there’s a trade off there, you get parts faster, but the parts cost a little bit more. You’re not going to be doing high volume production with this, can you without necessarily disclosing specific prices? But can you give us kind of a rough ballpark of, you know, if you’re going to pay 100 grand for a production mole, this may be multi cavities, it’s fully automated with all the side actions and things like that, versus something that you would do that is a little bit more manual, it’s going to be single cavity. What who, what are the costs, like? And what kind of volumes are are typical for some of your contest customers with the prototype tooling?

Dylann Ceriani  08:02

Sure. Yeah, no, it all depends on the level of detail the number of Site Actions that you have, you know, the slides that you have to create the geometry that’s off of the party line, that’s not in that same direction. But you know, for for a typical part, you know, we start with about a $4,000 costs just to make the inserts and to, to mold the part to design the mold. So that’s about $4,000. And then it’s just how much does it cost to cut the detail of your part after that. So are our molds, I think the the lowest one we’ve had has been about 4500. And then the most expensive one we have, it’s been 25,000 for something that has, you know, crazy, small detail cutting to do. So we can, you know, we’re a little bit specialized in that we’re used to cutting with really small tools and can cut, you know, radiuses down to two and a half 1000s Sometimes, so other prototypes, shots don’t like to do that kind of stuff, because it takes a lot of time. But we can do that, you know, as long as we have a tool that’s long enough to do it, then we can do some of the more intricate stuff. So that’s the ones that are get to be a little bit more expensive.

Aaron Moncur  09:12

Yeah. How have you found this process to benefit product development teams who maybe want or need to test their engineering their designs, but you know, they don’t want to pay 100 grand and get into production before they’re really ready and have proven out the design?

Dylann Ceriani  09:31

Yeah, it’s easy, sometimes it makes sense to just go straight to production. So I had a company call me they wanted to do like an air hockey hockey puck. risk is low, you know, make it round is probably going to work. But for in vitro diagnostics, where you’re putting human samples into a cartridge and then you have to mix with buffers and reagents and you have to test your valve and all kinds of stuff. It doesn’t make sense to go straight to production and making you know a 32 cavity mold when it’s not going to work and if you find you have to change something, you have to change it 32 times in a hardened tool steel, which involves, you know, a lot of times welding and then re cutting. So it just kind of depends on the application. I in vitro diagnostics makes a lot of sense, a lot of kind of handheld medical devices that have triggers and buttons that actuate you want to make sure that you’re picking the right materials and that they’re, the feel is right, things like that. So anything that has kind of a user interaction or some sort of thing that can’t be tested with 3d prototypes, it makes sense. What are

Aaron Moncur  10:37

some of the most common materials that you use? And are they truly the exact same materials as you would find in the production parts?

Dylann Ceriani  10:44

Yeah, typically, you know, housings are made of ABS. We use a lot of polycarbonate, it’s if you have some optical clarity requirements, you might use a COC or a co P those are cyclic olefin copolymer, or cyclic olefin. Polymer. So we use it we do a lot of those. We do nylons. We do delran, we do you know, pretty much anything that the customer wants to use, they can even send us and have us try. We have a customer that sending us altom and polysulfone, which is a high temperature material. That’s something else that our shop does that other people don’t do, they take specialized presses that can go to the higher temperatures required to process that material. But yeah, so we some we say, you know, I’ve spent a lot of times in medical time and medical devices. So I know the poly carbs. And I know the polypropylene, that’s another one that are tip in the polystyrene ‘s that are used in medical devices, and the ones that I use when I was developing those products, you know, for 10 years. So I know that they work, so I can recommend those. But if they have a specific material they want to use, they can send it to me, and we’ll use it. Terrific.

Aaron Moncur  11:56

What are some of the largest cost drivers for the prototype molds that you’re producing? Is it does it just come down to level of detail? Or are there other considerations that for those who are listening to this right now, maybe they think, wow, we could really use something like this. But I want to make sure and minimize our costs. What are some pro tips that engineers can use to minimize the cost of even prototype tooling.


Think about how the part is going to be getting out of the bowl. So the parting lines, how you’re going to pull it apart. If you can eliminate side actions by having snaps created by through holes from the other side, that that eliminates us having to manually pick out core pins from the mold. Also radiuses. If you give a if you specify a 5000s radius, that means I have to use a 10 1000s cutter, most of the time, if it’s a small feature, then I have to use small cutters. I recently helped a customer who the mold was $15,000. And just by a few tweaks, we got it down to 10. Wow. So it really is just about the time it takes to cut it. Yeah, for the cost of the mall.

Aaron Moncur  13:08

And is there a typical timeline and time between you receiving the order and first parts coming out of the press? I’m sure of course, it depends to a large degree on on what the geometry is how intricate it is, but a lot of the time for for production tooling, you’re talking about, you know, maybe eight or 10 weeks before you even get your first parts. What what are some typical timelines for prototype tooling? Last

Dylann Ceriani  13:37

week, we made a mold for a customer in three days. Wow. And again, you’re right, you’re absolutely right, it depends on the level of detail. So if I have a lot of really small features, that’s gonna take you know, 120 hours of machine time to cut. And then you know, in between that 120 hours, there’s a machinist programming those, it can it can get up to two weeks, you know, for something really, in a really detailed and with that, I have to use small cutters for Yeah. And then it depends on what’s at our shop. But you know, we just keep buying machines and you know, when we run out of capacity, we buy more machines and you know, we add people so, you know, we’re trying to get it so that it’s under two weeks for everybody that sometimes it’ll get into three if we have a lot of stuff in the shop.

Aaron Moncur  14:26

The mold that you didn’t three days last week that was for a hockey puck High

Dylann Ceriani  14:31

was something close to that. It was like a little rectangle with a some cutouts and it had some bumps on it. So yeah, it was it was pretty quick.

Aaron Moncur  14:40

Nice, nice. Okay, well take it a step away from specifically Protoshop and just a little bit more general conversation here. What are some of the most significant advancements you’ve seen in medical device product development over the years, whether it’s a new technology or new material reels are new new processes, new new techniques for doing something, anything in particular come to mind?

Dylann Ceriani  15:06

That’s a really good question. You know, I did a lot of work in micro fluidics at my previous company. And there were some really cool technologies there, that we tried to integrate into our, our cartridges, there were, there was one company that did this mixing, you know, because when you’re doing it on a cartridge and you add to things, you can’t just, you know, sometimes you agitate it, or sometimes you put it through channels, and you have it mix up stuff. And but, but a lot of times, the fluids just don’t kind of mixed together, there was one company that came up with a way to electrify little filiform little fingers that would kind of move in and mix things. So that was really cool. But the reality was, is that they’re very costly, and for a disposable. Brute force is cheaper than the really cool technology. So I did learn that, you know, even if, even if you have a really cool technology, making it marketable and making it commercializable is, is a little tougher.

Aaron Moncur  16:11

Yeah. All right. How about 3d printing? Has that altered the way that prototype tooling is made at all? I know that there are some 3d printing resins that at least they’re advertised as being usable for limited injection molding tooling, is that anything that Protoshop ever uses?

Dylann Ceriani  16:33

You know, we’re always looking at that, just, we don’t want to be the Kodak and go out of business, because we’re not paying attention to the trends of the future. So I’m always looking at that tried to decide if yes, it’s gotten better, and gotten good enough. The truth is, for micro fluidics, a lot of things have to be within a few 1000s tolerance, and a lot of the stuff that we develop is really tight tolerance requirements. So no, we haven’t gotten that. And then the materials that you mold with are higher, usually in temperature requirements than the 3d printed, you know, inserts or bass. So you know, there is we have, I have used DMLS parts, that’s a metal sintering printed parts, for some of the core pins that are a little bit more difficult to machine to save my customers money. But that finish that comes off of those is very rough. So I take them from the 3d printer, and I will we’ll have our guys sand them themselves. But once you start sanding, you’ve lost, you know, 10s and 1000s. So things like that and getting them to shut off properly in the mold so that the plastic doesn’t flash in any gaps is a little bit difficult. But recently, last week, I ordered a kind of an Acme threaded edge, a core pin that we’re going to use because the tolerance of that is not as tight as you know, a machine part needs to be. And that part was 100 bucks instead of us machining, it would have been a couple 1000. So where I can I try to save my customers money. There also is a technology that we keep exploring, which is a combination 3d printing and CNC machining, which allows you to kind of, you know, machine undercuts sort of, so that lays down the layer that centers the layer of metal down. And that allows you to machine that layer, and then it lays down the next layer that allows you to machine but the registration. Yeah, it’s pretty cool. There are $500,000 machines. So it’ll be a while before I could afford one of those. And then, you know, the problem is, is that it’s still the tolerance isn’t quite what you need sometimes.

Aaron Moncur  18:52

Yeah, yeah, tolerances are very demanding when it comes to injection molded parts.

Dylann Ceriani  18:57

Yeah, I had a customer that wanted tents. And that’s just not, you know, we had a high high shrink material. So if you if you don’t know that when you, when you injection mold apart you, you have to account for the shrink of the plastic, because after you mold it, the plastics, the molecules are going to align and they’re going to shrink. And it shrinks differently depending on what your geometry is. So it’s a little bit unpredictable. So to get to something that’s, you know, less than half our tolerance or less, the less than half of our tolerance is pretty tough.

Aaron Moncur  19:26

I have a question for you about draft, for those of you probably most people are familiar with what draft is if not draft is just a very small angle that is applied to plastic parts, that allows them to be ejected from the mold much more easily than if they were just you know, perfectly straight or vertical walls. Typically, what I’ve seen is is one to three degrees, but I’ve heard I’ve heard disagreement between different molders you know, as far as what, how much draft they want, of course, probably more is better for the molder, because the more draft there is the easier it is to get out of the part I have typically used one degree is kind of my default draft angle. But I know other engineers who are adamant that it should be three degrees. Do you have what’s what’s your standard draft angle?

Dylann Ceriani  20:16

Well, we’re prototype molars, so we do other tricks. And we don’t care as much about throughput. So sometimes I don’t even have any draft. Oh, and depending on I’m in the medical device industry, if we do a syringe, they don’t want any draft on the barrel, because they’re going to have an elastomer come down, they want to be able to tightly control that. But in general, it I’d say, again, it depends, it depends on the material that you’re going to be molding in. And it depends on the brittleness of that material. And it depends on which side of the mold is going to release first. So we’ll call that the cavity side is, you know, you want the mold to open up and you want to predictably know which side the part is going to stick on. So on the part that that where the mold pulls away the cavity side, you want more draft than on the other side, because you want it to stay in that side, so that you don’t trash your mold. Because if part of the part of the part sticks in the wrong side, it can bend things and break things and all kinds of stuff. So some of your more rigid materials, I’d say three degrees is good. For polypropylene, which are really forgiving, you know, one degree I’ve gotten, you know, half a degree is okay. And I, I kind of prefer sometimes to not draft the side that I wanted to stick on. Okay,

Aaron Moncur  21:39

great, good information. Well, let me take a very short break and share that our company pipeline design and engineering develops new and innovative manufacturing processes for complex products that implements them into manual fixtures or fully automated machines to dramatically reduce production costs and improve production yields for OEMs. Today, we have the absolute pleasure of speaking with Dylann Ceriani. So Dylann, what what advice would you give younger engineers who are aspiring to move into the world of medical device design?

Dylann Ceriani  21:42

Well, I’d say it’s interesting because I gave a talk at my undergraduate college, on medical devices, and it’s not something that they even taught. So it wasn’t even industry that they were really even aware of in the mechanical engineering department. It’s such a vast, vast what sort of like we’re a business, you know, medical devices, there’s big DME, durable medical equipment, design, there’s in vitro diagnostics, there’s orthopedic bracing, which was super fun for me, all kinds of medical devices that are out there. It’s a very, very lucrative, not lucrative business, but stable business. So when other people are having layoffs, the medical devices aren’t quite so much. Because people are always going to be getting sick, and they’re always going to be needing medicines, or also, they’re always going to be needing these these devices to stay healthy. So it’s, I guess my advice is, you know, it’s a great business. And it’s not something that you, if you if you have good solid engineering principles, you can apply them to this business. It’s not like you have to learn something specific for it. But the more you understand about biology and the human body, and kind of the neural pathways and the chemistry of the body, it helps you to kind of understand the things that you’re developing.

Aaron Moncur  23:42

How about any specific technologies? Are there areas of study that you would encourage, especially younger engineers, maybe students right now going to university, any particular areas of research or technologies that you think are emerging trends that are going to be really big and important, 235 years from now that they should start learning now?

Dylann Ceriani  24:06

I see a lot of movement in the kind of genetic sequencing going on. I think that medicine is going to become very personal, they’re going to develop develop vaccines, specifically for people and for people’s certain DNA. So I think that the more that you understand sort of that side of it, the better off you’ll be. And I think I see it’s, it’s fascinating. I had one of my daughter’s friends passed from cancer and they they took specifically her cancer, and we’re developing a vaccine that targeted specifically the genes that she that were mutated or you know, that they were trying to fix them, they could go in and just target those things. I think there’s a lot of work being done on what’s called a medical probes, so ways to inject a probe that would go and find certain cancer cells so that they can then target things that are there. So I just think it’s medicines getting a lot more specific. And the more that you can, you know, take some biology, take some anatomy, take some kinesiology classes, if you’re really interested in it, take some of the neuroscience classes, so you understand kind of how the body works. And you’ll be much better off when you’re talking to the scientists that are coming up with assays or, or immuno bio biological mechanisms to be able to understand what’s going on. Let’s

Aaron Moncur  25:34

go back to material selections just for a minute here. And can you provide any rules of thumb for engineers who are wanting to I guess initially prototype injection molded apart? But you know, looking off to production is? Well, you mentioned a few common materials, ABS, PVC, nylon, polyethylene, things like that. Are there some general rules of thumb that you can share about, you should consider this type of material if your product is ABC, but you should could consider that type of material? If your project product is XYZ, anything like that, that that you can share? I know it the answer is always It depends. But yeah, some general rules of thumb that we can start with foundationally. Sure,

Dylann Ceriani  26:20

I recently tried to write a blog for my website, understanding material data sheets, and it’s supposed to have be a guide that kind of helps you walk through, you know, what does my product need to do? What kind of loads is it going to be seeing? What kind of chemicals is it going to be seeing, and that helps you kind of downselect into the material that you need. In general, if you’re looking for a material, it’s something that’s going to be holding, solid, so you don’t want anything, anything from the plastic to leach into your fluids, you’re going to be looking at a polypropylene type thing, if you’re worried about if you have like a buffer that you’re going to store on a shelf for a couple of years, you know, you need to worry about the moisture vapor transmission, you know, is it going to be evaporating and then it will change the concentration of the assay that I’ve got to read because I you know, my volumes are different. So polypropylene is are really good for that. Polycarbonate, it’s our, our workhorse. They’re a little more expensive than a polystyrene, but they’re more durable. So if you are, you know, worried that if you drop it, it’s going to splatter, you know, all kinds of crazy stuff over if the part breaks, then you’d probably move to a polycarbonate over a polystyrene because polystyrene breaks really easily. And then you have to consider light transmission. So if you need it to be clear, because you’re going to be looking at molecules in, you know, PCR chambers, then you’d use, like I said, the CoCs. Great.

Aaron Moncur  27:55

All right, that’s a that’s a perfect, basic starting point there. How about the regulatory environment, you’re dealing with medical devices, health care spaces, and of course, in that industry, regulatory regulatory and FDA concerns are always a thing that have to be considered is it doesn’t have much of an effect on what you are doing since your work is largely in the prototype phase. And maybe those regulations are not so stringent at that point.

Dylann Ceriani  28:27

It does it it doesn’t, it depends on what’s my customers need. So some customers that are they’re required to use ISO 1345 facilities or ISO 9001 facilities, they may not be able to use us. However, I did come from a an ISO 1345 for medical device development company. And we have we are using the same processes for you know, material tracing, lot, traceability you know, rev control changes, things like that, we’re using all those processes where the process of writing them down now so that we can get that ISO 9001 certification. But as far as a prototype molder, most people don’t need it. It’s early on in the development, they’re just trying to figure out, you know, which path they’re gonna go or if the snaps work or if their assay works or something like that. And then once they, they, once they get that all worked out, they’re gonna go to a production builder that has all of those that has all those certifications in place. As far as engineering goes, you know, when you are doing a medical device, and you are required to be under design control. It’s a lot of what you do. It’s a lot of what you do, you have to do design and development plans, you have to have a design input, you have to have a design output that matches so you show okay, this is what I said it was going to do and here Here’s the proof that this is what I said it was going to do. And then there’s a lot of testing and proof. And that has to go along with that before you can even transfer it to manufacturing. And then you have to do all kinds of process validations and field trials and show that your, your product does exactly what you said it was going to do. And that whole packet, you know, get submitted to, you know, the FDA or whatever, for certification, just so that you can have that ISO certification on your, on your medical device. So, you know, if you are developing a medical device, depending on what class it is a class one is kind of a less regulatory heavy one, versus a class two, which means that, you know, it does contract the skin and it goes, you know, maybe through the skin transdermal and class three is an implantable, for example, you know, the level of documentation just as crazy once you get up to that, so I didn’t like any of that. Which is why, you know, I kind of went to a product development company where we got to just come and come up with the ideas, make some prototypes, and then say, Okay, now you guys get to go do the fun stuff.

Aaron Moncur  31:03

Yeah, off to the next one. I had similar experiences, I worked for a different company before I started pipeline. And we did a lot of product development for medical devices. And I was there when they started spooling up their ISO 1345 certification. And so I got to be a part of going through all this training. And now there’s all this paperwork that has to be generated. And it was, understandably it’s, it’s a necessary evil, right. But just like you, I did not particularly enjoy that aspect of it. So So I got fired.

Dylann Ceriani  31:37

Yeah. Oh, no, I was in, in my bracing capacity, I was always the maverick that was trying to get around the system and do stuff, because it just seems so dumb to me to try to, like I want to change the way this part looks. It’s not going to affect the function, I can just tell you no. And so I was always trying to figure out ways to get around it. And then at my newest company, I was the only one that had worked in, worked in a company where products had actually gone to market. Everybody else was kind of r&d. So they gave me the quality system to control to train everybody. So I I felt like that was karma for me.

Aaron Moncur  32:15

Yeah. Oh, funny. Well, tell me a little bit about what what motivates you, you know what, what keeps gets you up in the morning and motivates you to go into work and do what you do?

Dylann Ceriani  32:29

Well, I, you know, it’s when when we started Protoshop, it’s sort of it sort of just kind of dropped in my lap, I’ve always kind of want to start, have my own business. I’ve never liked people telling me what to do. And, but I was too scared, I was risk averse. And I, I didn’t know if I could do it on my own. But when the machinist came to me and said, hey, you know, I think we have this opportunity. And he had some funding, and I knew that he knew everything that I didn’t know, and that I knew the stuff that he didn’t know. So I felt like that would, it was almost like, a perfect world. You know, I had, and we had a an advisor that had done this before, as well. So all I had to do is have the courage to quit my job. And it was a very good job, I love my job I loved working at the place that I was working at. But I had just, you know, my mom had just passed and so you know, why was able to take the money from the sale of her home to pay off my house. So and most of my kids are out of the house. And so I was like, if I’m ever gonna do it, like, this is what I’m gonna do it right, if I fail, then I’m not going to be out on the street. Or at least my kids aren’t going to be out on the street. And, you know, I could get a job working at McDonald’s or something to get support, you know. So really, now, I don’t ever have a problem getting out of bed, because I’m working for myself. And everything that I do directly benefits be or my employees. And I feel like I’m creating something I’m providing worth. And honestly, I was a little bit nervous that, you know, not doing the engineering, I’d be a little bored. Because I’ve never really I keep getting pushed into management, maybe because I’m not a very good engineer. But, you know, I love doing the hands on stuff. And I was afraid that I would miss that. But, you know, kind of try to figure out how to design some of these molds for these parts that come in, is solving puzzles. You have to I have to be really creative to try to figure out how to do that. And that is so fun for me. I didn’t know how fun that was gonna be for me. I’ll sit on my couch all day Saturday and do it just because it’s just really fun. So I get the creative part of it. I get the you know, I’m creating jobs which feels really good. And that I know that my efforts directly benefits other people as well as maybe someday be you know, I’m making. So if I put in the number of hours that I’m working and divide up my salary, I’m probably getting paid less than, you know what I was when I first got out of college, but it’s just fun having something that’s my own. It’s

Aaron Moncur  35:14

interesting how that works, isn’t it? I remember when I was working for this other engineering company, I put in my 40 hours, and I was out, you know, I was I was done, I did not want to spend any more time than I had to. Towards the end. In the beginning, it was it was, I was a lot more engaged. But towards the end, the company was a little slow, which was part of the problem. And so the work that was available to be done was largely paperwork. And it just it wasn’t, it wasn’t fun for me, which, you know, all the responsibility is on me, right? I made the choice to become kind of disengaged, and then I got, then I got axed. Anyway, my point in saying this was that when I started pipeline, after getting laid off at this, this other place, even though I did not enjoy what I was doing towards the end, at this other place, and I was putting in the the bare minimum number of hours, 40 hours a week, then I started a pipeline, and I was probably doing 60, sometimes 70 hour weeks in the beginning. And I loved it. It was yeah, it was so fun, you know. So just like you said, even though I was making peanuts, if you look at it on an hourly basis, it was, I guess, just because I had so much more ownership over the process. It was it was so much more enjoyable and fulfilling for me.

Dylann Ceriani  36:31

I agree. And I see the frustration that bosses have now for employees that aren’t as engaged and aren’t putting in honest day’s work. It’s just so frustrating for me. It’s like, Don’t you realize I paying you Why are you looking? Why are you on your computer? I don’t want to get I don’t get it?

Aaron Moncur  36:48

Yes, yes. Things have come full circle.

Dylann Ceriani  36:51

Yes, they have. It’s almost like we get the quality system. back.

Aaron Moncur  36:56

There we go karma again. Yep. All right. Well, let’s see. Just a couple more questions. And I think we’ll wrap things up here. But looking back over your career, what are a couple of key lessons that you’ve learned that you think others could apply to being successful as an engineer, especially if you can frame those within the context of a story or two that come to mind? Sure.

Dylann Ceriani  37:20

The thing that popped into my head, and I may, I may have missed the second part of your question, because I immediately started thinking about something. And, you know, much like my story of how I decided on engineering, I just have sort of floated through life and just kind of taking things as they came. I didn’t, I didn’t really make a conscious effort of what am I really interested in. And maybe I’ll just try something and see how it goes. But I got lucky. And that that thing that I tried I really liked, I would like to think that I would be willing to try and that if I didn’t like it have the courage to switch to something else. And I think if you go in with that mindset of you don’t have to have everything figured out, you could just try it and go, Oh, that’s not for me, let’s let’s do something else. But always be looking at what what each job has to offer, and what it can teach you. So I, I got my undergraduate degree. And then I played a couple years of volleyball. And then I came back and got my graduate degree and then are well, before I before I started my graduate degree, I got this job as a software tester, while I was waiting to while I was applying for grad schools, and, and it’s amazing to me how much that software testing that $8 An hour Software Testing job has applied to my legs, you know, things that I’ve learned about like, going through process how the software works, because I had never done like, you know, SolidWorks the CAD before. So that training also helped me do that. And then at one point, I was in charge of, you know, putting graphics on the braces. So that exposure to that software, we happen to be a you know, a design software. So that helped me with that. And it just really taught me that, like, every single job that you have has something to teach you, no matter how menial, it seems, whether it’s communication with other people getting along with people skills, they’re always going to teach you something. So I would just advise people to, you know, try things, don’t be concerned about whether or not it’s a perfect fit, and then learn everything that you can from that. And then I would also advise people to advocate for yourself. So I had a I had a coworker that started at the same time as I did. And he was always at the boss’s office, you know, he was going you know, what can I be doing? What can I how can I further my career. He bought a bike so that he could ride it at lunchtime with him and I just thought that was so gross that I didn’t do that. Well guess what? He got promoted and he got more stuff. And he learned a lot faster than I did, because he was actively, you know, pursuing it telling the boss how interested he was in getting better and learning more. And while I still would not advocate going on bike rides at lunch, just to kind of, you know, kiss, but I would have liked to, I wish I could have gotten in the office a little bit more and said, you know, help me, you know, I, you have a lot to teach me. What are some options for B? How can I learn more? What can I do faster? That guy got sent to SolidWorks classes I had to learn on my own, and I just kept thinking, you know, my work will speak for itself, you know, and that’s not necessarily true. So you’ve got to really kind of showcase what you do in a non sleazy way. You know, you’ve got to just be asking, otherwise, you might get missed.

Aaron Moncur  40:46

That is tremendous, real world advice. I think a lot of people hopefully will, will take to heart and greatly benefit from thank you for sharing that. Well, last question here, specifically, within your within the context of your role as an engineer, what is one thing that frustrates you? And one thing that brings you joy?

Dylann Ceriani  41:08

I feel like I’m on an interview right now.

Aaron Moncur  41:11

You are on an interview. Right? Exactly. That’s what’s happening. Have you been here the last 3440 minutes?

Dylann Ceriani  41:17

Yeah, absolutely. Well, you know, if this whole Proto Shop thing doesn’t work out, I’m gonna come work at pipeline. So if they pass this interview,

Aaron Moncur  41:27

your last answer was right there. That was like worth the price of admission right there. terrific advice. I really enjoyed that. But yes, back to the current question, what frustrates you, and what brings you joy within the context of engineering?

Dylann Ceriani  41:42

I guess what’s really frustrating for me, as far as working with other engineers, usually engineers are very motivated people. It’s easy to manage engineers, because they, they get their satisfaction from solving problems. So you don’t have to motivate them as much. But it’s super frustrating to work with people that don’t care about the project and who dropped the ball. And so you have to pick up their Slack. So same as being a mom, right? Is this super frustrating that they say they’ll do something and then they don’t? I find that really frustrating. I find bosses that are more interested in them looking good than solving the actual problem. super frustrating. And I guess that’s just the hands on part of me that I just want. I want things to make sense. And I want people to make logical decisions. And that’s, that’s not always the case. So I’m not sure how helpful that is, because you’re always going to encounter that, but super frustrating for me. And then the other part of the questions is what brings me joy. Right? Right. The joy is in solving that problem is in finding ways to either work with people finding ways to get the design input to accomplish the design input. That’s, that’s the fun part for me. Yesterday, again, I was working on this mold design, and I just couldn’t figure out how to put something together. And I finally figured it out this morning. And I’m feeling I’m feeling really good. I slept on it and finally figured it out. Sometimes it’s battling the software, sometimes it’s you know, battling the design. That brings me joy. And also, I really like working with young engineers that maybe don’t understand the plastics and how molds have to be designed and how parts need to be taken out of molds, and then coaching them on you know, Hey, did you think about doing this and if you did this, it could save you a lot of money and maybe we could make this part of the mold modular so that you can try a bunch of different things and having the see the lights come on and, and having them get excited about their designs and learning something. So that’s really fun for me, too. I spent some time as a volleyball coach, I coached four through sixth graders, you know, for 10 years and just seeing that seeing the lights come on, and and making people love what they do is brings me joy as well. Yeah,

Aaron Moncur  44:19

very fulfilling. All right, well, great. That was all wonderful. Thank you so much, darlin, for being on the show today. How can people get in touch with you?


If you have something that you want molded? It’s pro Protoshop inc.com and or I’m happy to give out my email address if you want to just contact me directly. It’s DCeriani. C E R I A N I at protoshop inc.com.

Aaron Moncur  44:45

Awesome. Great. Well, what a delight that was to spend some time with you today Dylann and cover prototype molding and different materials and share some of your pro tips and tricks. So thank you so much for being on the show today.

Dylann Ceriani  45:02

Thanks for having me. And I will for sure send business your way. I think what you’re doing there is amazing.

Aaron Moncur  45:06

I appreciate it. Thank you so much. I guess I told you all about the the hockey pucks that we’re making them, right?

Dylann Ceriani  45:11

Yeah. Automated.

Aaron Moncur  45:15

All right. Thank you, Dylann.

Dylann Ceriani  45:16

Thanks, Aaron.

Aaron Moncur  45:19

I’m Aaron Moncur, founder of pipeline design and engineering. If you liked what you heard today, please share the episode. To learn how your team can leverage our team’s expertise developing turnkey equipment, custom fixtures and automated machines and with product design, visit us at Team pipeline.us. Thanks for listening

Based on 7 reviews
Dana Taylor
Dana Taylor
If you're in need of a molding prototype shop, Dylann and Jimmy at Protoshop are sure to not only meet but exceed your expectations. Their team demonstrates remarkable responsiveness and proactiveness, contributing to an exceptionally efficient overall process. The speed at which they deliver top-notch work is truly impressive. Protoshop's commitment to customer satisfaction is apparent in their flexibility and willingness to closely collaborate with clients to address specific needs. An exemplary instance of this was their accommodation of our request to have our customer onsite for part evaluation and mold changes while we were present. What sets Protoshop apart is not solely their technical proficiency but also their dedication to providing valuable insights and design advice. Their expertise extends beyond standard projects, showcasing proficiency in handling complex components for diverse applications, be it over-molded sealing parts or flexible components. In conclusion, if you're on the lookout for a reliable and efficient partner for your manufacturing and molding requirements, I wholeheartedly recommend Protoshop. Their combination of expertise, responsiveness, and commitment to customer satisfaction makes them an exceptional choice for a variety of projects.
Brittany Mason
Brittany Mason
I have worked with Photoshop on several mold designs over the past year. From the moment I reached out to them with an inquiry, they were prompt in their communication and eager to assist me. I have greatly appreciated and benefited from their extensive expertise and prompt feedback. They consistently offering valuable suggestions and insights that ultimately saved us money in the overall design. As for the quality of work they provided, Dylann and her team have always come through. If any issues do arise, they have been quick to offer solutions and kept us up to date throughout the whole process. If you're looking for a reliable partner for your plastics molding needs, I would check them out.
Stacie Depner
Stacie Depner
Having worked with Dylann and Jimmy prior to Protoshop, I knew the immense level of expertise they have for this business and it proved to carry through. They are honest straight shooters that will help guide you and find the best solution for your molds. We needed a mild that could be versatile and allow us to easily change out one side of the design. Dylann helped us come up with an approach that will allow us to continuously iteration the design without having to make a whole new mold every time.
Chad Follmar
Chad Follmar
Dylann and team are wonderful to work with. On multiple programs, they have delivered quality product in a matter of days. The design for moldability support is unparalled to ensure your part is ready to order.
Garrett Garner
Garrett Garner
We work regularly with Protoshop on a variety of complex components for various projects. They are an excellent company to work with providing a vast history of experience to help their clients optimize designs. We have worked with them on microfluidic chips with small feature sizes, over molded sealing parts and flexible parts. They have experience working with many materials including Topas (COC), polycarbonate, TPE, PE, and PP. I would highly recommend reaching out on your next project. The team is very responsive to design changes as well as delivering to tight timelines. They also offer design advice and best practices which have helped expedite design iterations.
Steven Soeder
Steven Soeder
Great experience with Protoshop. Dylann is extremely responsive and great to work with. Very fast turn-around. Worked with us on our order to get what we needed. I was able to drop ship 3d printed parts from another vendor to Protoshop to have them match-fit and incorporated into our tooling. I will be back again.
Wendell Woidyla
Wendell Woidyla
Dylann at Protoshop is excellent to work with: highly responsive and proactive. This is possibly the fastest, high-quality work I have ever witnessed. 1 week...from payment (start) to delivery (after CTQ measurements at Protoshop), we had 100 test samples of a component we intend to use in high volume manufacturing. Thank you for the tremendous work! I would highly recommend Protoshop, and will plan to use Protoshop services in the future.