What do you know about Women in Manufacturing and Innovation? We explored this concept at our October 13th Jam at ICNC, a small business incubator and manufacturer network on Chicago's near west side. This stimulating Design Jam featured women- owned manufacturer, Matot, a Chicago-based manufacturer that has produced dumbwaiters for generations. We also invited Irene Sherr of Chicago Metro Metal Consortium (CMMC) and Nuha Nazy of Z-Axis Factory to talk about the state of women in manufacturing. Nuha also highlighted how Z-Axis Factory, a women-owned manufacturing co-working space in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago is helping product innovators produce in small batch productions.
Our manufacturer, Matot, is a local commercial dumbwaiter manufacturer who has been in Chicago since 1888. Originally starting making ice boxes, they shifted to dumbwaiters as consumers’ needs changed. Now they are again looking to new products to utilize downtime on their machines. Our virtual tour video explains more about their capabilities and was shared with the designers, students, makers and manufacturers who participated in this Jam.
Our Jam began with 3 buckets for attendees to design around -- hotel furniture, hospital fixtures and autonomous vehicles (aka the 21st-century dumbwaiter). Over a delicious Pork and Mindy’s meal, teams frantically generated ideas over the next 1.5 hours. The final presentation was very exciting revealing ideas such as emotionally supportive lighting in hospitals; internal package delivery within a building; standardized drone delivery boxes; and what I would describe as an entertaining tie-rack-style machine for a hotel bar.
What comes next? University of Illinois at Chicago students are developing these ideas further to address the market, need and manufacturability. Stay tuned!