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NW Rapid Manufacturing: A Preferable Printed Product

Learn about a manufacturer in McMinnville working with amazing technology. NW Rapid uses 3D printing to create customized, high-quality, parts for companies in innovative capacities.

NW Rapid's owner, Heather Harris
Owner, Heather Harris, watches a 3D printer as it begins to build a product. Copyright 2016 Yamhill County

Resources Used by NW Rapid:

  • McMinnville Economic Development Partnership
  • Business Oregon

Company Stats:

  • Manufacturing Leader of the Year (2017)
  • Collaborator Award (2017)
  • 10 Employees (2017)
  • 10,000 sq. ft. facility (2016)

The Art of SLS 3D:

NW Rapid Manufacturing (NW Rapid) was created out of practicality and necessity. With her husband and business partner, Chris Harris, NW Rapid started as a means to create parts for the drone engines Chris Harris’ company NWUAV was building. In 2007 the 3D printing market was mainly in Germany, while there were only a few companies printing in the United States. NWUAV was going to different U.S. companies and failing to find the type of consistency they needed in the quality of the product. Taking this matter into their own hands, the Harrises bought partial ownership in a machine in the midwest.

From there, it was only one year until NWUAV purchased its own equipment, and in 2008, NW Rapid was formed as an independent company and part of the NWUAV Family of Companies in McMinnville, Oregon. NW Rapid is owned by Heather Harris who stresses the company's mission to be the “premier provider of rapid manufactured prototypes and production parts, using the latest manufacturing techniques.” Along with this, NW Rapid strives to provide better customer service than similar companies.

A cathedral printed at NW Rapid
A cathedral that was printed in NW Rapids’ machines sits at the entrance of the company. Copyright Yamhill County

NW Rapid uses selective laser sintering (SLS) to make their products. SLS is the process of taking a powder and based on a digital computer-aided design (CAD), melting to just below melting point so the powder will sinter together and create an object. Most products that NW Rapid makes are “specialized and/or derivations of nylon.” The company not only prints objects for rapid manufacturing, they also create prototypes for companies, can help engineer designs, and have a number of finishing techniques that can be used on products.

Due to how recently 3D printing came onto the market as a viable option for things like rapid manufacturing, the limitations of this type of technology are still unknown. More and more 3D printing is being used in innovative and surprising ways. As Heather states: “We are really excited about educating, educating, educating.” According to her, they can go to practical any type of product show and exhibit how they fit into the show and how they can assist companies. As Heather insists, it’s not about replacing machinist instead, “this is a very tailored, beautiful way to compliment two industries together.”

materials at NW Rapid

As the company is producing more and accepting more orders, they are also looking at what an expansion could mean. Heather reminds us “there is no school of 3D printing to speak of, we need people to be present and just learn.” While students are now learning 3D printing in high school, this has not been the case until very recently. In the meantime, Heather hires smart people she can trust. A lot of the business that NW Rapid does is with large clients who ask that products be made confidentially. Not only is there trust in this, Heather also trusts her employees to continually work. She is not a micromanager, and her employees continually show she does not need to be.

As of now, NW Rapid is still a small company, with around 10 employees, but as Heather states: “The company is going to grow in the upcoming years. We know that for what we foresee on the books.” She also recognizes what it means to employee a younger workforce, “Young people’s work ethic looks different. I also think it’s a responsibility of the employer to not take that for granted. We are also here to show employees what it looks like to work for a good employer.” Heather will continue to do this as her company grows.

Having grown up just one town over, Heather has huge heartstrings for McMinnville and remembers what it was like for shop owners to know her name. Today, people on Third Street still know her and her husband’s name and their preferred orders at restaurants, “It’s the personal touch. It’s making you matter. It’s that connection that makes it a special community.”


Learn mroe about NW Rapid at

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