Engineering Freelance Stories: Joel Zavala

We are featuring freelance members from Assist 2 Develop and giving them the opportunity to share their stories with our community of makers, dreamers, freelancers, and innovators. Often we hear stories from our peers, and they inspire us, give us a different perspective, or call us to action.

So, if you have a story to share, please reach out. The lessons from your experiences can have a major impact on someone in our community.

Hi Joel, tell our readers a bit about yourself.

“Hi, my name is Joel Zavala, and I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Design Engineer of 40 Form Design Solutions. Our team is devoted to assisting innovators by bringing their ideas to life through engineering CAD modeling, engineering drawings, 3D Printing, and full turnkey project management.”

I asked Joel what intrigued/pushed him to start his freelance practice?

“One of the key factors that led us to starting a business in engineering design and manufacturing is the need to help those that couldn’t get their incredible ideas developed to surpass the vicious cycle of project development, a black hole where precious resources are wasted trying to navigate the industry, losing time and money as their ideas gain more competitors. This common situation stifles too many groundbreaking innovations before they become fully realized.”

What’s a recent project that you enjoyed?

“Perhaps one of the best projects we have worked on was the design and prototyping of a reusable coffee cup lid. It was really fun trying to fit the design of the lid to meet industry and regulatory standards, as well as the high standards of our client’s vision. We also couldn’t do anything too profound to the lid design to keep the price point at a certain level, but at the end of the design process we were able to formulate a design that made the lid splash-proof and met the manufacturing standards.”

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a freelancer and what advice would you give to someone looking to get started?

“One of the challenges of doing contract engineering work is finding the right projects. Not every customer has the best project idea for the type of work we do, or for any design company for that matter. We get a few people now and then that want us to completely engineer new mechanical systems for them at a tiny budget, (sometimes based on fictional or theoretical mechanics!), but that requires endless analytical engineering that doesn’t fit what we do best as a company. As an independent freelancer or contract design firm it might be difficult not taking every job that passes through your desk, but by rejecting certain jobs and focusing on the jobs that best fit your services and skills, you gain a more reputable name in the industry and above all, you work on a project you know will be fun, functional and formative.”

Thanks, Joel for sharing your story! 


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  1. Feb 06, 2018
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