After losing his job as a technical product manager at IBM Watson in Squirrel Hill during the pandemic, Reggie Raye decided to start his own business and created TOMO in December 2020.
The design studio combines its 10 years of 3D printing experience with a master’s degree in product development from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Harvard Graduate School of Design.
“I told him, ‘You know what, let me see if I can do this,’” says Raye. “Since then I have been developing products and refining printers and my skills and software to make things that are really beautiful and really functional”
3D printing has been around since the 1980s, but a recent IDTechEx Report he predicts it will become a $41 billion industry by next year.
online retailer I TAKE features household and home office items such as bookends, lamps, vases, watering cans, and business card holders. Prices range from $40 to $250.
“My latest collection has been the result of looking for patterns in nature and writing computer programs that can capture those patterns so I can mimic them with my products,” says Raye.
One of their recent products is the Cypress lamp, inspired by the way the branches of Mediterranean cypress trees twist as they rise. Raye’s cypress lamp is currently on display at the New Britain Museum of American Art in New Britain, Connecticut. Raye was also a finalist in the 2015 NASA Centennial Challenge that sought ideas for habitation models of Mars that could be 3D printed with materials from the Red Planet. For the competition, she created a silo at the bottom of a crater that would theoretically protect humans from radiation.
Aside from her business, Raye also teaches a STEAM class to children ages 9-12 at the Homewood-Brushton YMCA.
“We’ve done a lot of CAD and parametric modeling, 3D printing, laser cutting,” says Raye. “I think it’s very helpful for young people to realize that the first version is always going to be a little bit bad. Use your failures and mistakes as learning opportunities. It has been a tremendous privilege to work with students from all over the city to create beautiful and useful things.”
Raye also teaches a 3D printing class at Protohaven, a maker space in Wilkinsburg. And he recently received a grant from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.
TOMO’s next collection will take inspiration from appliances that were once made in Pittsburgh.
“I’m going to integrate things like Westinghouse fans, lamps and heaters,” says Raye. “I want to marry this new technology and this new style, which looks like something futuristic, with something historical and with local roots.”
It’s all part of honoring your adoptive hometown.
“I love being in Pittsburgh,” says Raye. “I moved here to CMU in 2016 and have never looked back. The ecosystem here is very supportive. There is something in the air, there is the feeling of innovation, in the value of craftsmanship, in the value of making things. And those factories are gone and only their shells remain, but I think that spirit lives on.”