April 19, 1999
Walt and Karen Webb have created a paradise for inventors in Woodinville. The couple helps take ideas off the drawing board and turn them into reality.
Photo by Deborah Stone.
by Deborah Stone, features writer
An inventor's paradise exists right here in Woodinville. It's a place where the owners and their associates will "Go Ape" over your ideas.
All Points Engineering (A.P.E.), located in the Woodinville Park North industrial park, is the brainchild of owners Walt and Karen Webb. With the help of a group of local entrepreneurs, the husband-wife team started the business two years ago and moved it to Woodinville last year.
"We cater to anyone with an idea and help them get going with an invention," says Walt. "Our goal is to get the idea and concept off the drawing board and into reality."
To help accomplish this, A.P.E. has provided a 2,000-square-foot playroom for inventors or wanna-be inventors that includes a pool table, weight machines, punching bags, a TV suspended in air, and other assorted "toys."
A series of white boards lines the walls for people to sketch concepts on while they take part in the various forms of recreation. The environment is deliberately casual to allow people a place to relax, exchange ideas and meet other inventors and entrepreneurs.
"We wanted to give inventors a space, out of the normal business environment, where their creative juices could flow," explains Webb. "It's a place to shoot ideas around and get free advice."
Walt and his team can provide the know-how and services to take a concept and create a model that is a virtual representation of the product. Once a three-dimensional design is made, it is fed into a stereo lithography machine which creates a prototype design. From there, it goes to a mold machine for cast molding.
In the two years it's been in business, A.P.E. has developed numerous, innovative products including a virtual reality experience seat, a programmable pill dispenser, a new type of digital calipers, and a Deflector (a heat register that sends air out in any pattern desired). The company is currently teaming up with two astronauts, Pete Conrad and Ken Mattingly, on designing the engines for a miniature rocket which will launch low-orbit satellites. Webb is also working with locally-based PlayVisions on developing a line of toys.
The couple's experience is extensive with solid backgrounds in mechanical and electrical engineering, as well as industrial design. They have worked with consumer product companies, aerospace firms, high-tech optics and electronics companies, medical products firms, and telecommunication manufacturers.
The couple first came to Seattle a number of years ago to do some contract work for Boeing. They left the area, but returned later when Walt was offered a position with Virtual IO.
"After being here a few years, I decided that I was ready to go out on my own," comments Webb. "I had lots of varied experience, the necessary contacts, friends who gave me work, and companies who let me use their products to set up my space."
The Webbs hope the word gets out more about A.P.E. as they would like to see their facility used more often.
"It's free and we encourage people to bring in their ideas and investors to come talk to us about investing in products," says Walt. "This includes students interested in mechanical engineering who want to come take a look. We also want to reach out to DECA students to offer hands-on experience to them and are planning to hold some sort of design competition in the future."
For Webb, ideas are plentiful and easy to find. He usually walks through stores and looks at what the consumer needs that is not already on shelves.
"Ideas most often come from need because someone is trying to do something and thinks there could be an easier way of doing it if only he had the right gadget," explains Webb. "People are filled with ideas, but usually don't know where to start when designing an invention. That's where we come in. We make dreams come true."
For further information about All Points Engineering, call 425-488-1397.