A Day’s Work: Anatomical model designer

simulaids-HZTGiovanni Zorloza has spent the last 17 years using his artistic skills to create anatomical models for Simulaids. Zorloza works in research and design, and the molds he designs and sculpts become manikins that medical professionals use for life-saving training.

How did you get into this line of work?

I went to school to learn mold-making. I studied through Joe Blasco Academy. I perfected my mold-making, casting, prosthetics there. I heard Simulaids was designing and creating stuff for health training, so I went there.

What is a common misconception about the job?

That it’s only about sculpting and doing artwork. In reality there’s a lot of designing that goes into each manikin to create a workable product. Materials, functionality.


How much does the function play into what you create?

Artistic is only 10 percent. The rest, you have to be extremely creative. It has to come close to human organic parts. It’s not about using anything; you have to always think outside the box, which is completely different than what you learn in school. You have to break a lot of rules because it has to fit the needs. There’s a lot of trial and error. Everything we do has to be consulted with doctors and nurses, and they have to give us input.

It’s frustrating because you’ll have a job 90 percent done, and all of a sudden you only have five percent of it.

How are the hours?

I love the hours. You still have time to enjoy your family. I’d say 80 percent of the time the hours go fast because it’s an enjoyable job; 20 percent is the frustration you get at any other job.

What makes for a good day?

A new product, because you’re thinking ‘how am I going to do this?’ It’s refreshing.

How often does that happen?

About five times a year.

What is the average time it takes to go from start to completion?

It all depends. Some projects it takes three years. Some take a month.

What makes a bad day?

Personal errors. Not mixing the right amount of material. Your own personal frustration. We have to do a lot of paperwork. For every product we do, half of it ends up being paperwork. You have to make sure every step of the way is written down because when they assemble they have to have the right amount of material, the right vendors. Every person that has a project is in charge of that. We need to make our bill of materials. So before the product goes out there, it’s a very lengthy procedure. That way we know everything is proper.

How has the job changed since you started?

The job has become more electronic and computerized. Technologically, it has advanced a lot. I have to create things in a computer program called ClayWorks. We design in the computer, and then that gets sent out for 3D printing. They gave us classes for computer drawing and blueprinting.

Does that make it easier?

I prefer sculpting. You’re limited in the computer. Some things you can do quick, like mirroring pieces. Sculpting is slower. Once you want to do the detail, the computer doesn’t do it smooth. The tool doesn’t always work the same as when you do it physically.

Do you see yourself at the same job ten years from now?

I do. If it wasn’t for economics I’d have my own business, but I do.

How’s the pay?

Pretty fair, compared to most places.