Women in 3D Printing

The breakout session titled ‘Women in 3D Printing’ addressed the challenges and opportunities sustainability offers to additive manufacturing users and innovators. As referenced in the title of the session, there was also a focus on the experience of being a woman in what is typically a male-dominated industry. Women in 3D Printing (Wi3DP) is a global organization dedicated to promoting, supporting, and inspiring women who are using Additive Manufacturing technologies.


The session was moderated by Nora Touré, Founder and Chairman of the Board at Wi3DP. The panel participations were:

  • Thea Wulff Olesen, Group CEO, Ossiform (fka. Particle3D)
  • Stefanie Brickwede, Managing Director, Mobility Goes Additive & Head of AM, Deutsche Bahn
  • Mandaná Moshiri, Senior Technology Manager, The LEGO Group & Wi3DP Ambassador Denmark, Women in 3D Printing
  • Greta d’Angelo, AM Business Development Lead, Gränges Powder Metallurgy


What sustainability means to you?

Nora Touré started asking what sustainability in AM means to each panellist. Emphasis was places on maintaining a holistic point of view of the value chain (not only the printing process itself, saving materials with optimised design, but asking how the material constituting the powder is extracted, how the powder is made, the energy source, how the products perform, comparing also with other technologies). Other answers revolved around the importance of considering the way the powder is manufactured, how a printed component can perform better than a conventional manufactured one (especially in bio-application, as Thea Wulff Olesen mentioned).


How does your company approach sustainability? 

Nora then asked about how each company approaches sustainability. Within the LEGO Group climate impact and collaboration with partners also focusing strongly on sustainability are key factors in any decision on strategy, projects, or investment.

Emphasis was also placed on scouting for materials which are more sustainable and investigating how to re-process scrap steel to produce new powder. Research, LCA investigations, how to get rid of the printed part once it reached the end of its life cycle were also common approaches and challenges mentioned.


Diversity and Inclusion

The discussion focused on the importance of diversity and inclusion, and the activities that each the panellists’ companies are doing to address each issue. Unsurprisingly the panellists were unanimous in their assessment that these issues are extremely important. Despite largely positive experiences the gender gap has always been significant, potentially due to stereotypes about “careers for men or for women”, among others. As a discussion in the rest of the panel, the point was made that when people hire a new person, they tend to look for someone “similar”, men hiring other men, for example, since this can create a more “comfortable” place of work, even if less creative and efficient, since diversity can spark innovation and boost the development of an organisation.

A simple, yet potentially quite impactful initiative to improve the gender balance within the industry was put forward: Bring your daughter to work. As mentioned, often children are inspired to work within the same fields as their parents. Planting a seed of inspiration in the mind of one’s daughter could therefore go a long way to breaking down gender barriers.


The art of networking

A question from the public mainly addressed to Greta d’Angelo, was on how to create a network to find new customers when you are creating a new material/powder. Greta mentioned how difficult a task this is without prior networks. Among all the panellists was the viewpoint that it is important to proactively reach out to people, especially at events such as AM Summit.