While the AM industry’s online calendar has felt somewhat saturated with virtual conferences and webinars this past year, a new event launched last week has shown that there is indeed room for more. Women in 3D Printing, along with many industry partners and sponsors, hosted AM’s very first event with all female speakers. The TIPE 3D Printing event highlighted many topics within the AM sphere and created an engaging and positive atmosphere for discussion and networking.
Over the course of two full days, TIPE welcomed 147 speakers and over 1,600 attendees. The event itself consisted of five thematic tracks: Technology, Industry, People, Economics and Youth. Within these, many, many topics were covered, from the modernization of concrete for 3D printing, to AM’s use in naval research, to silicone 3D printing, to the obstacles of AM adoption. (And that’s only touching on a small fraction of what was on offer.)
What in another context may have been an overwhelming number of topics for a two-day online event, proved to be one of TIPE’s biggest strengths. The broad scope of the all-female conference served to show not only the number of women active in the additive manufacturing industry, but also the many areas within AM that they are shaping. If TIPE’s organizers set out to make an impact with their inaugural event, it worked.
From a technical perspective, the event was hosted on Remo, an online conferencing platform. This was also a success. Attendees could switch between the different tracks, entering into whatever presentation was being hosted at the time. There was also a general chat feature (an active one, at that!) as well as a Q&A section, where attendees could post questions for the speakers. While I was not able to attend every presentation over the two days, the talks I did watch were well attended (between 40 and 200) and were not heavily impacted by ever-dreaded technical problems. Outside of the presentations, TIPE set up a networking area, where attendees could join different tables and chat with their neighbours.
In one of the keynote events, women in AM leadership positions (including EOS CEO Marie Langer, 3DPrinterOS CEO Michelle Bockman, HP CMO of 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing Sonita Lontoh and Protolabs CEO Vicki Holt) were asked to sum up their leadership advice to other women in the industry in one word. This poignant moment saw the trailblazing women cite “courage”, “continuous learning”, “resilience” and “purpose”. If you asked me what word I would use to sum up the TIPE 3D Printing event, I would say “refreshing.”
As Melanie Lang, Co-Founder and CEO of FormAlloy and the Industry Track leader, said in the event’s closing remarks, TIPE brought to the fore new content, or at the very least a fresh perspective on regularly discussed topics. People track leader and long-time AM journalist Sarah Goehrke added that compared to more conventional AM industry events, TIPE speakers and attendees were ready to have hard conversations. “Speaker after speaker was honing in on the courage every woman in AM has for simply being here,” she said, emphasizing the significance of talking about this openly on a stage.
That being said, the event was also refreshing because the women speaking at the event were not sidelined to only discussing diversity. They were also provided with a platform to discuss their professional experience and specific areas of expertise within AM.
Some highlights from the events I was able to attend included The Naval Research Enterprise’s Dr. Jennifer Wolk speaking about how AM has the power to shift paradigms in naval research and applications, how it can make us completely rethink what shipyards and ships can look like, as well as how qualifications are carried out. In another, Haleyanne Freedman, Global Market Manager and Engineering Consultant at M. Holland Company, frankly stated the need for better testing and standards for AM materials. She drew attention to the misinformation surrounding material properties that hinders AM’s adoption and how we can seek to overcome it. In the Youth Track, Dara Dotz, CTO and Co-Founder of Worldchanging Ventures, spoke not only about how 3D printing has the potential to empower developing communities but also how to prepare for personal and professional failures. It was inspiring.
Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, and I’m sure many other people took away very different things from the versatile AM event. One thing I’m sure we can all take away from it though is that there is so much value in championing diversity and in hearing different voices in male dominated sectors like AM. I’d like to thank all the organizers and speakers of the TIPE 3D Printing conference for demonstrating this so powerfully and eloquently.