Mar 8, 2016 | By Tess

Every year on March 8th, people from all over the world come together to celebrate International Women’s Day. The day is an occasion to honor and recognize women from all walks of life who have made a positive impact on the world, no matter how big or small, and to keep showing that women, who are still struggling for equal rights around the world, are capable, innovative, and inspiring human beings.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we have compiled a list of some women who have truly inspired us within the 3D printing industry, from scientists, to company founders, to makers and engineers, to designers. Despite the 3D printing industry being a male-dominated field, we are hoping to highlight some truly amazing 3D printing projects and companies made possible by women to not only recognize their achievements, but to inspire other women and young girls to start 3D printing.

Women in 3D Printing #1: Neri Oxman

It is not by chance that Israeli designer and architect Neri Oxman is at the top of our list of women in 3D printing as she has been responsible for some amazing advancements within the field of ecological architecture. Oxman, who is a professor at the MIT Media Lab, has been using 3D printing to usher in and introduce a new architectural philosophy that is inspired by nature and material ecology. Recently, at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, Oxman even predicted that 3D printing would be responsible for a fourth industrial revolution not focused on exploitation and profit, but on humanity and ecological creation.

Women in 3D Printing #2: Jennifer A. Lewis

Dr. Jennifer A. Lewis, a professor at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, is also the co-founder of Voxel8, a startup that has begun to commercialize the 3D printing of functional materials, such as wires, embedded conductors, and batteries into the normal matrix materials of 3D printing. Lewis and her team of researchers have been responsible for making some big advancements in the field of multi-material 3D printing, having successfully 3D printed conductive inks, lightweight composites, lithium ion microbatteries, and embedded sensors in stretchable matrices. Lewis has also worked within the field of 4D printed structures, and has helped to develop quick changing multi-material printheads.

Women in 3D Printing #3: Grace Choi

Grace Choi, a graduate from Harvard Business School and the founder of the world’s first makeup 3D printer Mink, is another inspiring and successful female figure in the world of 3D printing. Her makeup 3D printer was first presented at Techcrunch Disrupt in 2014 and provoked much interest in both the maker community and mainstream news. Mink, which is capable of 3D printing custom colored makeup from colors selected by you on a desktop computer, even shocked the makeup industry through its capability to create any color on demand.

Women in 3D Printing #4: Caroline Walerud

25-year-old Caroline Walerud was recently added to Forbes’ renowned 30 under 30 for her innovative work developing 3D foot scanners and has also made it onto our list of inspiring women for her dedication to 3D scanning technologies and innovations. Walerud is the co-founder of Stockholm-based startup Volumental, which is using 3D scanning technologies to find the perfect fit for shoe-shoppers. Excitingly, the company recently made a deal with U.S. retailer Nordstrom to implement their 3D foot scanning system, and will soon branch out into their second phase of 3D facial scanning for opticians and eyewear brands.

Women in 3D Printing #5: Ann Marie Shillito

In 2007, contemporary designer/maker Ann Marie Shillito co-founded the Scotland-based 3D software development company Anarkik3D. Since then, Anarkik3D has been a useful platform for designers unaccustomed to using CAD technologies to work with 3D modeling. Created by and for designers, Shillito’s company has incorporated touch and tactility into 3D modeling through their signature haptic 3D mouse, making for a unique and innovative 3D design experience.

Women in 3D Printing #6: Nora Toure

Not only has Nora Toure had a successful career in the 3D printing industry working as Sales Manager for online 3D printing service Sculpteo, but she is also the founder of Women in 3D Printing, a progressive blog that highlights influential women within the 3D printing world all year round. Along with a team of four other women, Toure conducts interviews and writes profiles on women within the industry, effectively showcasing how crucial women are to the continued development of 3D printing technologies.

Women in 3D Printing #7: Kerry Hogarth

In 2012, Kerry Hogarth founded 3D Printshow with the aim of showcasing innovation within the 3D printing world and introducing the technology to other industries, such as the healthcare, aerospace, and automotive industries. Since its founding, Hogarth’s 3D Printshow has been recognized as the world’s first fully interactive 3D printing show and has gone on to host some of the most renowned events in the 3D printing world by bringing together the most innovative names of the industry with individual creatives using 3D printing. Though Hogarth sold part of her company to Tarsus PLC in 2014, she continues to work on spreading the potentials of 3D printing with 3D Printshow.

Women in 3D Printing #8: Cherie Stamm

Cherie Stamm, another influential woman in 3D printing, is the co-founder of Norwegian 3D software development company Uformia. With a background in IT technologies and digital processes, with a special interest in 3D modeling and printing, Stamm and her team have successfully created a volumetric 3D modeling software that is built to prioritize parametric 3D fabrication instead of just visualization. Not only that, Stamm has built her company around a humanitarian and ecological ethos focused on community development and open source innovation.

Women in 3D Printing #9: Stefanie Mueller

Stefanie Mueller was sure to make it onto our list of influential women in the industry as we have followed her various and impressive engineering projects over the past two years. Mueller is a PhD student in the Human Computer Interaction Group at the Hasso-Plattner-Institute in Germany, and has helped to create a number of notable projects in her time there, such at the LaserStacker, a 3D laser cutter; the Protopiper, a sort of large-scale 3D printing pen; a 3D patching system; Scotty, a conceptual teleporting 3D printer; Platener, a 3D software that uses both 3D printing and laser cutting; WirePrint, a generative software that speeds up prototyping; and faBrickator, a software that “legofies” your design.

Women in 3D Printing #10: Jessica Rosenkrantz

Jessica Rosenkrantz is one half of generative design studio Nervous System, which you may know from its amazing Kinematic designs. Along with her partner Jesse Louis-Rosenberg, Rosenkrantz has been integrating new technologies such as 3D printing, generative systems, and webGL, into unconventional design projects since 2007. Nervous System’s 3D printed kinematic flowing dress design, as well as their more recent 3D printed petal dress have provided a unique model for 3D printing a whole garment on a relatively small 3D printer. Rosenkrantz, a graduate in architecture and biology from MIT never ceases to inspire us through her uncanny ability to combine generative design, innovative materials, and 3D printing to create stunning works of fashion art. In fact, Nervous System’s 3D printed dresses are even featured at renowned art museums such as the MoMA and the MFA Boston.

Women in 3D Printing #11: Iris van Herpen

Of course we had to include Iris van Herpen on our list of innovative women within the field of 3D printing as the Dutch designer was the first to ever send a 3D printed fashion piece down the runway in 2010. Since the debut of that first piece, Crystallization, van Herpen has forged on into the world of 3D printed fashions making some of the most conceptually intricate and physically beautiful 3D printed garments we’ve ever seen. A pioneer of 3D printed fashion, van Herpen has been an inspiration to innovative fashion designers everywhere.

Women in 3D Printing #12: Danit Peleg

Israeli fashion designer Danit Peleg has also been a big inspiration to us at 3Ders, and we are sure many other designers and makers out there can say the same. The fashion design student made a name for herself last year when she designed and created an entire ready-to-wear collection on a desktop 3D printer. Not only did the additively manufactured garments turn out stunningly, but the collection was Peleg’s first 3D printed endeavour. Now, after the success of her stylish and accessible 3D printed garments, Peleg works as a technology advisor for designers and fashion houses.

Women in 3D Printing #13: Megumi Igarashi

Sometimes the most innovative and inspirational people are those who cause some controversy, which is exactly the case with Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi who 3D scanned and printed a sculpture of her own vagina. While the piece may have provoked interest almost anywhere, Igarashi was actually arrested for her 3D printed vagina as Japanese officials claimed she was illegally spreading obscenity. Now, two years after her initial arrest, Igarashi is still entangled in court processes and is being fined thousands of dollars, but has continued to create her progressive 3D printed artworks despite this. You go Rokude Nashiko! (Japanese for “bad girl”).

Women in 3D Printing #14: Anouk Wipprecht

Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht is one of the leading forces in the field of Fashion-Tech, which seeks to combine fashion with engineering, science, and interactive user experience. The designer has not only forged an impressive path into the future of smart wearables, but has consistently used 3D printing technologies to do so. From her 3D printed Smoke Dress which was unveiled in 2013, to her 3D printed robotic Spider Dress, Anouk Wipprecht has truly brought fashion into the future with wearables that not only look amazing, but respond and react to their wearer and their environment.

Women in 3D Printing #15: Ping Fu

Ping Fu is the definition of a powerful tech entrepreneur, and is definitely one of the most inspirational women in 3D printing today. Fu is the co-founder of 3D software development company Geomagic, where she served as CEO until the company was acquired by 3D Systems in 2013. At that point, Fu rose to the occasion, and became Vice President and Chief Entrepreneur Officer at 3D Systems, one of the leading 3D printer companies in the world. Fu has been honored with several awards, including being named Inc. magazine's 2005 "Entrepreneur of the Year."

What's even more incredible, is that Ping Fu's massive influence in the tech world goes beyond 3D printing: In the early 1990s, while working at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), she helped initiate Mosaic—an early web browser that helped popularize the World Wide Web as we know it today.

Women in 3D Printing #16: Cathy Lewis

3D Systems is one of the leading industrial 3D printer manufacturers in the world, thanks in large part to the business savvy of our next influential woman in 3D printing: Cathy Lewis. As Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Lewis is responsible for all marketing strategies and functions, including global branding, multi-channel marketing, and the positioning and marketing of the company's leadership and product services. Before joining 3D Systems, Lewis spent more than ten years at Xerox in a number of executive marketing and sales management positions. She then became CEO of Desktop Factory, a 3D printer startup that was acquired by 3D Systems in 2009. The rest, as they say, is history.

Women in 3D Printing #17: Alice Taylor

Alice Taylor is the inspirational woman behind the world's first customizable 3D printed doll, Makies. What makes Makies 3D printed dolls stand out is that, rather than promoting unhealthy body images or an unattainable sense of 'perfection,' Makies are user-customizable, and designed to look just their like one-of-a-kind owners. Going even further, Makies can be customized to represent a range of disabilities, from deafness to mobility issues to birthmarks, helping to erase the stigma that such differences should be hidden from view, and empowering girls of all ages to feel confident in their skin. MakieLab, of which Taylor is founder and CEO, secured a $1.4m seed investment in 2012, and is currently bringing its UK-based operation to America.

Women in 3D Printing #18: Marleen Vogelaar

Way back in 2007, Marleen Vogelaar, Peter Weijmarshausen and Robert Schouwenburg founded a small spin-off of Royal Philips Electronics, called Shapeways. Flash-forward almost a decade, and Shapeways is one of the leading 3D printing services and marketplaces worldwide. As COO/CFO of the company, Vogelaar was in charge of overseeing production both in New York City and the Netherlands, and although she resigned in 2014 to pursue new areas of work, her overarching vision as one of the lead founders had a lasting effect on Shapeways, and on the 3D printing industry as a whole. 

Women in 3D Printing #19: Suz Somersall

Our last two influential women in 3D printing share a passion for promoting STEAM education—that is, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, incredibly important areas of study that, unfortunately, young girls are often discouraged from pursuing. Recently, we wrote about Suz Somersall and her project KiraKira, which is using 3D printing and jewelry design tutorials to get young girls interested in engineering and new technologies. Somersall, an industrial designer herself, saw the importance of shrinking the gender gap in such fields as engineering, and is working to inspire the next generation of women to become active makers and innovators.

Women in 3D printing #20: Barbara Hanna


Last but not least on our list of women making a difference in the world with 3D printing technology is Barbara Hanna, who has a PhD in Computer Vision, and is co-founder of both Neuromatters and 3D printing startup, Cyant. Hanna is passionate about fostering engagement, creativity, and real-world problem solving using both Arts and Technology. Lately, that passion has turned towards 3D printing technology. Cyant is a creative project that teaches children STEAM concepts by allowing them to turn their drawings into 3D printed objects. It's a fun and hands-on experience that combines creativity with the technological skills they'll need for the future.

Of course, this list of inspiring women in 3D printing is no where near exhaustive, as we come across talented female makers, designers, developers, and innovators on a nearly daily basis. For example, just last week, a team of women from the University of Illinois launched a crowdfunding campaign for their project MakerGirl, an initiative that is seeking to teach young girls the ins and outs of 3D modeling and 3D printing through a hands-on approach. 


From the team here at 3Ders, we are wishing all women in 3D printing, and everyone reading a happy International Women's Day!

Editor's note: this article has been updated to include additional relevant information.


Posted in 3D Printer Company



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3dPrintingEnthusiast wrote at 6/1/2016 11:40:38 PM:

Many of these projects I have not heard of and am not likely to be affected by by (at least in the near future). What about Gina Häußge? She is the creator of OctoPrint. The software enables users to remotely control and monitor their 3d printers. It is open source and is a key component used in many hobbyist 3d printer setups. One of the key enablers of 3d printing is that is it now accessible to everyone (i.e. RepRap) and free software like OctoPrint make it even easier for people to use.

Pamela Waterman wrote at 3/8/2016 11:35:10 PM:

Thanks so much for compiling this list and sharing it with the world. I'm a woman engineer, and all these efforts blow me away. 3D printing ingenuity plus STEAM efforts translate into women reaching a critical mass in technology - fantastic.

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