Last week was Women in 3D Printing‘s much anticipated TIPE conference. It was a 2 day celebration of all things Additive Manufacturing (AM) with 147 (yes, that’s not a typo) AM experts that informed, inspired, and provoked thought. Since there were 5 tracks I did not hear all talks live but I did get access to the recordings so I could hear more than what the live event allowed for. There were many inspirational, useful, and informative talks and panels and I certainly can’t cover all of them. Encouraging young people, especially young women, to dare is one of my 2 strongest recommendations (the other is: ask for what you want) so I was happy to hear this repeated throughout the conference. Many impressive women shared their career path in the conference and it seemed to me that while the paths were highly diverse the common denominator was that at one point or another each one of them had the courage to dare and take a risk, or a leap of faith. For many that daring move was choosing the AM industry, or choosing entrepreneurship, or both. In this post I want to highlight 2 inspiring women that dared in a variation on these two themes. Both leaders are the 2nd generation running their family business, but they boldly forge their own lane in this seemingly preordained path.
The first one I’d like to highlight is Marie Langer who spoke of her decision to head EOS as the daughter of EOS’ founder, Hans Langer. Langer spoke at a super interesting keynote panel on day 2 of TIPE, moderated by Sarah Goehrke. I should also mention that Vicki Holt, who will retire from Protolab after an impressive career, Michelle Bockman and Sonita Lontoh were also on this panel. Langer spoke of her journey and admitted that initially she was not at all interested in 3D Printing in spite of it being very present in her home due to EOS. While her father wanted one of his children to take over the family business one day, she wasn’t sure she wanted to do that especially when he mentioned that this would require studying business or law in university. Instead, she followed her own interest and studied Psychology – a fascinating area – and discovered organizational behavior (a discipline of business studies that incorporates a lot of psychology). Some may see this as defiant or daring but I think her next move was the really courageous one: Langer realized she wanted to make a difference and that AM did just that and then, in spite of her earlier position and all other appearances, she decided to work towards taking the helm at EOS. Some people think family succession is easy – handed out to the next generation. I respectfully disagree. It is a big responsibility and independent capable individuals don’t want to be in their parents’ shadow so it takes a lot of courage for the 2nd generation to lead the family business and believe they can outgrow that shadow. Langer took this challenge head on and set a course for EOS to focus on sustainability which is close to her heart – to me, that is really inspiring. It will be fascinating to see how EOS develops under Marie Langer’s leadership!
The second leader I’d like to highlight is Valeria Tirelli, CEO of Aidro, who gave a very interesting talk in day 1 of TIPE. Aidro was founded by Paolo Tirelli about 40 years ago. Paolo is an engineer and Valeria studied business and worked mostly at Solvay before taking the helm from her father at Aidro in 2012. Tirelli was introduced to 3D printing and was fascinated by the possibilities opened up by AM. It is not a trivial decision to embrace AM in the conservative space of hydraulics but Tirelli dared to take this route. It took patience, perseverance and passion on her side to get it done but there are already several resulting parts which Tirelli shared in her talk. AM has allowed Aidro to create lighter and better innovative parts: 75% weight reduction in a hydraulic manifold in one case while in another a 60% weight reduction that enabled an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions. In heat exchangers, Aidro managed to reduce the overall size of one by 80% and to reduce the heat exchanger’s weight by 85%. Tirelli is especially excited about the opportunity to make the impossible possible with additive manufacturing. She shared a video of an inspiring example: a custom ServoFly part that enabled the first one handed commercial pilot in Italy – fulfilling his lifelong dream that previously seemed impossible. Engineering innovation, business innovation and inspiration all in one place – I really enjoyed this talk.
I’ve always thought that female role models are crucial for younger people in any industry – I was happy and proud to see so many in the TIPE conference. Having them highlight their daring choices was a real bonus. I encourage you to check out which of the many journeys presented at TIPE you relate to.
For more insights and information on additive manufacturing (3D printing) follow us on LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter for weekly updates. Pictures: top photo taken at FormNext, statistics on TIPE, and capture from Valeria Tirelli’s talk.