Julie Reece – “The consumer 3D printing bubble burst and now we are wisely back to focusing on the fast-growth industrial market”

Formerly the Director of Marketing at Mcor Technologies, 3D Systems and Z Corporation, and having held senior marketing and leadership team positions in global companies across industries, Julie joined Rize as Vice President of Marketing. In this role, Julie is responsible for growing global awareness, positive brand perception and driving demand for Rize’s 3D printers worldwide, as well as strategic marketing activities and programs to support the sales process. Highly regarded in the 3D printing industry, Silver Award winner of the 2017 Stevie Award for Marketing Executive of the Year and Female Executive of the Year and named by All3DP as one of the top 30 women in 3D printing, Julie brings a wealth of experience in B2B marketing. Julie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College and a Master of Science degree from Boston University.

Julie, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?

I have a Master of Science degree in Communications from Boston University and a BA in English from Trinity College, in Hartford, CT, USA. I’ve worked in a marketing capacity for a variety of industries throughout my career, including financial services, women’s apparel, software and 3D printing. I feel as though I’m part of a shrinking breed of marketing ‘generalists,’ that is, someone who has expertise across nearly every facet of marketing (PR, writing and producing different types of content, Website development, demand generation, branding, events, social marketing, project management and more…you name it). I started my career at the bottom rung of the corporate ladder and have worked very hard, clawing and scratching my way up the ladder for nearly 30 years. Although I reached a point in my career where I landed strategic senior-level roles, I am just as comfortable and happy executing every detail of the programs I develop. I thoroughly enjoy that unique combination of strategic planning and hands-on implementation across marketing disciplines, as well as rallying cross-functional and cross-geographical teams.

I fell into 3D printing completely by accident. I had been working for a company that was about to be acquired and knew from my work on their transition team, that the company’s future was very uncertain. My recruiter called me with an opportunity for which she apologized in advance, knowing that I probably wouldn’t be too excited about the prospect of working for a 3D printer manufacturer. I had never heard of 3D printing. Yet, she assured me it was a great opportunity and encouraged me to avoid making any judgments until I met them. That hiring company was Z Corporation (later acquired by 3D Systems). I joined within two weeks and never looked back. OK, there were two times I looked back – briefly. In each instance, I missed 3D printing so much, I returned in less than a year. Now I truly can’t envision working outside of the 3D printing industry.

You are now the Vice President of Marketing at Rize Inc. Could you explain furthermore what Rize is and the services that you are providing?

Rize is a Boston, USA-based, next-generation additive manufacturing company dedicated to inclusive and sustainable innovation to achieve Additive at Scale. Rize’s first product, Rize™ One, is the world’s first hybrid 3D printer and a breakthrough combining two discrete technologies, Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) and Piezo Jetting. This is enabling companies such as NASA, US Army, US Navy, ConMed and Merck, to sustainably deliver a vast range of custom and replacement end-use parts with the highest isotropic strength.

This breakthrough is made possible through Rize’s patented technology called Augmented Polymer Deposition (APD), which enables inclusive multi-material printing with minimal post processing and the sustainable use of safe, non-toxic and recyclable materials. Intelligent products increasingly require parts with variable materials, which include mechanical, electrical and chemical properties. Rize’s inclusive APD process fuses them into unified parts, enabling innovators to deliver unprecedented customer experiences. Rize solutions combine strength, safety, security, and speed, together with the most competitive price point in the industry. 

Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company or your career to share with us?

About Rize: Every Friday, regardless of the weather, we have a company BBQ lunch. Our Mechanical Engineer, Derrick Topp, used to be a chef and he whips up an amazing spread. Setting up and cleaning up from the lunch is a team effort. We frequently invite customers, partners, former colleagues and anyone interested in Rize and eating great BBQ.

About me: This is embarrassing, but still makes me laugh. People who know me well will likely just shake their heads and say, ‘typical.’ A few years before I joined the 3D printing industry, I gave a presentation on a 4-foot high stage in a massive banquet room to nearly 200 people at the company’s global sales meeting. During the presentation, I stepped back and quite literally, stepped off the back of the stage. I literally disappeared behind the stage, during my presentation. There was a gasp in the audience. I climbed back up, in my dress and heels and all I could do at that point was curtsy, smile and carry on with the presentation, despite looking out into the audience and seeing my boss laughing so hard she was sobbing. The incident was legendary at the company and it is still mentioned to me to this day.

Have you run into any challenges from being a woman in 3D Printing?

Yes, without question. But, in answering this question, I draw from experience throughout my career. What I’ve experienced in the 3D printing industry specifically isn’t any different than any other male-dominated industries. Like those industries, women in 3D printing need to be confident, outspoken and work twice as hard to be heard and respected vs. their male counterparts. Yet, the confidence to be outspoken and self-advocate can be very difficult, particularly early in your career. In fact, I have only been able to put these skills into practice over the last few years. Unfortunately, a common professional reality is that women have to prove themselves from the outset, while men are assumed proven.

In professional situations throughout my career, I’ve been spoken to in a highly inappropriate manner regarding different aspects of my appearance, told I think a certain way or have a particular opinion because I am a woman (sometimes phrased in a graphic manner), ‘hit on,’ instructed to dress in a manner and serve drinks behind a bar in a trade show booth similar to hired women meant to attract booth traffic, disregarded and talked over in meetings, regularly asked to perform administrative tasks as a senior-level employee during my busiest times that could easily have been delegated to far less-busy junior-level male colleagues and interns, paid less for equal work and education level and more. I have not seen these things happen to men and I no longer stay silent when they happen to me. I do not believe that most men intentionally practice gender inequality; sometimes they simply do not realize that they are doing so. In fact, some of the worst offenders I have experienced over the years have proudly told me how gender equal they are.

I have found great support in talking with and befriending some remarkable women in the industry and suggest that other women do the same. Sharing ideas and experiences is empowering and enormously beneficial.

What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?

I do not believe that there is one use of 3D printing that stands out as the most impactful because 3D printing has had a different game-changing impact on each industry. I am always so impressed by the ability to 3D print human organs and any medical application of 3D printing that helps save and improve human lives.

What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?

Not surprisingly, I consider Rize’s hybrid APD technology a true breakthrough in additive manufacturing. It is the only sustainable and inclusive additive manufacturing technology available that can be implemented strategically and pervasively across an enterprise’s value chain, right next to the user, to fundamentally change what the enterprise produces and how it produces them.

What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:

  • As a business person?

The 3D printing industry changes so quickly. I never could have imagined when I entered the industry 10+ years ago the advancements, applications and other changes we are seeing today. All of that presents opportunities for entirely new applications, markets, partnerships and more. We’ve only just scratched the surface; the possibilities are virtually limitless.

    • As a woman?

I am constantly challenged, not only as a woman in a predominately male industry but as a woman who is also a marketer in a community of engineers. After a 30+ year career, I still learn something new every day and, in turn, I must continually educate the engineering community about the critical value of marketing in any business and industry, including 3D printing and additive manufacturing. It keeps me on my toes and that’s a good thing.

What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?

As many of us in the industry expected, the consumer 3D printing bubble burst and now we are wisely back to focusing on the fast-growth industrial market. Yet, there is another bubble that I believe will burst; the hype around the metal 3D printing market. There are exceptional niche applications for metal 3D printers. But, enterprises need to better educate themselves about the pros and cons of, and suitable applications for, metal 3D printers.

We are also seeing hobby-class 3D printer manufacturers marketing their machines as industrial 3D printers, despite their inability to meet the rigorous mechanical and material needs of the industrial market. And, we’re seeing loads of similar technologies, some low cost and small and some high cost and large; most finding it difficult to differentiate themselves. Further, the big companies are not innovating; rather, they’re introducing different flavors of what they already have. All these factors will lead to considerable consolidation over the next couple of years.

Users I have spoken with are primarily looking new materials. I hope to see true innovation and greater synergy across all parts of the additive manufacturing ecosystem, including materials, software, and hardware.

In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?

Organizations, such as Women in 3D Printing, as well as panels about women in 3D printing, will unquestionably result in an increase in women not only participating in additive manufacturing but being recognized more for their contributions and taking leadership roles at their companies. The more that women outside the industry and graduating from schools can see the accomplishments and influence of women in our industry, the more they will be inspired to join.

Undoubtedly, large companies with sophisticated human resources departments have documented gender equality in hiring policies and initiatives in place. It might be more difficult to implement at smaller companies where HR is less formalized. In both cases, establishing a small cross-functional and cross-gender team or committee to plan, prioritize and implement gender equality and awareness training, academic scholarships, hiring initiatives and anonymous reporting/suggestions would be a great start.


Thank you for reading and for sharing! 

We invite you to join Women in 3D Printing on LinkedIn and to like our Facebook page for further discussion.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: