Resha Agarwal – “3D printing has already broken the barriers of traditional ways of design. Similarly, we have to break the traditional belief that manufacturing is a man’s game”

Resha Agarwal is the Marketing Head at Imaginarium India Pvt Ltd. As such, she is responsible for marketing initiatives of the company, catering to a vast array of industries ranging from jewelry, medical, automotive to education.

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

This may sound very cheesy, but it was love and marriage that got me into 3D printing!

I was first introduced to 3D printing in 2009, by my then boyfriend (now husband), while he was pursuing his Masters in Rapid Product Development from De Montfort University, UK. We used to discuss his assignments, ongoing projects, and his internship. Back then, I had thought of 3D printing as something very interesting and something relevant only for engineers.

I come from a marketing and communication background. Having studied Consumer Psychology and Economics, my interest lies in exploring and comprehending ethnographic and individual shopping behavior. Hence, RP (rapid prototyping) or 3D printing was nothing but “engineering” for me.

Come 2012, we decided to get married and the first condition was to move in together. He was employed with Materialise in Malaysia while I was with TomTom (the GPS and navigation giant) in India. It was then that I thought of applying for a marketing position in Materialise Malaysia and here I am, six years down the line happily married and 3D printing!

What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?

Visiting Materialise HQ in Leuven, Belgium was a part of my induction program. Although I had seen the samples and processes in the Malaysia office, it was the Leuven office that made my jaws drop. I was welcomed by these gorgeous, never seen before, 3D printed lamps, the majestic Rootchair and the Fractal coffee table.

I was awestruck with the size and working model of the medical unit. I saw thousands of surgical guides being minutely scrutinized for quality and then packed carefully, each with its code in a separate box, as each of those were customized for a specific patient situation. Coming face to face with the giant printers, working their magic up the layers, was just what I needed to break all my inhibitions (of not being an engineer) and immediately build a rapport with 3D Printing.

Could you explain furthermore what Imaginarium is and the services that you are providing?

Imaginarium is one of the pioneers of 3D printing and advanced manufacturing technology in India. It houses the largest set up of 3D printers in the country and has helped disrupt the manufacturing sector by enabling enterprises to prototype faster, design better and realize products in the shortest of time spans. 
With a complete ecosystem of production services, Imaginarium and its range of industry-specific verticals are a platform for ideation and execution, backed up by decades of expertise. Whether it’s manufacturing exquisite jewelry, innovating engineering applications or saving lives with patient-specific solutions, Imaginarium is committed to seamlessly transforming ideas into reality and creating things that make a difference. 

Today you’re the Marketing Head at Imaginarium. Could you tell us more about your experience and your main missions in the company?

The first year was all about 3D printing ‘awareness’. Every campaign, every event, and every initiative was to answer one simple question – What is 3D Printing? It’s not magic, it’s not sci-fi; it’s a manufacturing technology which helps you get closer to your end product in a faster, cheaper and better manner.

The next year was about the huge potential and applications of 3D Printing. I enjoyed this phase as it involved a lot of storytelling which of course meant a lot of raising eyebrows and dropping jaws.

Now, India is in a phase where we know and understand the technology, its potential and are looking for avenues to associate with it. And at Imaginarium, I am on a mission to make this happen. Imaginarium is a neutral platform where ideas get access to the best in technology and ultimately mature to become a business. We reach out to innovators, tinkerers, designers, from all fields, give them access to our expertise and facility, co-create and ultimately help them realize their dreams.   

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

I do, and I experienced this very recently while conducting an ‘intro to 3D Printing’ session with 9yr old kids. After the explanation and a few videos, I asked the group – “So what would you like to print for yourself?”, and one of them raised his hand and replied – “ Ma’am, I would like to print Abhishek’s brain and put it in mine”. When a bit nerved, I asked the reason for this, he very innocently replied – “Because he stands first in class”.

This brought two things to my attention: 

  1. How are we marketing 3D printing? Taglines like – make anything, create anything. No barriers, no restrictions. Your ideas turned into real objects. How are our audiences interpreting these taglines?
  2. How are we bringing up our children? Are we pressuring them to the extent that they want someone else’s brain to perform well? Are we comparing our precious child to someone else’s? Are we not teaching them to love themselves for who they are?

I personally enjoy interacting with kids. It gives me a refreshing break and an opportunity to test my communication skills 😉

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

Not at all. The journey so far has been very smooth, delightful and totally inspirational. Even when I look around I see so many women associated with 3D Printing at various levels and all doing so well.

However, internally I have always had the nudge to work on the shop floor, to be able to operate the machines, to be able to design something and optimize it using (using something like Autodesk-Netfabb). In my previous jobs, I was very satisfied marketing the product or service. Here it is different. I feel like creating something of my own. Maybe because 3D Printing does that to you. It makes you want to think beyond the obvious and gives you the power (the tool) to realize your ideas into real objects.

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

For me, it has to be the use of 3D printing in medical and healthcare industry. Patient-specific implants, prosthetics, orthotics, and the future promises drugs, organs and much more. The sense of satisfaction you achieve when a patient sends you a thank you note, along with a picture of his recovery is much, much more than receiving 1 billion views on your latest marketing video

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

There are 2 bold reasons:  

  • The possibilities it opens for ‘capable individuals’ from any field of work.  
  • The opportunity it gives me to meet, learn and get inspired by these individuals at a daily level. Seriously, in the past 6 years, I have met artisans, doctors, architects, entertainers, professors, cartoonists, sportsmen and even kids who are trying to come up with their own 3D printer!

What do you consider game-changing technologies in additive manufacturing?

I feel like a child being excited about anything and everything new that comes in, but if I have to point out my personal favorite, it has to be: 

  • Concrete/construction 3D printers. Architects today are getting inspired by the structure of a bee-hive and planning something similar for populated countries and crisis management.
  • CLIP technology – and the way Carbon3D  is using it for various commercial applications.
  • HP Jet Fusion 500/300 series – for making fully colored plastic parts possible; and; HP 4200 productions printers which have a high possibility of competing with injection molding machine when new materials are developed.
  • DED (direct energy deposition) – making large metal components at an affordable cost.
  • DMLS precious metals – absolutely admire Cooksongold for taking contemporary jewelry to a whole new level. Have you checked out this bracelet?

What do you think of the 3D printing industry today in the world and in India more specifically? And how would you like to see it evolve?

While the world is now looking at newer applications, materials and 3DP technologies, India is still at the adoption stage. We are now assessing the various available technologies and trying to use it to: 

a) optimize our existing business set up

b) gain a competitive advantage

I would really like to see India contribute towards applications which suit the needs of a developing and overpopulated country like ours. I would be eager to promote, reach out to various SMEs or government bodies in India, introduce them to the potential of this technology, facilitate access and help them come up with solutions which in turn will support regional growth and developments.

For example, an NGO called Free_D is working with survivors of human trafficking in Mumbai to empower them with 3D printing and eventually giving them a source of earning.

On similar lines, we can think of ways to make our villages self-sustainable, create more entrepreneurs, more jobs and in the long run a better lifestyle for our people.

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

3D printing has already broken the barriers of traditional ways of design. Similarly, we have to break the traditional belief that manufacturing is a man’s game. That is it not about heavy duty machines, hammering, welding, grease and high temperatures. With 3D printing we have sleek and gorgeous machines which respond to a click of a button and sit in an air-conditioned room. Again I am not stereotyping women for “non-strenuous” jobs, however these are the reasons why our parents and ‘well-wishers’ push us towards a career in medical, communication or law.

With 3D printing we have various softwares which give us the design freedom and control over the most minute of details, sitting at our desks! Today, we have so many opportunities in material science which can definitely make good use of our creativity & logical reasoning prowess.

Therefore, awareness + early introduction and experience + success stories will definitely help getting more women involved with 3DP.


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: