Brenna, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
I got started in 3D printing in college. I was a mechanical engineering major at Penn State, and during my time there, I worked in a lab researching material properties of various metals produced by additive manufacturing.
What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
My first experience with 3D printing was in college. I took a class in which our first project was to 3D print a toy car. I thought it was a fun challenge to rethink traditional structures with the freedom 3D printing creates.
You are an Additive Manufacturing Engineer at Arconic. Could you tell us a bit more about your area of expertise?
I specialize in the manufacturing of metal alloys for a variety of industrial applications.
You are also Women in 3D Printing’s Austin, Texas’s ambassador. What can you tell us about Austin’s community? What makes it unique?
Austin is a great area to be in because of the incredible resources we have available. There are tons of people to connect with, and a great market for 3D printing.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman engineer in 3D Printing?
There is an inherent challenge to working in a male-dominated field. It can sometimes be a bit isolating when there aren’t a lot of women to connect with. It’s important to be confident in your ideas and to speak up whenever you can.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
The most impressive use of 3D printing I’ve seen so far is in medical implants and prosthetics. It’s incredible that fully customized parts can be created by 3D printing and used as an extension of the human body.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
I think the most game-changing technology right now is in-situ monitoring of builds. Utilizing sensors to monitor the atmosphere and deposition of material will enable us to predict the quality of parts as they come off a machine.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:
- As an engineer?
The 3D printing industry is an amazing industry for an engineer to get experience in because it is new and emerging. There is a lot to learn, and a lot of innovation in this field, so there is a lot of opportunities for you to make your mark.
- As a woman?
Similarly, there is a lot to be accomplished in this field, so it is exciting to see a manufacturing field where women get in on the ground floor and pave the way for the gap of women in STEM to be closed.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
The 3D printing industry today is young. There are many start-ups and newer companies creating technologies to be used in 3D printing. I would like to see us continue to investigate the technologies at our disposal to establish a good understanding of all that can be done with 3D printing. There is a lot to be gained in using 3D printing in manufacturing, so I would like to see a trust developed in the technology rivaling traditional manufacturing methods.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
I think we can encourage more women to become involved with 3D printing by showing the diversity of its application. By showcasing a large variety of industries utilizing 3D printing, there is an opportunity to draw women from many different backgrounds and industries.
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)? FDM printers!
Favorite moment in your day job? Playing with models for printability
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? Innovation in build strategy to reduce support requirements