Dana McCallum has a history in manufacturing, beginning her career in injection molding and 3D printing. You may know her as the Head of Production Partnerships at Carbon, or as the Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG). She is also an active member of Women in Manufacturing (WiM) and is the Director for WiM’s California chapter. She definitely is one woman shaping today and tomorrow’s manufacturing.
Dana, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?
I graduated from the Miami University of Ohio with a Strategic Communications degree thinking I wanted to go into HR but found out quickly through an internship that policy writing was not for me. Long story short, the CEO of Thogus in Avon Lake, Ohio asked me if I would be interested in creating their marketing department. Not having any background in manufacturing or even knowing what injection molding was I said “Yes, of course!” At the same time I began working at Thogus, CEO, Matt Hlavin was starting up a 3D printing service bureau called rapid prototype and manufacturing (rp+m) and a medical device company, JALEX where I was also responsible for marketing. The lack of knowledge didn’t stop me from jumping hurdles to understand injection molding and 3D Printing. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work on the program management team, being a liaison between the customers and operations. I also worked a few shifts as an operator. Both of these gave me a hands-on learning experience, which was critical for my career success.
Between the injection molding side, 3d printing and medical device design, I fell in love with manufacturing. I didn’t have any knowledge of manufacturing growing up so I took little things for granted, such as brushing your teeth. Do you know how much work goes into making a toothbrush?
My passion developed not only from the appreciation of manufacturing but also because of the people I surrounded myself with. I expanded my network by being nominated and elected onto the Additive Manufacturing Users Group (AMUG) Board of Directors (Thank you, Terry Hoppe and Patrick Gannon). The board and the members who attend AMUG every year are absolutely amazing. The team at Thogus and it’s family of companies, the AMUG Board, my mentors and my network pushed me to learn more and more every day.
In 2015, I joined Carbon to continue my passion within 3D manufacturing. My colleagues at Carbon are second to none. I can proudly say they are the most talented people and we are having so much fun pushing the boundaries of additive manufacturing in many different markets. The learning has not stopped.
Could you tell us more about your role at Carbon?
My role at Carbon is Head of Production Partners. We are no longer using the term Service Bureau – they all do much more than printing parts, especially with DLS (Digital Light Synthesis). I am working very close with our production partners and their customers on end-use parts that were once injection molded or urethane casted that can now be printed directly with DLS. This has never been done before. My ultimate role is to ensure each of our production partners are successful and utilization rates on their printers are increasing. I do this through several pillars that I have identified to be key areas of focus. Our production partners are extensions of Carbon, so we are treating them as true partners and providing the upmost support.
And what about AMUG?
My current role on the AMUG board is Vice President. There is a team of us to handle this role because AMUG is growing substantially year over year. Our goal is to obtain sponsors and exhibitors for the conference. In addition, we ensure we are strategically focusing on the right areas for our members and showcasing the latest additive technology, software, and materials.
Do you notice a gender gap within the customers and partners you’re talking to? (at Carbon and with AMUG)
There are fewer women than men within all of manufacturing, however, it is improving. There are a lot of efforts through Women in Manufacturing, AMUG, Women in 3D Printing, etc. to address this gender gap. In fact, I was just speaking at Oracle’s Women’s Supply Chain event about this. Safra Catz, CEO at Oracle, has a large initiative to empower women. Her advice is to “keep pushing”!
I embrace times when I am the only female in meetings because this is opportunity to demonstrate pioneering and leadership to help narrow the gap. At Carbon, our CEO, Joseph DeSimone, fully supports diversity and has created diversity as the tenant of innovation; valuing women’s contributions and skills.
While all of these efforts are fantastic and are impacting the gender gap, my belief is we have to start these efforts before careers begin. My goal is to create a movement in educating kids on manufacturing, including 3D printing, at a very young age. Part of this movement will help girls to feel comfortable and excited to pursue careers in manufacturing whether it be in operations, marketing, engineering, HR, etc.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career at Carbon to share with us?
Everything about Carbon is fun! We have a great group of team members and dogs AND get to meet amazing people every week – two of my favorites moments are drinking a margarita with Jimmy Buffet and spending the day with Jon Favreau. I have been privileged to be able to work for companies that can have a lot of fun while working hard and exceeding goals. Sometimes we get so bogged down in our work, we forget to come up and take a breath. This happens to me often, however never forget to spend time with your team members, smile, laugh and have fun. Doing this will only make you all more successful!
What was the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
Carbon’s recent partnership launch with Adidas will be the largest additive manufacturing application in the industry. Shout out to my direct manager, Phil DeSimone, for bringing this opportunity to Carbon. This particular application is one that proves manufacturing in the millions is possible using a 3D printing technology; outperforming traditional manufacturing processes.
It will be exciting to see new production applications, similar to Adidas, come to fruition in the upcoming months.
You are clearly passionate and invested in the Additive Manufacturing industry, and even in Manufacturing at large since you are a key member of Women in Manufacturing and in charge of their California chapters. What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:
- As a business person?
To be able to be apart of 3D Printing very early on, seeing the hype cycle effect and now to be at the forefront of changing what was once a prototyping industry into manufacturing is astonishing. We are all changing the way things are designed and made, and making what was once impossible, possible. I get to work with top companies in the world to help make their business and products better – what is more exciting than that?
- As a woman?
Being a woman in 3D printing is fantastic. I want to bring all women together (along with men) to show it’s possible for each of us to be successful in manufacturing. The key is finding the best mentors to not let you back down and to maintain confidence. Focusing on areas of strengths and using those to create wins within their careers.
I recently took a Women in Manufacturing Leadership Executive course through WiM and Case Western University where I had time to focus on my career goals and create plans to meet those goals. Never in a million years did I think I wanted to be CEO, but after walking through several exercises, I learned that it is my career path – I want to be a CEO. I can comfortably say that to anyone no longer feeling nervous or embarrassed. That is a huge step for me! In addition, the cohort of women I was with became mentors who I can lean on for advice and guidance.
For all women in this industry, don’t be afraid to speak up and work on expanding your network. These have been part of my core.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
The industry has been around for 30 years, which a lot of people do not realize. We have come a long way since then and I think we are just at the beginning to see another spike in the industry. Metal OEMs have been working on production parts for a few years, however, I believe we are just starting to tap into production (end use parts) with polymers. Evolving into production creates more opportunities for every company in the world to produce parts faster with fewer design limitations. We can now start focusing on ‘how do you really need this part to function’ and create designs based on those requirements rather than being held back from molding restrictions.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
I think it starts with everyone reading this article. We need more voices and showing how career opportunities are available for women in 3D Printing. Getting involved with groups such as Women in 3D Printing, Women in Manufacturing, AMUG, and creating even more events to bring women together are also very helpful. Imagine how much of an impact it would be if each of us reading this article reached out to 2-3 women to talk about how they can get involved in the industry.
Lastly, I always like to show my appreciation to those who have surrounded me throughout my career thus far. A huge THANK YOU to everyone who I have worked with (whether at the companies I’ve worked for, partners, through AMUG, etc.) – I look forward to seeing how we can move the manufacturing industry forward together!
Thank you for reading and for sharing!