Nadia Yaakoubi began her international career in additive manufacturing in 2014. She has experience in the space of material processing technologies like FFF, SLA and DLP of plastic, advanced ceramic and metal. Prior to joining Raise3D, she had her own consulting company GetReady43D. Nadia is an active member of the Women in 3D Printing Community and for her, 3D printing is not only a job but a passion.
Nadia, could you let us know briefly about your background and your journey into Additive Manufacturing?
I discovered Additive Manufacturing (AM) for the first time during my graduation project, which involved the realization of a RepRap 3D printer. After learning about traditional machining and other material processing techniques like milling, turning, and welding, AM’s potential became obvious to me and utterly mind-blowing. I thought, “this is it.” Why aren’t we all doing it already? AM is the next revolution in manufacturing!” I made a promise to myself that I would be part of this revolution, no matter what. But going from that idea to accomplishment, it was a challenge in an industry that is so young. It took me two years before I started my international career in the 3D printing space.
By then, I was living in London and started as an intern at a 3D printer startup. Through a series of fortunate occurrences, this internship led me to an opportunity in Portugal, where I ended up meeting the then co-founder of my company – GetReady43D. We offered AM education content and consulting services. This went so well that we ended up being acquired by iGo3D, a German company and one of the biggest AM distributors in Europe. I worked here for two years before I got the itch again for something new. Finally, for the past four years, I live in the Netherlands, where I’m helping 3D printer manufacturers like Raise3D in developing marketing and sales in Europe.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
Starting my company at the age of 21 and selling it was one of my greatest achievements thus far.
Starting my own business made me aware that grit and passion can truly take you anywhere.
During this time, I was particularly proud of helping Fortune 500 companies in implementing Additive Manufacturing.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career to share with us?
Now that I look back, I remember that only women participated in my 3D printing graduation project.
The local newspaper highlighted the project as ‘pink’ because it was exceptional to find women prevailing in such a male-dominated education.
Who would have thought that at this point, I would be part of Women in 3D Printing! Hehe…
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman in 3D Printing?
As a young woman in 3D printing, the difficulty, ironically, was the fact of not being able to see any challenge; because I was already used to being in a male-dominated environment. Eventually, I realized that I was just guilty of being naïve. The turning point that led to a real change in my career was the moment I acknowledged that I had to behave differently as a woman. I’m not saying that I had to change myself – I’d never do that – but I had to reflect more on my actions and consequences. Because when you are a woman in business, among all men, a lot can be misinterpreted. This was challenging, especially when my job required me to do international travel where female presence was scarce, to say the least. This is why today, I’m so grateful to Nora for starting Women in 3D printing back in 2014. The community helps me get connected and inspired by other women in the industry from everywhere in the world.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
3D printed space rockets!!! Holy moly, this makes me so excited! I never thought I’d be able to say this so soon. I’m a huge fanatic of space and a huge fan of companies like Relativity Space and SpaceX that try to do the thing once thought impossible as a private company. I keep a close eye on the space industry as it is an industry that’s close to my heart, and I hope to work in… When I read in the news about production processes using 3D printing from Relativity Space or SpaceX, my heart starts beating faster. Especially with Relativity Space, a space company with 100% Additive Manufacturing operations!!
I love seeing the increase in investments in ‘startups’ that apply 3D printing in space and med-tech; as opposed to the past years where investments would go mainly to 3D printing manufacturers.
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
My advice to other women is this: “please follow your passion no matter what!”. “And if other people are keeping you away from it, who cares!” I grew up with arbitrary rules about what women are supposed or not supposed to do. What helped me stay away from meaningless dogmas is my belief in taking full ownership and accountability of your life, career, and dreams.
I believe in owning your failures, learning from them, and carrying on!
Bear in mind that a career in AM may require you to relocate, and my advice, in this case, is not to be frightened by travel because wherever you go, there will be a woman in 3D printing happy to support you. 🙂 Also, it’s good to know that most 3D printing companies require you to know a good English level as they operate in an international environment. If you’re not comfortable with living abroad or speaking English, I highly recommend looking at 3D printing resellers or service providers in your country. These businesses are exciting and rapidly changing because they are the ones interfacing with the customer every day. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
I think that it starts with raising interest and awareness for STEM and AM technology among women. Women in 3D Printing is already doing a fantastic job by providing a female voice to the industry.
If we start talking less about the technology itself and more about what it enables other companies to do, we can perhaps encourage more women with non-technical backgrounds to take a smart and exciting career choice in an AM enabled industry.
Favorite 3D tool?
cutter plier, it’s the tool I miss the most when I don’t have it.
Favorite moment in your day job?
Calls and meetings with customers.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview?
Marlou de Jong, from Formlabs.