Pia, could you let us know briefly about your background and your journey into Additive Manufacturing?
I have always been a creative person who loves to create an impact with good communication. Until my first internship in the international advertising team at BMW in 2014, I always wanted to be a journalist.
During my media & communications studies, I wrote for the Süddeutsche Zeitung and later for Noisey, the music editorial department of the online magazine Vice.
At BMW, I got to know the marketing and business side of communication, which I found surprisingly interesting as well.
The development of a campaign idea and the worldwide roll-out of this campaign made me extremely enthusiastic. I quickly realized that I was also interested in economic contexts, which were somewhat neglected in music and local journalism.
I wrote my thesis at BMW and almost started working there permanently, if my friends Felix and Philipp had not founded DyeMansion at the same time.
I was super thrilled about their courage and drive to build up a business of their own and thus to move much faster and have a bigger personal impact than in a large corporation like BMW.
I very quickly turned my back on corporate life and joined DyeMansion as the 6th employee.
At that time, we did not even have a newsletter or flyers – not to mention a marketing strategy. That was 2016. Today, I am leading our Global Marketing, Corporate Communications & Customer Experience activities with a team of seven.
Besides the fact that I thought working with friends would be awesome, I was curious about 3D-printing, even though I had no idea about it to be honest.
I remember watching the documentary “Print the Legend” on Netflix and thinking to myself “Wow, that’s the future, I want to get involved here”.
Could you remind us of what is DyeMansion and what is the story behind it?
With DyeMansion we have made it from our founder Philipp’s basement in Munich to a global company in the last five years.
Let’s start with where we are now. Today, we are the global leader in automated post-processing technology for industrial polymer 3D-printing. We cover all the steps after the production itself that are needed to produce high-volume and high-value applications with Additive Manufacturing.
In short, our technology turns 3D-printed raw parts into high-value, colorful products. We are 87 people, working at our two facilities in Munich, Germany and Austin, Texas.
As of today, our global team together with our strong local sales partners serves over 650 customers in 34 countries. Our technology is used by companies of all sizes and in various industries.
Ranging from small and medium-sized businesses to many of the big brands, they produce custom-fit eyewear, tailor-made orthotics, or automotive spare- and interior parts.
Together with our customers and partners we drive the industrialization of Additive Manufacturing by making the factory of the future a reality and enabling new applications. Now back to the basement.
Our founders Felix and Philipp started their 3D-printing venture with customized smartphone cases in the corporate design of big corporates. Their first products sold were a major failure and colored the clothes of their customers. But they did not give up.
Since there was no suitable solution for coloring their smartphone cases at that time, they did their own research and experiments in Philipp’s basement in Munich. Eventually, they managed to come up with a stable coloring after a while.
At the same time, they met Arno Held from AM Ventures. He gave them courage to focus on the coloring itself and leave the smartphone cases behind. Felix and Philipp agreed and received seed funding from AM Ventures in 2015.
All on the promise that they would manage to make their coloring solution scalable and turn it into a machine concept. That is what they did, and that sealed the deal for DyeMansion.
Pretty much exactly when the first product, our DM60 coloring system was ready and presented at the Formnext start-up challenge, I joined the team in 2016.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
When we started with DyeMansion five years ago, eyewear was one of the first applications that crossed our path and required a nice finish. Back then, we dreamed about how crazy it would be seeing people walking around with 3D-printed frames finished by us.
Today, you can find those eyewear frames in almost every optician in Europe alongside traditional glasses. I just recently saw Oprah Winfrey interviewing Megan and Prince Harry. Oprah wore her Götti glasses finished with our technology.
So, you can really say 3D-printed eyewear became part of our everyday life. For me, this is a great achievement which makes me proud.
My very personal biggest achievement is probably having established the “Rave Til AM” networking party every first night of Formnext.
Offering so many people from the AM industry an unforgettable evening and a platform to exchange ideas and conversations, makes me super happy.
Hopefully, this can happen again this year. Live and in color.
It was the “Rave Til AM” party 2019 when I decided to focus more on the field of Customer Experience besides the classic Marketing role.
Providing our customers and partners with the best possible brand experience is super exciting.
Have you run into any challenges (or opportunities) from being a woman 3D Printing?
Yes, I did. Five years ago, I started as the first women working full-time at DyeMansion.
Today, we are 27 women within DyeMansion, which is approx. 32%. A good start in a technical environment, but still a long way to go. But we can already see today that the diversity really changes our company culture for good.
In some respects, being a 28-year-old woman with leadership responsibility in our male-dominated industry is not always easy.
I sometimes feel that I have to say my opinion out loud more often and louder than a man in the same role would until it is truly heard by everyone. But I do not let that get me down.
On the contrary, it inspires and encourages me every day to prove that you can make a difference in a technical industry like ours being a woman under 30 if you know your handcraft and have a strong mindset.
In my experience, a certain team diversity brings many advantages when it comes to cooperating with customers or executing big projects. I will continue to advocate this diversity in my working environment every day.
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
Just do it and do not worry too much about all the pros and cons.
The beauty of the 3D-printing industry is that it is growing very fast and is super innovative. Whether you are looking for technical or economic positions, I am convinced that you can find your place here very well and can have a huge impact.
Personally, I think small or mid-sized companies with a pleasant culture and great development potential are super to get a foothold here. Those are the perfect playground to discover the industry and your own strengths.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
Initiatives like Women in 3D Printing are exactly the right way to go. On the one hand, it is super important for women who have already gained a foothold in the industry to create a network and an exchange between each other.
On the other hand, a lot can be done in the phase before that. Education at universities and initiatives like the Women in 3D Printing Next Gen Mentor Program, in which I also participate as a mentor, are super helpful.
Finally, companies themselves also have a certain responsibility and a big influence on this. They should make themselves attractive for women – this could apply to their corporate culture, the openness to female leadership positions or the strengthening of diverse team structures.
Favorite moment in your day job?
Entering in the office in the morning and welcoming all my friends and colleagues with a smile on their faces.
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years?
Buying myself a fancy sneaker with a 3D-printed sole in a nice shiny color and seeing the fully automated factory where it is being produced.