Sherry Handel is the Executive Director at the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA), and our Women in 3D Printing Guest #266!
Sherry, could you let us know briefly about your background and your journey into Additive Manufacturing?
Prior to joining the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) as the organization’s first Executive Director, I had a good understanding of how rapid prototyping was being used extensively in the start-up space, and I had some knowledge about low-volume 3D printing. I also knew that the AM industry was scaling at double-digit growth annually. I felt that this would be an excellent opportunity to use my combined startup expertise, nonprofit experience, and business development skills to build this new industry trade group.
Several aspects about the AMGTA Executive Director role itself were attractive to me.
Building a nonprofit organization from scratch that provides benefits to its members in a fast-growing and disruptive industry was incredibly appealing to me.
Coupled with my keen interest and background in sustainability and corporate social responsibility – this opportunity really stood out. The icing on the cake was when I viewed the TEDx Talk on Green Manufacturing by Brian Neff, the CEO of Sintavia, and founder of the AMGTA. During his presentation, Brian shared a case study example of a redesigned and optimized turbine bracket for a commercial jet. He then extrapolated the weight savings of this additively manufactured bracket compared to a traditionally manufactured bracket, across an averaged sized jet fleet and analyzed the impact that the lightweighted bracket would have on the environment. Both the fuel savings and the reduction of CO2 emissions were significant.
This 10-minute video really had an impact on me. I knew that building an organization whose mission was to promote the environmental benefits of additive manufacturing would be important and inspirational work. During my initial interview for the position, I was well prepared and excited to discuss why I was the right person to lead the AMGTA.
Could you actually tell us a bit more about the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) and the story behind it?
While the economic and technical superiority of additive manufacturing is well-known within key industries, its sustainability benefits are often less well-understood. For this reason, the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA) was launched at Formnext 2019 in Frankfurt, Germany, with a mission to promote the environmental benefits of AM over traditional manufacturing.
The AMGTA is a global and unaffiliated nonprofit organization open to any additive manufacturer or industry stakeholder that meets certain criteria relating to sustainability of production or process.
As the Executive Director of the Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA), I am responsible for promoting the environmental benefits of AM over traditional manufacturing in the context of promoting the technology to our members and the public in general.
My role is to build and grow this new industry trade group worldwide and work with our member companies to take on the sustainability challenge in AM. It is exciting to see sustainability in AM gaining momentum as more companies strive to improve their eco-footprint. To help the AM industry advance sustainability we need solid, reliable sustainability data and metrics. I’m working with our Board of Directors to provide the AM industry with this much-needed research. Companies in the AM industry can support independent, rigorous, and ongoing research by joining the AMGTA in our mission to improve sustainability in additive manufacturing.
Our goal is to publish AMGTA’s research findings and share them with our members, industry, and the public as soon as each research project is completed. This published research will help spread the word about the positive environmental benefits of additive manufacturing, while also revealing areas that we as an industry need to improve upon.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
Despite the difficult global economic situation, I’m very proud to have built a member company roster that is comprised of leading AM companies that have recently joined the AMGTA to advance sustainability in AM.
I’m delighted to welcome each of our esteemed founding members and participating member companies to the AMGTA. Their commitment to support the mission of our new trade group, and passion for sustainability well positions the AMGTA to serve as a key industry resource in advancing sustainability in the AM industry. I am looking forward to working with each of our member companies as we embark on this exciting and important journey together.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about the association or your career to share with us?
Well, I joined the AMGTA in late February 2020—one week later in March the world changed because of COVID-19. An inauspicious month indeed! However, I think the fact that we have been able to grow our membership as strongly as we have in spite of the various COVID-19 difficulties is a real testament to the strength of the AMGTA’s message. We certainly have had to adjust everything we have done, like other people, but we have continued to grow.
I found innovative ways to meet key industry contacts globally through online networking (thank you Women in 3D printing for your great online venues), referrals, email introductions, and LinkedIn. Without in-person events, these virtual connection opportunities provided ways for me to meet people virtually and hold online meetings to introduce them to the AMGTA.
Within the first few months of leading the AMGTA, I witnessed first-hand how the COVID-19 pandemic increased the visibility of the 3D printing industry.
Innovative and resilient AM companies mitigated supply chain disruptions and logistical hurdles with print-on-demand efficiencies, shared CAD files and other resources, and leveraged community relationships to provide critical PPE such as face shields, testing swabs, and medical equipment parts to meet the increased demand of hospitals and health care facilities.
This perspective gives me confidence that as the AM industry continues to grow, we can tackle the challenge to advance sustainability in AM and improve our collective environmental impact globally.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman 3D Printing?
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
It’s impossible to mention only one as I’ve found many impressive and impactful uses of 3D printing during this first year of my new AM career.
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
Networking! Thanks to online virtual platforms, there are many opportunities to network and make meaningful connections within the AM industry. Women in 3D Printing is a wonderful resource and offers regular online networking events.
Many AM companies offer free webinars to learn more about different areas of 3D printing. Take advantage of these online resources to network and learn!
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
The AM industry can encourage more girls and women to learn about career opportunities in AM by supporting STEM workforce development initiatives and partnering with local schools, colleges and universities, career and technical education institutes, nonprofits, economic development organizations, industry groups and other resources.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
The AMGTA is working with a major research university in the United States to commission a true life cycle analysis of an additively manufactured aerospace component as compared to an identical cast component.
This groundbreaking research, which we expect to be completed in time for Formnext 2022, will be one of the first real Life Cycle Assessments that has ever been conducted directly comparing an additive part to a cast part. We are very excited to publish and share the case study results with our member companies and other key stakeholders.
Favorite moment in your day job?
Connecting virtually with AM industry leaders who are working to improve sustainability in AM.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview?
Susan MacKay, Ph.D., Senior R&D Program Manager II, Advanced Structures and Composites Center, University of Maine
Emily DeSimone, Marketing Director, Americas, SLM Solutions