Steph has a background in biofabrication and 3D printing for medical grade implants. She is currently the Patron of the Brisbane Hackerspace and the Community Engagement Coordinator at USQ, looking after the Library Makerspace. She also teaches 3D printing, 3D modelling, and Arduino classes. She has designed 3D printables for medical, fashion and furniture. She’s also hosted talks and workshops for the Wonder of Science Program, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, Brisbane Workshop, Woodford Folk Festival, The Planting Festival and much more. Steph is part of the 2017 Digital Champions Program, has been featured by Peppermint Magazine, was a finalist in the Women in STEM awards and was selected for the Startup Catalyst Youth Mission to Silicon Valley. We are thrilled to feature her as today’s Women in 3D Printing guest!
Steph, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
My background is in biofabrication. When I was studying Biomedicine, I loved the idea of getting into medical engineering and 3D Printing. While I was living on college, I built my own Reprap Prusa Mendel, and was able to approach a professor in this area with some parts I’d made, on a machine I’d built. I was put on the research team looking at 3D printable, biodegradable breast scaffolds for implantation. I also worked on other projects around developing ‘smart materials’ which were able to give a material different properties, such as auxetics and triply periodic minimal surface structures.
What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?
My first experience was putting together my own Reprap machine. I love the idea of the open source movement, and building your own machine grounds your understanding of the process much more. It was a rough start without anyone to learn from, but with my current role, I can give back this knowledge to many others starting on the same journey.
Could you explain furthermore what Piper3D is?
www.piper3dp.com is my blogging website, where I give updates on 3D printing projects, .stl files for download and purchase.
How about the Brisbane Hackerspace?
The Brisbane Hackerspace is a community workshop, open 24 hours a day, providing maker equipment from 3D printing to laser cutting, electronics, woodworking, metalworking, welding, and blacksmithing. I was President at HSBNE for two years and love to see the great projects that this space makes possible.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
My greatest achievement is designing 3D printable furniture using modular, ‘assembly required’, multi-material design. I’m very proud of how the stool design came out, it’s quite strong. See more info on the design here.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career to share with us?
I once made a 3D printed jacket to wear to an interview. In hindsight, not the easiest concept to execute in a short space of time. See the build process and finished product here.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman in 3D Printing?
Yes, some people have trouble accepting I have instructor level skill and this is part of my career, often I feel like I have to go to extra lengths to prove myself. As a positive consequence, I aim to go above and beyond with my projects to act as a good role model for others.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
I’ll be teaching my first 10-week 3D printing course in 2019, where participants receive a 3D printer to keep and learn advanced skillsets in prototyping. I’m really excited to do a deep dive with this tech and teach skills that often take longer to learn. Keep an eye on my website, PIPER3DP.com for more information.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
The make anything Youtube Channel consistently impresses me with the level of innovation in DIY printing. Really shows how much potential there is through creativity.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
Definitely the new Black Belt 3D printer, a machine with a conveyor belt as a platform. Make large runs of small items or something really long. Very exciting times!
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
You don’t have to be a scientist, an engineer, or even have a lot of money to buy a decent machine now. All you need is a 3D printer, some filament and a computer with an internet connection and you can start innovating and making things that can improve or disrupt how things are done. It’s power to make a difference to more people than ever before.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
3D Printing is more accessible than it’s ever been in terms of cost and ease of use, which is great for more people getting involved in prototyping new things. However, the environmental considerations of 3D printing at the hobbyist level hasn’t quite caught up with the pace of the technology. I’d like to see local services to recycle waste 3D printer plastic and greater uptake of ‘home recycling’ tech like the Protocyler, Filastruder and the Precious Plastic Movement.
New or potential owners of 3D printing need to keep in mind that it’s a personal responsibility to make sure you use your machine in an environmentally conscious way. Printing isn’t just about making knick-knacks. Print things that extend the life of things that you might otherwise throw away. Print utilitarian, useful things that look great.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Young girls need good role models, I try to get out in the community showing off projects as often as I can. Traditionally feminine’ pursuit projects can also be great to inspire other women, especially in the fashion space. There’s a great amount of innovation that’s yet to be done in this space around sandwiching fabric with 3D prints to make creative shapes, flexible hinges and more.
Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)? Rhino 3D
Favorite moment in your day? Definitely working with someone with an idea on tricky 3D modeling challenge. Bring me something tougher, Phil!
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? I’d love an SLA 3D printer, not sure if I’m ready for the resin smell though!