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Interview with Michaella Janse Van Vuuren

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Women are playing a significant and important role in 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing. This is especially important in inspiring many young girls and women to harness and utilize the technology to sustain their livelihoods and explore the fruits of their creative minds. One woman who has consistently been producing very inspiring 3D printed work is Dr. Michaella Janse Van Vuuren.

Michaella Janse Van Vuuren

Dr. Michaella Janse Van Vuuren has excelled in multiple disciplines from her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town in Computer vision and post-doctorate in medical implant design at the Central University of Technology to be an internationally renowned 3D print designer, artist and an innovator in education.

She has been involved in 3D printing since 2006 when completed a Post-doctorate in Custom Medical Implant design at the CUT. In 2008 she founded Nomili innovative interdisciplinary research, consulting and 3D printed product development studio. Her Chrysanthemum centerpiece was voted the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at Design Indaba 2009. In 2012 she was the VISI emerging designer of the year and in 2014 she was named one of the City Press 100 world-class South Africans. In 2017 she was honored internationally as one of the 40 Most Influential Women in 3D printing by All3DP magazine.

Chrysanthemum centrepiece

The Horse Marionette, a fine art piece, was on exhibition for two years in the London Science museum and is now part of the Museum’s permanent collection. Her ground-breaking 3D Printed Garden of Eden fashion collection debuted on the 3D Print show catwalk in New York in 2014. Her work has been exhibited in some of the world’s most prestigious Design Fairs such as Design Days Dubai, Design Miami/Basel and Collective.

Horse Marionette

Michaella’s work has received wide-reaching media exposure with feature articles on CNN, c-net, BBC, 3D Printing Industry, Additive Fashion and locally in Popular Mechanics, Creative Feel, Finweek, M&G, Sunday Times and Fair Lady to name a few.  International interviews on CNBC, and locally on 702, SABC Morning live, Kyknet and Expresso. She has also been a writer for Archi-Expo. She was invited speaker at the AM and 3DP Conference at the University of Nottingham, 3D Print-show in New York and London and iCAT in Slovenia. Locally she presented at TEDxJohannesburg, RAPDASA, Totally concrete and Samsung Inspire.

Extreme Serpent shoe by Michaella

Michaella founded the Agents of the 3D revolution in 2013; through exhibitions and seminars, the public was given access and education in cutting edge technology. She also exhibited the Agents of the 3D Revolution at the University of Johannesburg FADA gallery in 2013 and GUILD, the flagship project of the World Design Capital 2014. The Agents showcased 3D printed work of international stars such as Joshua Harker and Nervous System, Lionel T. Dean, Thomas Mann and Prof. Keith Brown with global galleries V&A Museum (UK) Design Network Africa (Africa), Southern Guild (South Africa), R20th Gallery (New York), Rossana Orlandi (Italy).

Createneering is her most recent project. She is bringing her wealth of knowledge in the arts, design, and engineering to education, developing courses that introduce technology learning playfully through the arts. Encouraging students to become Createneers, individuals that use technology as tools to imagine and build a flourishing future for everyone.


You are a Director at Createneering and also Founder of Nomili. Can you tell us more about these two organizations and their role in 3D printing and additive manufacturing?

My work is transdisciplinary, I merge knowledge and expertise from different disciplines to inspire and inform my work as a researcher, artist, engineer, educator, and consultant.

Nomili is focused on cutting edge technology research and creating end products and artwork using additive manufacturing and other 4ir technologies. My interest lies in mastering, and pushing the limits of a particular cutting-edge technology and at the same time transcend the object into a work of art. The resulting work summarizes a lengthy learning process, often years of research that accumulate in a single image or series of objects.

Createneering is a vehicle for knowledge transfer, with a focus on 4iR, creativity, and innovation in education, particularly where there is a lack of resources.

Createneering is her most recent project. She is bringing her wealth of knowledge in the arts, design, and engineering to education, developing courses that introduce technology learning playfully through the arts. Encouraging students to become Createneers, individuals that use technology as tools to imagine and create a flourishing future for everyone.

Stained Glass Corset

As a member of Women in 3D printing, how has the organization helped women in advancing and promoting 3D printing?

Women in 3D printing have done a great service to help raise awareness of women in this field. It is a pleasure to follow the work of the amazing woman in the industry who break down stereotypes about who uses the technology and what it can be used for.

What is your view on 3D printing and African development?

3D printing makes it possible to send a file to be manufactured in any part of the world where a suitable printer is located. Teams can collaborate from different countries, even very remote regions, enabling a more diverse group of people to contribute their unique perspective and expertise to the industry. I am excited by the solutions and designs coming from this continent and look forward to seeing what will be created when more of the 4ir technologies merge.

The challenge for Africa development is individual access to technological infrastructure and access to a local or international market that needs these skills or products. Local markets tend to still be in its infancy and you need to be part of an international network. People are more likely to connect with someone they have personally met, or have been vetted by someone they know. Conference and exhibition invitations and other network and business opportunities are very costly, especially with exchange rates and travel distances that are not in Africans’ favor.

I hope that future African Digital design and manufacturing centers can provide this access and be places where unique sought after perspective and expertise is nurtured.

Fish in Coral bracelet

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