3D printing was once only seen as a technology reserved only for professionals. It was difficult and expensive to obtain a system before desktop 3D printers began proliferating at the start of the last decade. However, today, 3D printing is booming, and while we know that it is being used by nearly every major manufacturer in the world at some level, it is also extremely popular on TikTok.
Though this may be the case, you might not know it just from seeing articles on LinkedIn. Nevertheless, these users may be making just as much of an impact in the 3D printing industry, with TikTok as their platform of choice.
As a 3D printing TikToker myself, I had the pleasure of interviewing my colleagues Sarah Hunt, Melissa Kaye, Kerrika Marshall, Breanna Wright, Britt, and Lewis Derogene. In my conversations with them outlined in this series, I was able to learn about their processes, their outcomes, and how we can attract more women to the world of 3D printing. Check out parts one and two in this series.
Kerrika Marshall (she/her) goes by @Awkwdblkgirl on TikTok, where she has over 2,000 followers. Marshall got into 3D printing via impulse buy, meant as a tool to grow her work creating silicone molds for resin and concrete artists.
“I wanted to make clay cutters to expand my business. I looked up 3D printers on Amazon and bought an Ender 3. I just started printing in February 2022, and I’m already four printers in,” Marshall told us.
Kerrika focuses on articulated prints, which she has said are the most profitable, but she’s also teaching herself CAD using Nomad Sculpt, the same tool @PhenomenaLewis relies on.
@awkwdblkgrl This audio is true but 🤷🏾♀️ we here now😂😂😂 #printtok3d #tiktokdragon💖 #cinderwing3d #articulateddragon #PassTheBIC ♬ Like bruh print a gun or something. not this crap – Slater
Breanna Wright (she/her), aka @RGBrea on TikTok, became acquainted with 3D printing at 19 years old, but it wasn’t until a hip surgery seven years later that it would take over her life. While home in recovery and her husband called away regularly by the U.S. Army, Wright found herself browsing 3D printing videos online. At first, she doubted if she was smart enough to take up the technology.
“I remember feeling love for it and a ping of heartbreak because, as amazing as I thought it was, it felt out of reach. I doubted if I was smart enough and was buried in medical bills at the time. It was a hard season, but my injuries challenged me to tap back into my creative roots and discover who I was when I wasn’t an athlete,” Wright told us.
But seeing others on TikTok inspired her to purchase her own machine. Beginning with Star Wars-related prints, Wright fell in love with the technology and soon, started scaling up her models up to be full-scale replicas. Her followers are now endlessly entertained by her TikTok channel, where she not only showcases her life-sized droids, but the process behind making them.
@rgbrea #question from @rgbrea the many colors of my droid building workflow. #starwars #droids #3dprinted #maker #clonewars #3dprinting ♬ Paris – 斌杨Remix
“Coming from a traditional background, I have a childlike joy when I can turn a 2D artistic creation into a 3D print using 3D software like Blender,” Wright said. “For me, 3D printing has become a new way to share stories, save memories, and an outlet for creative expression. Especially with the full-sized droids, there is a sense of wonder when you share a space with a creation, printed from these little machines, that you grew up seeing on the TV and is now towering above you in your physical space. It can definitely make some of your favorite works of fiction feel immersive on a whole new level!”
Stay tuned for the last article in this series, where our interview subjects tell us how they think the 3D printing industry can attract more female talent.
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