This article originates from Women In 3D Printing and is part of our effort to support the use of 3D printing technology by women. The article is re-published with permission.
Nora Toure: Mariel, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing?
Mariel Diaz Castro: I am a Maker, an entrepreneur, a geek, a DIY and OpenSource lover.
My background is quite technical but I have been always looking for mixing technical skills with creativity and out of the box thinking.
I was born in Colombia, I studied Industrial Engineering in Bogotá and obtained a scholarship in the last year of my bachelor degree, to finish my career in Oviedo University in Gijón, Spain. I was selected as one of the first 13 students that Distrital University sent abroad. I have always been an entrepreneur. At the University I was an AIESEC member, an international organization where I worked for developing my leadership potential and the potential of other students through personal development and global experiences, I was immersed in a multicultural and multidisciplinary leadership environment. Once I finished Industrial Engineering I decided to stay in Spain studying a new Engineering Bachelor degree: Mechanical Engineering. I fell in love of the easy access to technology I had in Spain during my Erasmus experience.
Living, studying and working in another country far from family and childhood friends is really hard when you are 20 years old, but I was pursuing my dream of studying and having job experiences abroad (by the way I haven´t seen my family and friends since then, 6 years and counting).
I was really fortunate to be involved in the Maker Movement early in my life, I was exposed to 3D Printing during my career at Oviedo University. I found this technology by coincidence when I was preparing the final project for a subject. I rapidly comprehended the incredible potential of this technology nowadays and in the near future, I was decided to be the creator one of those machines and then bring bits to atoms.
Nora Toure: What was your first experience with 3D Printing?
Mariel Diaz Castro: My first experience with 3D printing was in Spain, I was studying the second year of mechanical engineering, I met a friend (nowadays my husband) who was living in China and when he came back to Spain for vacations, he brought a 3D Printer, a Thing-O-Matic by Makerbot. I was amazed by this totally new technology; it was one of the first desktop 3D printers in Asturias. I didn´t fully understood the process of the machine, so I started researching about the process, the machine, etc., that was how I met the Maker Movement and the RepRap Project.
I needed to prepared the final project for the subject graphic expression of engineering, I had to do reverse engineering of a product. I was already creating things with the 3D Printer, but this project was the first one of my own creation that I 3D Printed. When I arrived to class with the printed object, everyone was amazed.
I started creating my own 3D printers just reading and researching a lot about mechanics, electronics and software. There was very little information in those years about Open Source Printers. So I spent a lot of hours (after University and work) learning and practicing.
Nora Toure: You are now the founder of TRIDITIVE. Could you explain us what TRIDITIVE is about?
Mariel Diaz Castro: We are Makers and we love 3D printing is our philosophy. TRIDITIVE was founded as a Maker company we started designing our own 3D Printers and using it to teach and to learn everything about 3D Printing that was 4 years ago. Nowadays, we offer engineering services, product design, and rapid prototyping in our Tridilab (Additive Manufacturing Center).
We have realized that education is crucial for this technology, because people need to know this technology exist and they can use it, that’s the reason why we teach 3D Printing to kids (1700 kids from different schools all over the region, only this year), we have focused on University students with the Master degree in 3D Printing. We are working on extending the use of 3D printing and teaching to the people how easy and useful is, also through encouraging Maker Movement. We develop projects with professional and companies who are looking to innovate using this technology. Our Tridilab is the workshop where magic happens and creativity comes to life.
Nora Toure: How did you come with this idea in the first place?
Mariel Diaz Castro: I am a geek and I am an entrepreneur, that is the main reason.
Since I started University I wanted to create things that no one did before, and also I have always loved everything I do, for this reason I wanted to work on something that supposed a challenge to me. When I met 3D Printing I realized that I could do anything I want to. I wanted to spread this technology and my passion for 3D Printing. But also I was very lucky to meet a teacher from University who is a natural born entrepreneur, He encourages students to create their own businesses or leadership experiences (Thank you, Ramón Rubio).
Nora Toure: I understand that you worked on creating a Master degree in 3D Printing in Spain [‘Expert in Creative 3D Printing’]. What challenges did you face to introduce this new degree?
Mariel Diaz Castro: Fortunately, Oviedo University was very open to implement this new Master degree, because they know the future Industry needs it, and there is a lack of educational offers related to new technologies nowadays. Now talking about students, it is really difficult to introduce a new degree in the University because students don´t realized yet the future applications and the enhance for their resume that this Master degree offers – besides, it is the first one in Spain.
The promoters of this Master degree (IdeasCAD research group, Raquel Gallego and me) are very proactive people, we have been working 3 years promoting the Master degree to make it a reality.
Nora Toure: What classes are taught for this degree?
Mariel Diaz Castro: Bee a Doer (The Maker name we use for the Master degree in Creative 3D Printing) is composed of 4 main cores:
MODELING: 2D and 3D design. Digital manufacturing.
3D PRINTING: assembling of 3D printers, 3D Printing technologies, Prototyping, creation of new products.
IDEA VALUE: training in Entrepreneurship, patents and business models.
PROJECT: based on the subjects and experiences during the classes, create and develop a business idea as the final project for this Master degree.
The main idea of Bee a Doer is creating Makers. We want to give to the students the tools of the Maker Movement and our experience to face the third Industrial Revolution. We want to develop their creativity and entrepreneurship through the use of new technologies.
Nora Toure: You already briefly talked about it, but do you see a lot of traction from students, and how do you attract new students to sign up for this degree?
Mariel Diaz Castro: This is the first year of Bee a Doer, we are very happy with the students, because they are from different careers (mainly engineering). They have come with a lot of new ideas, and they are eager to learn.
We are currently developing projects to transfer to society the technology they are learning as a way to make more visible the Master and attract more students for the next year. This is an example of the projects:
We designed and 3D Printed souvenirs for Wikipedia when they came to Asturias to receive Princess of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.
Nora Toure: On another topic, what do you think of the 3D printing industry today?
Mariel Diaz Castro: I think 3D Printing is developing and growing really fast, I haven´t seen before a technology that evolves so rapidly; everyday and all around the world you can see new applications for 3D printing if you are immerse in this sector.
3D printing is helping Startups to start their business, because of the flexibility on the fabrication process. I think 3D printing Industry today is a motor for creating new jobs and new business models.
Nora Toure: And how would you like to see the 3D printing industry evolve in the future?
Mariel Diaz Castro: 3D Printing has to be more accessible in the future for small companies, not only through FDM desktop printers, but also for SLS and DMLS 3D printers, so companies like Triditive can offer more options to the customers and teach more technologies to the students, even for creating new products using these technologies.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Mariel Diaz Castro: Women should not be afraid of learning 3D Printing, as it is a technology easy to understand thanks to the OpenSource knowledge on the Internet. The girls have to be trained in technology at a young age to be comfortable with technology.
Recently I participated in “Girls in ICT” an initiative to create actions to promote the access of young girls in technology organized by “Oviedo emprende”. (http://www.plandeemprendedoresoviedo.es/)
I´m almost 26, I´m a young woman in a “Men field” I feel empowered and I want to make more women to feel empowered too, being Makers and creating new things with their own hands. For me is natural to be immerse in technology and engineering, lets make girls feel this way too.
I think Women in 3D printing is a great initiative to have female models to inspire more women.
You can follow Mariel and Triditive through the company’s website.