Women in Engineering: Q&A with Additive Manufacturing specialist Galina Ermakova

The Additive Manufacturing crew of GKN Powder Metallurgy is a diverse and passionate team specializing in 3D printing. We spoke to Galina Ermakova, one of our Additive Manufacturing female engineers. 

Galina is responsible for technical project support and customer advice on all aspects of metal 3D printing. Whenever a potential customer considers GKN Powder Metallurgy as a supplier, there is a good chance that they will get in touch with Galina.

Galina is a natural conversationalist and enjoys profound discussions around 3D printing / © Paul Knecht

How exactly did you get in touch with 3D printing? Do you remember when you saw your first 3D printer?

When I worked at the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology in Aachen as a student research assistant, I was involved in the design of optical systems. I remember once when I was measuring the laser beam of a 3D printer, I could see how the process was running on the machine next door. At that moment I thought: "Laser measurement is totally boring - I need to print!" Immediately afterwards, I switched departments.

What advice would you give to other women in engineering who are just starting out in the 3D printing industry?

Be brave and do your thing! Focus on your task, not your gender - or someone else's gender - we are all engineers. Simply enjoy your job.

From your experience: Which top 3 trends can be expected in 3D printing in the next 5 years?

I think the trends are:

1. Personalization – First there will be the possibility to print your personal component in a mass production, for a reasonable price. But the challenge is, how can this diversity of components be represented in the manufacturing systems?

2. Digitalization - Digitalization goes in line with 3D printing. How can I find out when a certain component is printed? Can I see this live? The more you can perceive visually, the better. I would love to sit at home and look at my phone and say: "Oh great, my parts are running. Perfect." This is partly state-of-the-art today.

3. Series Production - the first AM series has been launched. The BMW Roadster is a great example for that. I think it should also the medium-term goal of the whole industry to think series in 3D printing. We must prove that with 3D printing, we are very well able to supply serial components and guarantee quality.

And what risks do you see for the AM industry?

Deliver what you promise: in an upcoming technology, this is crucial to have success and get credibility. The potential is huge but you have to choose your partners and suppliers very carefully.
Many companies appear out of nowhere, who unfortunately do not always deliver the performance they promise.

What is your favorite source to get the latest information about Additive Manufacturing?

I read the news section of the German online magazine „3D-grenzenlos“ every day. They care about many different topics - from plastic printers for home use to news from the medical or metal industry. This simply gives me a good 360 degree view of what is happening in the industry. There is also the source Metal AM you can use for AM news in English language - and many, many more.

Which tool do you not want to be without in your daily work?

The GKN Dashboard! Our key figures are displayed on a beautiful screen in our office. We practically get to experience live how well our production is running, what new orders are coming in and much more. This has a very fascinating effect on the dynamics in our team. If a larger order comes in, our mood increases immediately.

Chances are always good to meet Galina at an expert conference on Additive Manufacturing  / © Paul Knecht

What makes you unique?

When people see me for the first time, many think that I look cute - because I am not tall. And they are surprised by my enthusiasm, my attitude to work and my passion for Additive Manufacturing. I'm small, but tough - that's what makes me special.

What do you like to spend your free time doing?

I like puzzles. I find this very beneficial for the brain and it also helps me in every day life, because life is nothing more than a huge puzzle. I love the challenge!

What makes Additive Manufacturing within GKN Powder Metallurgy special for you?

I believe we are a highly motivated team that is very visionary and is already delivering today's prototypes with a clear vision of tomorrow's series.