Reimagining Rosie The Riveter

How our scientists contributed to increasing diversity in the field of 3D printing … and helped create a work of art.


July 9, 2018

When given the opportunity to combine a feminist icon, diversity and 3D printing, Boston-based Vertex employee Rebecca Swett said, “We can do it!”

Vertex's 3D-printed submission

The challenge was first brought to Vertex when Eric Britton, a Sr. Scientific Associate on our Drug Metabolism & Pharmacokinetics team, suggested that we contribute to We The Builders’ latest project: a giant statue of Rosie the Riveter. The crowd-sourced and 3D-printed sculpture, originally designed by Baltimore-based artist and maker Jen Schachter, is made up of more than 2,600 pieces.

Women and non-binary makers (with access to a 3D printer) were encouraged to contribute pieces in a variety of skin tones. The idea was to re-imagine “Rosie” as an icon that not only embodies strength and feminism, but is representative of all women – not just those who look like the original image.

Rebecca, a Research Scientist on our Modeling and Informatics team, helped bring Rosie to life by printing a piece of the sculpture in the VIPER (Vertex Integrated Prototype Enabling Resource) Lab, an in-house rapid prototyping lab that was created through Vertex’s employee innovation tournament called VOICE. The VIPER Lab is used by Eric, Rebecca and other prototyping enthusiasts, and is one way that Vertex scientists are speeding up research by bringing more custom capabilities in-house.

“I do a lot of virtual 3D modeling during my day job, so I’m always happy to help any way I can in the prototyping lab,” said Rebecca. “Out of the many makerspaces I’ve been part of in the past, I can truly say that the VIPER Lab is the most universally welcoming - so when Eric suggested we print out a piece, I thought it would be a great way for us to show that Vertex really does value diversity. Eric kindly donated the polymer for the print, and I can’t wait to try and spot our piece in the final statue.”

The final sculpture was showcased at the NOMCON, a conference hosted by Nation of Makers in Santa Fe that brought together maker, hacker, technology and crafts leaders. Check it out below:

Image Source: Twitter

Image Source: Twitter