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.
Jenny Chen is the mind behind 3DHeals. One of the goals of 3DHeals is to educate the community about applications and innovations using 3D Printing in the healthcare industry.
Nora Toure: Jenny, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?
Jenny Chen: I am a radiologist, and it is very natural for radiologists to be very interested in 3D printing because we interact with thousands of medical images either in 2D or 3D as part of our daily practice. Being able to transform digital images into a physical three-dimensional object is very fascinating, especially since it can convey messages that no words can describe to our clinical colleagues and our patients.
Nora Toure: Do you remember your first 3D printed design?
Jenny Chen: Yes, my first experience with 3D printing was about a year ago, when I tried to use a FDM (type A printer) printer to print out a model of a knee. I used an online cloud based DICOM to STL converter (Vizua3D.com) and then Meshmixer to generate the print file. The result was less than desirable but I learned a lot about what are needed to optimize a 3D printed anatomic structure, from the choice of printer/material to the type of file and support structures.
Nora Toure: You are the founder of 3DHeals. Could you explain furthermore what 3DHeals is and the offer behind it?
Jenny Chen: The activity of 3DHEALS is very simple: we create conferences locally and globally focusing on healthcare 3D printing topics, which range from design, application, to legal and regulatory concerns. Our past conferences range from topics focusing on dental industry, medical industry, to prosthetics, and legal industry. We are hoping to curate a conference focusing on bioprinting/regenerative medicine soon. On April 20th, 2017, we are going to have our first global conference focusing on these topics at UCSF Mission Bay campus.
Our ultimate goal is to curate a great community of people with diverse background who are interested in healthcare 3D printing. We believe that people, and not technology, are the driving force behind technological revolution.
In fact, people are the only reason I am continuing my work with 3DHEALS. The members of this community are open, creative, friendly, and collaborative. I am very energized when I work with them.
While I am not too conscious about the gender gap, it is obvious that we have more male attendees than female and I know it is there. But we do have quite a few female leaders in the field of healthcare 3D printing, from Dr. Matsumoto from the Mayo Clinics to Katie Weimer at 3D System (previously Medical Modeling), as well as Anne Garcia who founded Opheart.org.
Nora Toure: Do you have any (fun or not) story about the company to share with us?
Jenny Chen: Every single 3DHEALS conference has a good story behind it. These conferences are the results of serendipitous encounters and rewarding relationships. I feel lucky being able to connect with many talented and passionate individuals in this community.
Nora Toure: As a woman entrepreneur, what was/ is your biggest challenge? Any challenge specific to the 3D printing industry?
Jenny Chen: My biggest challenge is that although I enjoy what I do with 3DHEALS, there is no script on what is the right next step to take. Like many other engineering fields, 3D printing industry is still male dominant partly because of history.
Nora Toure: What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
Jenny Chen: For healthcare 3D printing, the potential of 3D printing is enormous. We have poster-child company like Align Technology Inc, but many companies are still in early stage, working hard to find the right strategy to survive. Of course we would like to see faster and cheaper printers, or more selection of 3D printing materials, but I feel the fundamental challenges of the industry is to find the right business strategies and goals to succeed, like any other industry.
Nora Toure: In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Jenny Chen: The best encouragement comes from actions, by demonstrating resilience to failure and perseverance to pursue one’s ideals, by being mindful of fostering interests and courage in the next generation of women.
If you are interested in learning more about Jenny and 3DHeals, I invite you to check her company’s website!
And don’t forget to join the Women in 3D Printing group on LinkedIn and Facebook. You can also show your support by donating – Your support will help maintaining the activities of this blog and building more events for the community.
Thank you for reading and for sharing!