Exploring the scope of 3D Printing in Healthcare
What has your journey been like? What did you want to become when you were young?
I grew up in the UK in the beautiful city of Chester, famous for its rich heritage and architecture. I had a relatively humble upbringing with my mother and my younger brother. At 11 years of age, I got very lucky and was awarded a scholarship in one of the finest private schools. The upbringing and the school life molded my thinking and that made me always want something more, strive for something extra. As a child, I always flirted with the idea of becoming a lawyer or a solicitor of some kind. A lot of my friends’ parents also motivated me to be successful. So I guess, being successful was my major goal as a child.
From wanting to become a lawyer, to doing something in science and innovation technology, how did you bridge the gap?
After completing my university education, I tried my hands at law but realised I wasn’t meant for it. Later when I was studying for my MBA while consulting in the technology sector, primarily advising oil and gas companies on market entry strategies and product strategies, I got interested in working with technology. I waited for 6 months after completing my MBA and figured that I was done with the job. That is when I decided to throw myself into the business world and take a leap of faith.
How did you get into 3D printing?
The reason it happened was that during the time I was pursuing my MBA, 3D printing was all the rage and it had a lot going on. It was the top technology in Dubai at that time and the vision of his highness about 3D printing was also announced in 2016. So all these factors resulted in my association with 3D printing and my business.
3D printing for healthcare is a new concept, but you have also created some incredible models that assist in surgery and healthcare like invisible braces. How do these creations assist doctors and what was the motive behind creating such things?
Each person is different and each patient is different but healthcare treats everyone the same. Everyone is offered from a basic set of sizes for various implants and that may not be a perfect fit. So there was always a requirement for this kind of customization but no real technology. 3D printing is simply a piece of production equipment, just a way of making things. The uniqueness of it is that it allows mass customization without any additional cost. This is the reason it works very well in the medical environment.
So we identified three types of products in the medical sphere. The first is models of body parts called anatomical models. These models assist doctors in better explaining the conditions to their patients with the help of visual aids and avoid stress and panic. These models also allow surgeons to practice their surgeries ahead of time and be more successful. Second is guides as these guides control the various types of equipment in surgery in a better way to have safer procedures and better results. The third is devices that are implants or like the teeth aligners. Devices interact with the patients and help them get better.
What are the challenges you face while promoting your brand and products and services?
When you launch a new brand, you either have competition or you have the task of educating. With our concepts, we needed to do a lot of educating. What we found with our concepts is that the thought leaders in our target areas are receptive. So we try and work with these thought leaders to establish the concepts in the market and spread the knowledge with their help.
There is a threat that technology will replace humans as we can see with so many innovations in today’s world. How far do you think this prediction is true and what are your thoughts?
With the speed, depth, and extent of change, very few people understand and appreciate the full picture with the innovations happening in the field of technology. We use very limited artificial intelligence in our field but now it is being used more to speed up the processes. What it means is that these technologies are ultimately squeezing people. As a business, we are pro-technology but at the same time, it does concern me when I see just how much change is being affected.
You have been awarded for your work and you have worked with the DHA as well. Tell us more about it.
We supported DHA on a very complex case in which the patient had a large cancer of the jaw. The doctor had to remove the entire jaw and put a plate in place. However, the doctor was not able to reconnect the teeth. So we did the titanium implant in 3D printing which allowed the buttons to connect to the teeth.
You do not have any healthcare background or very specialized knowledge that is needed to work in healthcare. What did you do to be able to imagine and create such medical innovations?
In our job, it is not required to be medical experts because that is the doctor’s job. Our job is between the doctor and the technology. With 3D printing, the opportunities are unlimited but it is costly. So for a lot of medical professionals, it is not possible to get all the benefits of 3D printing. This is what we are trying to solve and make the technology available to everyday doctors. We have a huge team of medical experts and engineers to make this possible.
What are you working these days and what can we expect to see from Sinterex by 2020?
It is always overwhelming because we are trying to expand our product portfolio. At the moment, I am very interested in the concept of patient experience and how we can support medical professionals to communicate more effectively with patients and what can be the commercial implications of the same. The interesting thing is knowing what is the level of understanding and confidence patients have, how are things communicated to them, and how does that impact their decision. So we are looking at 3D printed models with hyper-reality to make them more realistic and maybe introducing virtual reality into it so that the patient can see what is going to happen to them in the procedure. Dubai is a great place for 3D printing because of the great stability, amazing business conditions, speedy logistics, and the ease with which we can get into the neighboring countries. So Dubai seems like a great fit for Sinterex.