Interview: Dr. Shweta Agarwala, Bioprinting

Although bioprinting has attracted enough attention from researchers and industries, finding ink with suitable physiochemical composition and properties is a hindrance. The absence of structural integrity within the bio-printed sample is another common problem that I encounter.

Shweta Agarwala is a researcher with Singapore Centre for 3D printing at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. She holds a Ph.D. in Electronics Engineering from National University of Singapore, Singapore. Her research is aimed at developing materials and devices for bioelectronic in healthcare applications, and printed electronics for wearables, sensors and smart packaging. The roadmap employs 3D printing route of an aerosol jet, inkjet, and bio-printing to fabricate nano-electronic and bioelectronic devices. Her research is multidisciplinary in nature and provides a useful link between electronics, material science, manufacturing, and biotechnology, thus trying to solve real-life problems.

Dr. Shweta Agarwala will be speaking at our Singapore event!

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Shweta: My rendezvous with 3D printing is quite new. Although I had heard about the technology, I witnessed the real action when I first joined Singapore center for 3D Printing in 2015. Building a prototype of your choice in a few hours amazed me. But what really caught my attention was how bioprinting was enabling live tissue structures. Even as a novice, I could envision the potential of this technology especially in healthcare.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey/company/career/research in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Shweta: Awed by 3D bioprinting, I wanted to dig my hands to develop meaningful solutions. Being an electronics engineer by training it took me a while to understand the field. My creative juices started to flow when I realized how I can combine the power of electronics and bioprinting for applications like bioelectronics. My efforts may be a drop in the ocean, but the fact that they may help in furthering the healthcare and biomedical sector is a driving force for me.  
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.
Shweta: There are so many people to thank to during my journey in 3D printing. I would especially like to mention Prof. Yeong Wai Yee, who introduced me to the world of 3D printing and has been a patient guide. Her enthusiasm to create viable solutions to real problems is infectious.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Shweta: Honestly, there is so much motivation all around. I constantly interact with researchers, academicians, entrepreneurs and industry experts who are passionate about 3D printing and doing their bit to carve a niche. Each meeting leaves me exhilarated and motivated.
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Shweta: Although bioprinting has attracted enough attention from researchers and industries, finding ink with suitable physiochemical composition and properties is a hindrance. The absence of structural integrity within the bio-printed sample is another common problem that I encounter.
Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Shweta: Availability of limited materials and lack of standardization are the main concerns plaguing the adoption of 3D printing. More efforts should be poured in to develop a wide range of materials with specific functionalities and steps taken to formulate consistent and harmonized industry-wide standards. I also believe that cross subject and multidisciplinary approach should be applied to combine biology with other fields to enable advancement.
Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?  

    • More innovation in healthcare like organ printing and cure for diseases like cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer
    • No war and peace in the world
  • Ways to restore earth back to its natural healthy state

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Shweta: Never stop learning and stay hungry. Find what drives you, seek passion and then innovation.
Most people will tell you don’t be an underdog. My advice: Its ok to start as an underdog, just don’t be one for too long.
Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community (i.e. healthcare 3D printing and bio-fabrication), what message would that be?
Shweta: Let’s print the world good health. Yes, it’s possible!
Jenny: What were/was the best/worst investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Shweta: I feel that material innovation provides the necessary backbone to further any field. Investing time and energy in building a new library of materials compatible with bioprinters and healthcare needs is essential.
Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?
Shweta: I am an electronics engineer by training and nanotechnology/ nanoelectronics has been my area of research. When the opportunity came to step into the world of 3D printing, I was very apprehensive. It was a huge jump from the nano-world to building mm/cm size objects. I was not aware of the potential of 3D printing at that time. But I am glad that I took the step.
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Shweta: I am an avid reader and love to lose myself in a book. If not engrossed in a book you will find me swaying to the music and spending time with family and friends.
Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?
Shweta: Although a cliché  “Where there is a will, there is always a way” is a power statement for me. I first heard the saying from my grandfather, who was a retired English language teacher. Time and again he kept reminding me that no matter how big a problem, a strong determination can help surmount all. The saying has stayed with me since helping me go past my blinding fears.  
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)
Shweta: 3DHEALS to me signifies the power of 3D printing to improve healthcare and to heal.


  • Wow !! Super encouraging!! Long way to go !! God bless !!