Interview: Oscar Hedin

Mr. Oscar Hedin works as a Senior Applications Engineer for Oerlikon AM and is responsible for questions regarding design, application & process development and regulatory approval of medical implants manufactured with 3D printing. Mr. Hedin spent the last 10 years based in US and Europe, working with American and European orthopedic implant manufacturers and has ample experience of how to use AM for volume production of medical implants. Mr. Hedin has a background in Engineering Physics where he holds an MSc. Mr. Hedin will be a speaker at the #3DHEALS2018 conference on April 20-21st, 2018.
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.
Oscar: ‘Two Italian companies have been a major source of inspiration for me. More than a decade ago, amidst a global financial crisis, the Italian orthopedic companies Adler Ortho and Lima took a leap of faith by venturing into 3D printing and making it a critical part of their supply chain. Ten years later, more than 60’000 hip cups 3D printed by these companies have been implanted – and the patients treated with the very first 3D printed implants are still going strong!’
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Oscar: ‘To witness the life-changing impact 3D printing can have on patients and their families – and to have the opportunity to be part of this journey – is what motivates me the most. I recently heard a story on the national public radio about how 3D technology had helped surgeons separate and save the lives of conjoined twins, an extremely rare and complicated procedure. Similar success stories are shared with increasing frequency and really a testament to how important it is to continue to evolve these technologies.’
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)?
Oscar: ‘I’d like to point out three key drivers for the adoption of 3D printing in Medical:

  1. Digitized manufacturing
  2. Building a reliable supplier base
  3. Materials and applications designed for AM

–  For AM to become a widespread production technology, the process chain needs to become more digitized. This means more automation & integration and less manual intervention. Many of the process steps involved in AM – such as powder handling, post-processing of parts, etc. –  still rely on manual labor, leading to operator dependency, processes which are difficult to monitor and control, and potentially inconsistent part quality.
–  Logistical oversight for component manufacturing is difficult with the number of supply chain waypoints involved in 3D printing.  Companies like Oerlikon are paving the way to shorter and more reliable supply chains by offering integrated services, from prototyping to production.
–  Most of the materials and applications produced with 3D printing today have been designed for traditional manufacturing processes. The thought process of most engineers involved in new product development projects is still wrapped around the conventional way of manufacturing. To realize the full potential of 3D printing, we need to start designing applications and materials around AM and not the other way around. This will require shifting the focus from “How can I make 3D printing work for my existing products?” to “How can I leverage the true capabilities of 3D printing to deliver more customer value?”. The AM community plays an important role when it comes to training customers and disseminating critical know-how to the industry.’
Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?
Oscar: ‘I heard a speaker at a recent conference say something along the lines: “Additive (Manufacturing) laughs at complexity!” I think that captures the essence of AM and 3D printing in a very concise way.’
Jenny: Any advice for the healthcare 3D printing industry? 

  • Building up a reliable supplier base
  • Complexity is free
  • Train the customer
  • Remeber it’s not plug-and-play
  • Optimizing the process chain
  • Need to digitalize manufacturing
  • Speed up design loops
  • Reduce inventory
  • Localize suppliers closer to hospitals to reduce inventory, be part of pre-op planning