April Newsletter: Are You A Neophiliac?

Apr 03, 2024

“ The relentless pursuit of mass will make you boring because mass means average, it means the center of the curve, it requires you to offend no one and satisfy everyone. — Seth Godin, “This is Marketing”

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Hi There,

Yes, you caught me. What is supposed to be a monthly newsletter is now converted into a quarterly report. I hope my procrastination adds value and reduces spam in your inbox and your attention.  

Are you excited about AI? ChatGTP? NVDA?   
Me, too.

Behind every hype cycle, many are lovers of the “new.” This article discusses a shared personality trait among our readers—you and me—the neophiliac. I first encountered this “new” concept in Seth Godin’s book This is Marketing. But touche, this is not that new. While this excellent book focuses on marketing strategies, it also covers a great deal of business and psychology. This is very relevant to people working in emerging technologies, 3D printing being one of them. Given that almost all the public enterprises focusing on 3D printing and bioprinting are small to micro-cap companies, we are still in the infancy of a new industrial revolution. Without any survey, the 3DHEALS audience is probably composed of almost 100% neophiliacs. This article aims not to discourage but to make one self-aware of this tendency and enable us to gain an advantage personally and professionally. 

What is a Neophiliac?

According to Wikipedia (which you should only sometimes trust), a neophiliac can adapt quickly to extreme changes, has a distaste for the mundane, desires to experience novelty, and, relatedly, desires to create novelty. A neophiliac probably approaches challenges more actively than an adapter but only rarely attains the status of a visionary. 

But who does not like new things? A term like this can be applied broadly to a large group of people demonstrating varying degrees of such tendency (spectrum), but here we focus on technological neophiliacs. For example, you might be the person who needs to try the newest restaurant in town but resists the idea of using ChatGTP for copywriting. Based on Seth Godin’s definition, neophiliacs are early adopters of technologies who don’t just want something new but are also relentlessly better. They don’t mind taking hours to calibrate the Z-axis on the first generation of 3D printers or waste spools of filaments to get one widget made. Still, they can be equally unforgiving after the initial thrills of discoveries wear off. Godin calls neophiliacs “the loyalists, the ambassadors, the culture builders, the starters to an army of endorsements and advocates” to lead to a startup’s small viable market. 

Let’s agree that people’s behavior in technology adaptation follows a normal distribution. The neophiliacs are likely at least one standard deviation away from the mean, let’s say, the 16% to the left of the mean. The other extreme, the 16% of the population at the far right of the curve, are the ones who get frustrated with Zoom and new iPhones. The middle 68% play it “safe.” 

Are You A Neophiliac of Technology?

If you regularly consume 3DHEALS contents, the answer is almost certainly “Yes”.  

Me, too. 

If you are a venture capitalist or startup founder, you are also almost certainly one. 

Neophiliacs like new and exciting things and are willing to take the risks of what-ifs. They don’t mind disrupting the status quo, even at the risk of cannibalizing their own businesses. Many of them even claim to have ADHD. They are just masking their expletives regarding technology that does not work with a claim of “short attention span.”

The DVDs were working just fine. The horses were just fine.

To Be or Not To Be

There is a trade-off to everything.

If you Google, you will see a few psychology articles discussing how things could go wrong. For example, there is an apparent correlation between novelty-seeking behaviors and substance abuse, depression/anxiety, and other negative tendencies. Frequently famous neophiliacs of our time are also the poster children of mental illness. For example, Elon Musk reportedly has bipolar disorder and was also recently revealed to use illegal drugs (contrary to Walter Isaacson’s latest biography on him).
We all have issues. 

However, the most problematic form for technological neophiliacs is using this as an escape—self-distraction from tackling tough problems. For example, while I agree that artificial intelligence will transform our world beyond my imagination, it won’t solve the nonprofitability, indebtedness, and organizational chaos companies face. This applies to new technology integration and startup acquisition. There is no magic bullet. Better management, prudent capital allocation (over financial engineering), and careful cultivation of good cultures(over constant mergers and acquisitions) take consistent hard work over a long time. Thirty years is just the beginning.  

But there are so many advantages to being a neophiliac:

  1. Comfortable” with uncomfortable changes is almost a requirement to survive in the technology sector. A pure technology company’s lifespan is much shorter than most people think. Neophiliacs don’t just adapt; they thrive at embracing changes and innovating unconventional solutions. They are the ones who “pivots”.
  2. Annihilation of “status quo.” Andy Grove’s ability to disrupt and self-disrupt the status quo enabled him to save Intel from near distinction and beat their low-cost competitors in Asia. According to Grove, “There is at least one point in the history of any company when you have to change dramatically to rise to the next level of performance. Miss that moment—and you start to decline.” Hint at a few 3D printing behemoths.
  3. Constant learning. Learning is not restricted to currently enrolled students; it is a life-long practice for neophiliacs. They habitually seek new knowledge and self-discovery and synthesize “out-of-the-box” solutions, a key advantage of being a neophiliac. 

From Neophiliac to Visionary

While 3D printing still mainly attracts necrophiliacs, the interest is moving towards the center of the bell curve. Sure, there will be the 16% of the population to the right extreme of the curve who insist on the status quo and refuse to look at 3D printing (or other new technologies) to improve their bottom lines because perhaps what they were doing worked till now. Eventually, all the hearing aid labs, all the dental labs, and all the implant companies will need to find alternatives to stay price and market-competitive. If not, they will miss out and not just “feel” missed out. 

For the world of orthopedics, as evident in a slew of FDA 510k-cleared implants in the past several years, 3D printing is no longer a concept for neophiliacs but a competitive must-have technology for the most established orthopedic device makers. This decision is not made simply due to the novelty of the technology but because of proven facts that some of the 3D-printed implants resulted in better clinical outcomes, surgeon satisfaction, and economics.  The technology is now so pervasive in the orthopedics market that some companies stopped using the term “3D printing” for sales and marketing, but other alternative terms such as “personalized medicine,” “custom-made, “precision medicine,” etc. We saw this transformation just a few weeks ago at AAOS. 

We are here today thanks to the resilience and visionary neophiliacs who strive for a better solution to healthcare and humanity, even when no one believes in them, especially not the masses.

In a parallel universe, I remember many years ago, it generated countless “wows” during some of the first exhibits at RSNA (Radiological Society of North America) when people touched for the first time and passed around these 3D printed models made by the Mayo Clinic and Walter Reed Medical Center. Yet few institutions could reach into their pocketbooks to create 3D printing labs. Thanks to a few visionary institutes and individuals who took the risk and relentlessly produced innovative services, educated and organized the masses, collected data, and demonstrated positive economics, what appeared to be an inaccessible good-to-have technology ten years ago is becoming a practical business line for many specialty and children’s hospitals worldwide.  This took decades of work, not to mention millions of dollars. This is how neophiliacs became a visionary. 

Thanks to the visionaries in our field, we are seeing significant evolution in 3D printing, sometimes much faster than I anticipated. A few years ago, when I chatted with outsiders about 3D printing in healthcare, the typical reaction was, “Oh, is this how you can make a prosthesis for amputees in Africa?”. Nowadays, the reactions include, “Oh, is this how you can print a heart so the surgeons can look at it before the surgery?” Or, “Is this how you can 3D print a transplantable organ?” A few even told me their relatives just had a 3D printed knee replacement. 

My hope with 3DHEALS is that we could be a freeform incubator for neophilliacs and future visionaries, where they can learn, connect, and co-found kick-ass companies that make meaningful impact in the world. Posts like these made my day, and I hope more are coming. 

“Persistent, consistent, and frequent stories, delivered to an aligned audience, will earn attention, trust, and action.”

— Seth Godin, “This is Marketing”


  1. Now On-Demand: 3D Bioprinting Skin Components and Hair Folicles. A recording on Zoom will be available until this Thursday, and then the 3DHEALS website will host it here.
  2. Up Next (4/4/24): MELT-Electrowriting 3D Printing for Healthcare: Join us free on Zoom
  3. Mark your calendar 4/25/24: In Silico Simulation for Medtech and Biopharma We are almost complete with our speakers.
  4. Mark your calendar 5/16/24: 3D Microfabrication 2.0  Is 2PP ruling the microfabrication, microfluidics, organ-on-a-chip space? 
  5. Check out the rest of the 2024 3DHEALS events calendar. Stay tuned for a few in-person hybrid events coming up across the country.

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News & Thoughts

  1. Materialise Expands Jaw Surgeries with End-to-End Medical 3D Printing Treatment Craniomaxillofacial reconstruction surgeries were the first to use 3D printing since the technology was born decades ago. Materialise’s recent moves in creating niche surgery products could add moat to its medical business.  
  2. Three inevitable innovations in materials for 3D printing Orthopedics Next-generation 3D printable and implantable biomaterial would be a game changer. Are you inventing one?
  3. Mayo Clinic’s 3D printing operations growing, changing medicine along the way   -This is a great summary of a true visionary in hospital 3D printing, the Mayo Clinic. 17 years, three 3D printing centers, 900 models, and 1200 cutting guides per year. Bam!
  4. 3D Printed Medical Trainers Give First Responders Key Familiarity with Altered Airways, Study Shows  “ Patients with “altered airway anatomy”, e.g. tracheostomy and laryngectomy are often the ones who need secured airway the most during a medical emergency. Yet, “…less than 5% of frontline providers can describe the anatomic differences, and only 41% administered oxygen via the correct route in laryngectomy patients. …” Original publication here.
  5. Point of care manufacturing Bringing medical device development into the healthcare facility. When hospitals also become expert medical device manufacturers, the economics (and behaviors) of healthcare institutions will undoubtedly change as well.
  6. The advantages of 3D printed PEEK implants in spinal fusion and beyond  As a radiologist, the fact that PEEK devices are much less artifact-prone on CTs and MRIs is already a huge value-added. Is PEED and 3D printing the perfect marriage? 
  7. Evonik introduces the world’s first carbon-fibre reinforced PEEK filament for long-term 3D printed medical implants  Evonik ahead of the game as a material supplier. 
  8. Researchers from the Institute of Materials Science and Technology at TU Wien in Vienna have developed a novel process for 3D printing artificial biological tissue.  One step at a time in the right direction. More ways to have control over stem cell colonization of bioprinted structures. Also, FYI, we will only share news articles with links to original publications like the one above. The original research study is here
  9. Startup Accelerator: FITme Revolutionizes Cosmetic Surgery with 3D Printing  FITme,a Korean startup, showed true creativity and problem-solving ability in creating a new market in the aesthetics space. It’s worth reading.
  10. 3D Printing Hair Follicles in Lab-Grown Skin A tiny hair is far more complex to bioprint than it looks, but we are getting there. This is a remarkable step forward with human cells. Check out our on-demand recording of Bioprinting for Skin Components.
  11. Scientists from IOCB Prague have improved materials for reconstructive and plastic surgery  A great example of biomaterial for 3D printing innovation. As a radiologist, I think having implants we can see on MRI and CT makes sense. Quality data is the sure path to device innovation, and currently, with metal implants; we can only, at best, use X-rays. Publication is here.
  12. 3D printing technology for tissue: Bayreuth researchers combine hydrogels and fibres in a new technology.  Researchers at the University of Bayreuth co-founded a new startup called Biovature based on new composite bioink with nanofibers and touch spinning biofabrication technique named “4D-Fibroprinter”. The publication is here. What is “touch-spinning”? It is based on “mechanically drawing nanofibers from polymer solutions and/or melts to produce highly aligned fibers on a stationary substrate with fiber diameter ranging from a few nanometers to a few micrometers. This simple and scalable fabrication method is based on highly rotating fiber drawing bars that mechanically pull the fibers from a polymer solution and/or melt droplet formation on the tip of the needle of the syringe and deposit the fibers on a stationary or rotating substrate to yield fibers in different orientations.”
  13. 3D-printed wheelchair seats for the United Kingdom and Ireland  I would love to have a custom-made personalized office chair as I write this newsletter with both neck and back pain. 
  14. Carbon Releases Automatic Operation Suite for Dental 3D Printing. There should be more automation in 3D printing and quicker in any vertical. It is still a largely inaccessible technology due to dexterity and tinkering requirements, limiting full human creativity. This article reminds me of the acquisition of Origin by Stratasys in 2020. It would be interesting to evaluate the return on investment on this acquisition over the next several years.
  15. Stratasys Teams Up with Express Dental to Donate 3D-printed Dentures in Support of the Oklahoma Dental Association’s Mission of Mercy. First of all, thank you! “Of seventeen percent of U.S. adults older than 65, only fifteen percent of the population have dentures. Additionally, the edentulous population often overlaps with populations with lower socioeconomic status and poor overall health. Therefore, while the call for “equity” is louder, the disparity in oral health is doomed to increase with an aging population and increasing costs.” (3DHEALS Dental 3D Printing Guie) The interview we conducted back in 2018 with Dr. Valerie Cooper also had an honest clinician’s view on the dire status of our toothlessness and how technology can help.
  16. 3D Printing Consolidation or Collaboration? The Driving Theme of AMS 2024. Mergers and acquisitions make money for investment bankers 100% of the time, but they are generally considered a low-quality growth strategy. 
  17. How India is building its 3D bioprinting industry. This is a great write-up on the Indian startups and influential scientists in 3D bioprinting. India is a powerhouse in the future of #biofabrication, as it already plays a critical role in the pharma world.
  18.  Automatic data-driven design and 3D printing of custom ocular prostheses. This Fantastic new publication focuses on a specific 3D technology workflow to increase the productivity of making a better prosthetic eye. I hope they can speak at our Design conference this year’s end. 
  19. Printing plant-based pharmaceuticals—without plants. A 10K bioprinter was constructed for 500 USD by a group of undergraduate students. Never underestimate the value of human creativity. 
  20. FRESH™ 3D bioprinted cardiac tissue, a bioengineered platform for in vitro pharmacology. This is an excellent publication on bioprinted myocardium by Fluidform3D. The big question is when we can have solid validation data comparing bioprinted or bio-fabricated tissue models against the existing 35-dollar mouse model from China.
  21. Advancements of 3D bioprinting in regenerative medicine: Exploring cell sources for organ fabrication  This is a good article outlining essential cell sources for bioprinting. Dr. Mayasari Lim wrote a great article on stem cell strategy a while back with 3DHEALS.
  22.  3D bioprinting of human neural tissues with functional connectivity New publication demonstrating a “technology platform for assembling neuronal and glial subtypes into defined 3D neural tissues in which neurons and glia form functional connections within and between tissue layers using extrusion bioprinting. This is achieved by printing one layer or band next to another horizontally rather than stacking the layers vertically. The conventional culture systems can maintain these specially designed 3D neural tissues and are amenable to easy live-cell imaging and electrophysiological recording, providing a new platform for examining human neural networks under physiological and pathological conditions.”
  23. Biocompatibility of 3D-Printed Dental Resins: A Systematic Review  Okay, paper, but good list of papers to dig deeper into.
  24. The 19 Most Famous Angel Investors in 3D Printing Get your camping gear ready…;)  
  25. Carlsmed Raises $52.5M in Series C Financing to Advance Personalized Spine SurgeryI still remember my first meeting with CEO Mike Cordonnier circa 2018 when he was raising his seed round (a #Pitch3D startup). Not many of us believed that personalized spinal surgery with 3D technologies was within reach, but he persisted. Kudos to team Carlsmed!
  26. Craft Health, a Singapore-based  Pitch3D startup,  partnered with National Custom Manufacturing and appointed National Custom Manufacturing as the exclusive distributor for Craft Health’s products and services in Australia and New Zealand. The dawn of automation in pharmaceutical compounding.
  27. Tiny technologies for high-impact medical applications: The universities and companies exploring the frontier of nano and micro 3D printing for medical applications. This is an Excellent summary of who’s who in the world of 3D microfabrication. Mark your calendar for our upcoming May event focusing on the same topic.
  28. A new 3D printing method uses ice to build a template or artificial blood vessels, advancing tissue engineering. Ice is the perfect murder weapon but also the source of life. This is a good interview with the researchers. It takes ten years to get to this point, folks. The publication is here.


Seth Godin is an excellent writer who can describe and organize our intuitions, paranoia, and observations with layman’s language while elevating one’s world understanding and inspiring innovative approaches. This book is worth the $$. Also if you are cheap like me, Amazon Unlimited has a ton of his books for free. Or the library.