Interview: Mr. Janis Jatinieks, Founder and CEO of WiDE

Mr. Janis Jatnieks has been working with industrial 3D printing for the last five years. Operating in a small market of Baltic States has always made them more aware of where the 3D printing technology is advancing and which are the niche products that are perfect for 3D printing. The first time he encountered a request for 3D printed prosthetic was 3 years ago and has been working with 3D printed prostheses and orthoses ever since. Mr. Janis Jatnieks will be a speaker at the #3DHEALS2018 conference on April 20-21st, 2018. 
Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Janis: The first time I encountered 3D printing was through a YouTube video. At the time I was working as a broker on wall street and my first thought was – what the hell am I doing here – this technology will change everything!
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Janis: I saw an opportunity to bring that technology “home” to Northern Europe. This was my opportunity to move from advising people to actually manufacturing and I took the leap. Right now everything I do is revolving around additive manufacturing. The medical aspect of my work came as an unexpected pivot, but it was a welcome one. I truly believe that 3D printing and medical/bio-printing applications are the perfect fit – it is a space where you always need a custom product.

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.
Janis: I have been truly inspired by the work of Neri Oxman, who has been able to transfer nature forms to her 3D printed designs and products. Hugh Herr has a brilliant vision on how to envision the possibilities that technology can give you to replace a missing a limb. And Amy Karle has the most captivating approaches to combining 3D printing, art, technology, and biology.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Janis: The first time my team gave a 3D printed prosthetic to a six-year-old boy and he was glimmering with pride. I saw at that moment that we have not only produced him a replacement limb, but we have given him a product that will let him stand out. He was excited to show it to everyone in his class at the kindergarten and not at all shameful of his different limb. I want to create more experiences like that.
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Janis: Biggest obstacle – industry players interested in maintaining the status quo. Nothing can be harder than showing a new/different approach to professionals who believe that they are already doing the best job possible and that their personal way of doing things is the only right one. We never say we know better or that we can do better – we merely say there is another way – the digital way. But conveying the message the right way is a problem. The best way around is to educate. To educate about the benefits, the differences, and the challenges.
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)?
Janis: Same as before. Trying to bring something new to the Prosthetics and Orthotics market is most difficult due to people not willing to change. My approach is to provide an alternative that does not necessarily replace the existing methods.
Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Janis: My advice would be to try out as many things as possible while still at school. Our company has provided internships, training, and free 3D prints to any interested student. I believe there are many more options around that could be utilized to learn more about real work environments and the skills needed to thrive in them. Ask employers what they need – they will always give you an answer that you can work with to understand if you’re on the right path.
Jenny: What were/was the best investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Janis: My own companies! Establishing and working on the WIDE project has been my two best investments.
Jenny: What were/was the worst investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Janis: Buying 3D Systems stock. 🙂
Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?
Janis: Changing the field of work and pursuing the 3D printing path. I have never looked back, but when I started there was no “path” to take – it was more like wandering around in the darkness.
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Janis: I enjoy spending time with my family. When not around them I spend my spare time doing sports like running or playing ice hockey. I enjoy watching movies and reading books. I also like to spend a sunny afternoon on the golf course.
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you? =)
Janis: Health is a state of being; healthcare is just an industry; healing is the process of becoming healthier and improving one’s quality of life. I like how the word heals brings more meaning to the name of the event.