Interview: Sean Looi, General Manager of Creatz3D Pte Ltd

What inspired me was a story published in 2012 about Emma’s experience with a 3D printed WREX Exoskeleton (to Emma, the WREX Exoskeleton was her “Magic Arms”) that changed her entire life. Words cannot describe the impact it made deep within me so below is a link of the story in [Watch: here]”

Sean Looi is the General Manager of Creatz3D Pte Ltd, the authorized distributor of Stratasys™ 3D printing systems and materials in Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. Creatz3D’s additive manufacturing solutions also include Arcam™ for production of metal components as well as Materialise™ Rapid Prototyping Softwares.
Despite majoring in MSc Finance, Sean’s passion for 3D printing opened the door of opportunity of distributing 3D printing technologies in 2007. His knowledge in various manufacturing practices placed him in a favorable position to advice on advanced solutions for direct digital manufacturing.
Sean’s accumulated technical experience with a variety of different 3D printing machines, technologies, and applications, across all industry sectors, helped him to gain foresight into the macroeconomy of additive manufacturing potential.
In return, Sean has been actively helping companies various sectors think more critically, innovate better to improve workflow and is highly respected in the local Additive Manufacturing committee. With over 6 years of experience in the industry, Sean is a regularly invited keynote speaker in various local institutions and events.

Sean Looi will be a speaker at the 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?
Sean: The first encounter was back in 2011 with the Polyjet Technology by then Objet (now Stratasys). I was amazed by the quality of the printed part and how the technology can be applied across a wide range of industries. And from there, I believe that the technology is here to stay and transform the way that manufacturing is done.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Sean: Our company, Creatz3D, started in bio-printing in 2013 where we started distributing regenHU’s range of bio-printer. But prior to that, we’ve worked with other research institutions on 3D printing in the area of models for surgical planning. We’ve also started a medical division producing models for education purposes as well as surgical planning since 1 Jan 2017.
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.
Sean: What inspired me was a story published in 2012 about Emma’s experience with a 3D printed WREX Exoskeleton (to Emma, the WREX Exoskeleton was her “Magic Arms”) that changed her entire life. Words cannot describe the impact it made deep within me so below is a link of the story in [Watch: here]
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Sean: Within the medical field, the sense that 3D printing can help contribute and improve the outcome of medical procedure thus positively impact the patient.
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Sean: Resistance to change. In both industrial and medical communities, change is difficult for all individuals. But through the years, 3D printing has been gradually accepted in the medical community albeit at a slower pace in comparison to other developed countries.
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)?
Sean: Specifically, to bio-printing, the potential is huge when we are discussing printing out patient-specific organs etc… But this is also the challenge. Why? Everyone is focused on the future and neglecting the short-term impact that 3D printing can make right now. Such as:

  • 3D Printed education models can aid medical education institution and hospitals in providing better simulation and education of not only actual patient scenarios but also rare and complex conditions.
  • The benefits that have been seen both for the patient as well as the surgeons that patient-specific models and implants can help in improving surgical outcomes.
  • The potential relief of the tremendous strain that is present in the medical community, both on a manpower level and on an economic level. Where with the integration of 3D Printing in both the educational and hospital level, junior doctors can be trained in a quickening pace through better increased surgical practice with 3D Printed simulation model. Where experienced doctors can have a better alignment as well as pre-surgical planning before the operation, allowing for minimally invasive procedures to be discovered, reducing surgical time and reducing post-op visits for the patients.

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?

  1. The full integration of 3D Printing technologies into the medical community, this can be in the area of Medical Simulation Models (2) Pre-Surgical Models (3) Patient-specific surgical guides (4) Patient-Specific Implants. Ideally, a 1-click process from CT/MRI to 3D printed parts.
  2. The realization of the full potential of bio-printing, where we will be able to print “spare” organs of every individual through the harvesting of their stem cells to reduce rejections.
  3. A medical hub that would be able to consolidate all 3D Printing technologies into a consolidated point to serve the medical community in Singapore and southeast Asia.

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?
Sean: I think a good advice would be to never give up on something that you believe, every up and coming product/ technology/ idea are bound to meet resistance in every aspect. The most important thing is that for yourself to never give up on what you believe this technology will help in.
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?
Sean: In order for us to get a different result, you have to do something different.
Jenny: What were/was the best/worst investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Sean: Getting my hands dirty into 3D Printing. This includes time & money etc… you cannot learn about the technology and its usage from afar.
Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?
Sean: The biggest risk was switching to a career from finance to industrial equipment. It was a totally different job scope and industry but a fulfilling one as it lead me to 3D printing.
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Sean: Spending quality time with my family.
Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?
Sean: It is always a chicken and an egg situation, wherein most of the cases of implementation, two parties are always looking at each other to start the ball rolling. However, whom to take the first step forward would be the main pushing factor in driving new industry standards or initiatives.
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)
Sean: 3D Printing technologies that are utilized and adopt by trained medical professionals to be used in healing patients and improving their quality of life.