Interview with Adam Clark, Tangible Solutions

Adam Clark
Adam Clark

Adam Clark is CEO and President of a Nationally Recognized Contract Manufacture of 3D Printed Titanium Implants, Tangible Solutions. Tangible Solutions provides large-scale precision Additive Manufacturing solutions to the Orthopedic Implant Industry.

After an accomplished career with the US Army as a Green Beret, Mr. Clark worked in Human Performance & Productivity programs as a Contractor for the Department of Defense. Eventually, his path led to the medical industry becoming a founding member of Tangible Solutions, a Contract Manufacturer of 3D Printed Titanium Orthopedic Implants.  Clark became CEO of Tangible Solutions in 2016. He will also be our speaker to the upcoming Cleveland 3DHEALS speaker this Thursday.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like?

Adam: Chris invited me to the first Tangible Solutions Office, which was in Charlie’s garage.  We were there to discuss standing up the business and working out the visions, sales and what that strategy would look like.  I knew the applications of Additive Manufacturing, but up to that point, I had no hands-on experience.  Before we sat down to discuss the vision for Tangible, Chris showed me the 2 Stratasys uPrints, and then asked me “What do you want me to print you?”. I told him to print me a knife. He went about the business of getting the machine ready and I went upstairs to get ready for our meeting, shortly followed by Chris.  About 2 hours later, Chris went down the garage and brought back an assembled plastic pocket knife.  I still have it today.  It was an eye-opening moment of the potential Additive Manufacturing can bring to the world.  It still gives me goosebumps.

Jenny: What inspired you to start your career in 3D printing?

Adam: At the time Chris approached me, I was working for a Defense company and my job was to scour the land for factories to refurbish Humvees from the United States Marine Corps.  I found a shuttered factory after a shuttered factory.  It was really sad and disheartening. Communities devastated. It was then I started to explore ideas of how I could have a positive influence on the Amerian Economy through manufacturing, but looking for something I was passionate about.  When Chris and I finally got together, I found a technology that had so much potential and was being underutilized.  I knew what I wanted to do, and then I found how I wanted to do it.  Today, Tangible Solutions is a Nationally Recognized Contract Manufacture of 3D Printed Titanium Orthopedic Implants proudly manufactured in Dayton, Ohio.  We reside in what used to be a shuttered factory, of which the lights are back on, and supplying the orthopedic market with high-quality solutions.

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in healthcare 3D printing?

Adam: First, my relationship with God has been strengthened through this experience.  It is through him that all these opportunities are possible.  My faith is as strong as it has ever been and I am so thankful.  My father was a huge influence.  Especially when times were hard.  He never let me wallow in my failures, and called me out when I was down.  He listened to all of our practice presentations and even paid me to do some work for him in his business when I was completely broke.  My business partner, Chris Collins has been a very inspiring person for me as well.  His tenacity to be the best and willingness to ‘slug it out in the trenches’ is unmatched.  He doesn’t back down from tough conversations and stands his ground.  He’s also had my back as we’ve grown as entrepreneurs and individuals.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Adam: My purpose to contribute to the American Economy by way of manufacturing the highest quality products for customers around the world.  It means so much to slap ‘Made in the USA’ on the products we ship out the door.  As our focus as a Contract Manufacturer of 3D Printed Titanium Implants has been honed over the years, I have been able to see first hand how the products we make give people their lives back.  Enabling them to live without pain and get back to experiencing the best life has to offer.  It’s an amazing feeling.  My family is a huge motivating factor.  Being able to show my children that anything is possible.  That you really can build anything you want from nothing so long as you are willing to put in the work and maintain focus on your vision.

Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?

Adam: Once Tangible was mature enough to make the leap to standing up our Factory, we found many challenges.  Cash flow management, validation of 3D Printing Technology for use in medical implants, and ISO Certification are the top three that come to mind.  You can say that we have conquered all three, but they all have their continuous challenges.  Really, that is what makes all this fun.

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)?

Adam: Acceptance.  Just a few months ago I called a prospect, and he called Additive Manufacturing ‘Black Magic’.  I asked him to put down his book “The Scarlet Letter”, and hear me out.  He was having none of it, ha.  There is a lot of misinformation that stems from Additive Manufacturing really being in its infancy.  For instance, we have customers that believe it requires a new 510(k) Submission in order to onboard a new vendor. In reality, that is not the case. The FDA is very well versed in Additive Manufacturing and industry is not giving our regulatory bodies enough credit on their increased awareness, understanding, and management of the technology.  This is something we can take confidence in especially since the use of Additive Manufacturing is proliferating.

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

Adam: First, I would thank that higher being – God, for the challenges and obstacles that have made our team who we are today.  But for the question: 1. Introduction of future team members who know how to do ‘Whatever it takes’ (Tangible Solutions Core Value).  2. Continue to foster the trust and love our team has for each other. 3. More prospects to pick up their phone when we call with our message!

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?

Adam: Don’t freak out when you hit the ground and your plan falls apart.  That’s all it was, a plan.  It’s up to you to dig in when times get tough.  Hold the line at all cost, that’s what makes you a legend.  People will tell you to quit, but they don’t have the same vision or context around your situation. When they tell you to quit, do not seek their advice anymore.  You are the only person that has to live with the consequences of your decisions, nobody else.  Find people you can trust and will make you better.  Speak your mind and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking questions makes you smarter.

Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community, what message would that be?

Adam: Stop talking about what can be done to industrialize Additive Manufacturing, it’s already being done in Dayton, Ohio.

Jenny: What were/was the best investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?

Adam: Titanium metal printers.  Making it our sole focus to be the Contract Manufacturer of 3D Printed Titanium Orthopedic Implants.

Jenny: What were/was the worst investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?

Adam: 3D Printing Plastics as a service.  Low margins, low barriers to entry, and you have to compete with the companies that sell the machines.

Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career? 

Adam: Selling off all capital equipment that did not contribute to the production of 3D Printed Titanium Orthopedic Implants, making it our sole focus in order to become the best.  It’s paying off.

Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?

Adam: I enjoy camping, spending time with my children, cast-iron cooking, lifting and reading.

Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?

Adam: “Be a simple kind of man, be something you love and understand.”  This lyric is from ‘Simple Man’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd.  Being a Momma’s Boy, I love this song being from a mother to her son.  This song is a good reminder that our lives can be complicated by our decisions, and you can always take solace that there is somebody above.  It’s important to keep our lives simple to avoid clouding the vision for our life with things that do not matter.

Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)

Adam: We’ve had the pleasure of watching Jenny pour her heart and soul into 3DHEALS from the beginning, and it is extremely inspiring.  3DHEALS is accelerating legitimate conversation and opportunity for the medical community in regard to 3D Printing and BioPrinting.  As time goes on our society will benefit from these early conversations.

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