Interview with Jeph Ruppert: 3D Systems, Metal AM

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Jeph Ruppert is a director with 3D Systems’ Application Innovation Group (AIG) – a team comprised of engineers, designers, and technicians that collaborates with the company’s customers to architect bespoke additive manufacturing solutions and applications. Renowned for his expertise in process control, validation, and characterization using metal AM within the medical device and other critical application industries, Jeph has supported the manufacture of more than 2 million medical devices to date and more than 100 customers 510(k) and CE marks. He is a key contributor to regulatory organizations, providing guidance which is helping to shape industry standards. Jeph received his Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Economics from the University of Colorado – Boulder, and writes and speaks frequently sharing his expertise in metal AM. Jeph will be speaking at Metal 3D Printing for Medical Devices Conference.

About above photo: Mandibula made of titanium produced by 3D printing on the basis of a CBCT scan (Source: Premet, www.premet.hu)

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

Jeph: I somewhat fell in to 3D printing in 2010.  Found a job in an industry I wanted to be in that happened to use AM to solve problems.  I don’t really recall the first initial encounter but the technology has always been pretty slick and could do things that were not previously possible.  Early on I took a process driven approach to minimize risk in the process which means deep understanding and characterization of the process itself through an application lens.

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?

Jeph: Needed a job, job market was light.  All happenstance but continue to love it.

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

Jeph: Andy Christensen, founder of Medical Modeling.  I joined with less than 20 employees, his vision was and is still clear and great.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Jeph: We get to do cool stuff and have a great team

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

Jeph: Regulatory ambiguity and constant movement of what success looks like. Mostly driven by lack of understanding of the technology.

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)?

Jeph: See above.  Bludgeon them with data showing the repeatability and reliability of the process.

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

Jeph: Live your life with passion and vigor.  Just give a s#*t.  

Career hopping is still not a good idea.

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