Interview with Laura Kastenmayer: Metal 3D Printing

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Laura Kastenmayer is the responsible Industry Manager for Medical Technology at TRUMPF Additive Manufacturing. Starting her career as an application engineer for Additive Manufacturing in 2017, she had to deal with all questions related to process and parameter set-up as well as freedom and restrictions in design and material. These topics have been no news to her since she already got involved with powder bed fusion Additive Manufacturing during her bachelor’s and master’s studies of Medical Technology at Friedrich-Alexander-University in Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. In her current role as Industry Manager, she has already overseen several customer projects from first contact to machine installation and equipment qualification of the TruPrint machines. TRUMPF’s TruPrint machines enable customers to manufacture metallic high-quality parts in different shapes and sizes fulfilling the specific requirements of mechanical properties, detail resolution, and cost per part. Laura will be a speaker for Metal 3D Printing for Medical Devices conference.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing?

Laura: My first encounter with 3D printing was in 2013 during my studies when I was working at the university and shortly after 3D printing became part of my bachelor thesis.

3D printing was exciting and new and not so well known at that time, which made it the perfect research topic. Nevertheless, even then I found some case studies on 3D printing of metal implants that fascinated me.

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

Laura: During my studies, I completed an internship at the university hospital that specializes in CMF reconstructions. In several conversations with one of the senior doctors, he pointed out that custom implants are so important for these patients to give them back their personal appearance and thus their quality of life. 3D printing can do that, and that inspired me to work in the additive industry.

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

Laura: My colleagues – most of whom started with no knowledge of 3D printing a few years ago – have acquired an insanely deep knowledge of the process, material behavior, and the technology itself that has led to innovative ideas in part and process design.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Laura: Our Customers’ Stories – It’s always amazing to see what our customers can accomplish with the equipment we offer and how technology evolves along with the industry.

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

Laura: Metal 3D printing is very complex technology. Basically, every week I get questions I cannot answer right away in a proper way. But this keeps you motivated to learn and continuously gather knowledge. Teamwork and the exchange of knowledge and ideas is the key to successfully conquering this obstacle.

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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)?

Laura: Many people still think of 3D printing as a prototyping solution, but it is already so much more. 3D printing has long been established in the industry as a trusted manufacturing solution for high-value products like medical implants. To realize the full potential of the technology, we need to stop debating whether 3D printing “can be a solution” and start asking “where and how exactly 3D printing can be beneficial”. Education is an important approach to this rethinking.

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

Laura: Open minds, courage, and honest discussions – the key to successful developments in any field.

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

Laura:

Good advice

Have fun and be inquisitive.

Don’t take “no” for an answer until it’s proven that it doesn’t work.

Bad advice to ignore

 At first, I was told that my enthusiasm might seem a bit unprofessional, but after a while, it became quite a successful way to convince others of this new and promising manufacturing solution called 3D printing. Don’t let others tell you how to be. There are so many ways to be successful.

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