Interview with Dr. Mayra Vasques, Dental 3D Printing, INNOV3D

May 29, 2020

Dr. Mayra Vasques is the founder of iNNOV3D an EdTech company focused on supporting and training teachers and universities in Healthcare for the innovative and efficient use of 3D Technologies. The company was founded based on the belief that the best innovative solutions in healthcare will emerge from professionals that are raised familiar with technology and for this, the institutions must be prepared for these professionals.

She started in the additive manufacturing field in 2015, during her PhD Fellow at School of Dentistry at the University of Sao Paulo, where she led a project in additive manufacturing for the development of occlusal splints for patients with orofacial pain. Since then she has been involved in several AM research projects and as panelist in conferences.

She is deeply involved in creating a positive and more accessible local ecosystem in Brazil for digital technology and AM, working for local community building associated with international organizations such as ”Women in 3D Printing” and “3DHeals”. Dr. Vasques will be speaking at the Digital Dentistry: 3D Printing and Beyond, on June 6th, 2020 during 3DHEALS2020.

Nabeel: We’re excited as a speaker at 3DHEALS2020. How has 3D Printing evolved in your field changed since you last spoke at the 3DHEALS2018?

Mayra: The last two years were a revolution when we think about the 3d printing in dentistry. There are new materials as polymers and metal, and new techniques developed in all areas, and more than this, the professionals are more familiar with the idea of integrating the technology in their routine. 

Nabeel: Within the last year you founded iNNOV3D, what do you hope to achieve with the organization?

Mayra: Innov3d emerged with the objective of enabling universities and their students to use efficient and innovative 3D technologies in dentistry, especially in relation to 3D printing. The future dentists who are being graduated in the coming years will certainly use these resources in their clinical practice. The idea and methodology we seek aims not only to train to reproduce the same current techniques using digital resources but also to stimulate innovation and the development of new solutions.

I´m coordinating nowadays a project during this coronavirus pandemic to manufacture 3D printed face shields ( and donate to hospitals. Until now almost 80K units were donated. Considering the innovation in this project compared with models already available online, we developed the design thinking about printability, to save time and material and the spacing between each ‘pin’ or hole follows the binder pattern, which makes it possible to be reproduced by any maker at home.

Nabeel: Being based in Brasil, what unique challenges and opportunities do you think you have developing 3Printing solutions?

Mayra: I believe that there are many possibilities in the Brazilian market. We are a country with many dentists and a large population that can benefit from the most universal technology and procedures. The challenge seems to me to be the development of the local industry in this area. It would be much more efficient and safer to work with locally manufactured products and not depend on unforeseen events that may occur in the foreign market (as we are now living in the pandemic of COVID-19).

One of the goals of innov3d is also to awaken this potential in the academic world, to bring about new market demands for the development of innovative solutions with the new professionals being trained.

Nabeel: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work?

Mayra: Innovation is a hot topic, but a little distant from the reality of academic structures, which often have little margin for flexibility. This has been a challenge, but I believe that the new habits that have emerged in recent months have shown how much technology has saved us from living more difficult and challenging times. I believe that we will have fewer objections in the near future.

Nabeel: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing today?

Mayra: I believe that, regarding 3D printing and bioprinting technology, the challenges remain; the development of materials appropriate to the needs of professionals, and the longevity necessary to provide patient safety. The materials are better now but they need to be improved even more, mainly about the consistency of the results.

Nabeel: How can the 3D printing industry best help academics?

Mayra: The 3D printing industry (in the health area) should focus more on academics, who will be their consumers in the very near future and have a much lower entry barrier for technology than the professionals already established, although at that time they are not consumers.

Support for programs aimed at the public university is one of the most interesting ways of working with the academic public.

Nabeel: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Mayra: What moves me is the opportunity of creating. I love to spend my time thinking about and planning new solutions.

Nabeel: What advice would you give to a smart student looking to learn about 3D Printing? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?

The worst advice I received and I wish it wasn’t given to anyone else was “give up, it’s difficult”.

Each person in each location faces challenges and opportunities, so I would say “be persistent in your goals!”

Nabeel: What was the best investment you made of time or money in 3D printing? 

Mayra: Currently, I believe that the best investment I made was to dedicate myself to learning about technology. The equipment will change, evolve, but when we develop a way of thinking about innovation, technology, we are independent of the equipment.

Despite of it, I am still in love with my first printer. We have a story together in 3D printing.

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

Mayra: Outside working, I love to enjoy the time with my family, what I´m missing so much in these last months of social isolation.

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