Interview with Dr. Ryan Harold, 3D Printing and Orthopedics

Ryan Harold, M.D.,  originally from Chicago, IL, first became interested in 3D printing as a hobby. His passion for 3D printing then merged with his profession, as he now uses 3D printing for surgical planning and as a research tool in Orthopedic Surgery. Ryan is currently a resident in Orthopedic Surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL. Ryan was born in the city of Chicago but grew up in Wheeling, IL – a northwest suburb of the city. He completed a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University and medical school at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In his free time, he enjoys running, golfing, and traveling. Dr. Harold is the current 3DHEALS Community Manager and is also a speaker for the upcoming 3D Printing for Orthopedics Event

(Image above: “3D graphic rendering of a scapula with a metal glenosphere (reverse shoulder replacement) implant, created for pre-surgical planning for an individual patient “)

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

Ryan: My first experience with 3D printing was after setting up my own printer and printing a first test part. Seeing firsthand the ability to take something from a 3D design in software and almost instantly turn it into a prototype or final part was an amazing revelation and experience.

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

Ryan: Orthopedics relies heavily on conceptualizing and working with 3D anatomy. The prospect of being able to print out bony anatomy and deformities was extremely exciting and appealing.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Ryan: There are a lot of clinical problems we don’t always have perfect treatment options for in orthopedics. Identifying the areas we can improve and working find solutions to the problems we face in orthopedics is extremely motivating for me.

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

Ryan: Regenerating cartilage is without a doubt the biggest challenge we face in orthopedics. Hopefully, the 3D printing/bio-printing community will have an answer to this problem in the coming decade(s)!

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)?

Ryan: One of the biggest challenges in orthopedics, with regard to 3D printing, understands where it provides the best value and when it should be used. Given that we work in a cost-conscious healthcare environment, it is important to use this often costly technology judiciously.

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? 

Ryan: Keep pushing the innovation envelope – there’s so much more we can do!

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

Ryan: Working out/running and spending time with my wife and 1-year old daughter!

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

Ryan: To me, 3DHEALS is the amalgamation of scientists, engineers, and healthcare professionals to advance the field of medicine through our common passion for 3D modeling and printing.

Related Articles:

Interview with Matt Lemay

Interview with Professor Gustavo Mendonca

Interview with Brett Carey: 3D Printed Orthoses

3D Printing for O&P, Assistive Devices (On Demand, 2022)

Metal 3D Printing (On Demand, 2022)