Interview with Scott DeFelice:High-performance Additive Manufacturing

Prior to founding OPM (Oxford Performance Materials) in 2000, CEO and Chairman Scott DeFelice was co-founder and Vice President of Marketing at Oxford Polymers, a compounder of engineered thermoplastics, where he led the firm’s innovation, strategy, and business development activities. Mr. DeFelice has grown OPM to become a recognized leader in 3D printing and high-performance additive manufacturing (HPAM™). A proven entrepreneur in the fields of cutting edge materials and additive manufacturing, DeFelice’s company has developed a range of advanced materials technology focused on a high-performance polymer, poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK), and delivers enterprise-level, functional end-use products to the biomedical, aerospace, and industrial markets as the first company to successfully apply additive manufacturing solutions to PEKK. In addition to OPM, Mr. DeFelice serves on the Sustainability Committee of America Makes – the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute. Mr. DeFelice holds a BA from the University of Connecticut and an MSc from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. He is married with two children and is active in cycling and golf. Scott will be speaking at the upcoming Biomaterials for 3D Printing webinar.

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

Scott: 2005 we realized that our polymer had the right chemical attributes to be an ideal 3D printing material. We then worked with a machine developer to attempt to try first printing. That was the beginning of a decades-long development to get our products cleared for medical implants.

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

Scott: The desire to produce medical implants that improved clinical efficacy at a lower cost.

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

Scott: In my view, there is an insatiable demand for technologies that improve well-being with the increasingly limited resources available for healthcare. 

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?

Scott: As a private company we have the usual stakeholders including customers, partners, co-workers, investors, and shareholders. Meeting the demands of these groups is highly rewarding and motivating.

Jenny: What is the biggest obstacle in your line of work?

Scott: Innovation requires capital, patience, and deep domain expertise that can only be accumulated over time. Success requires both endurance and strategic flexibility while staying true to your core technical premise. 

Jenny: What do you think is the biggest challenge in 3D Printing?

Scott: The key is finding a truly unmet need and develop solutions that meet that need. In this sense, 3D printing is no different than any other new tech introduction. 

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

Scott: That is a funny question but gets to something that is interesting. Sometimes a team member will come to me with an unachievable ask and I will answer “I would like to be 35, have a full head of hair and a 32-inch waist.” Nice wish, but not going to happen.  On the one hand, dreams are important and seemingly unrealistic, but you must dream to innovate. On the other hand, execution requires fierce eyes wide open realism. Achieving a productive balance between dreams and realism is critical. 

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

Scott: Don’t win at all cost wing with integrity.

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