Leslie Frost – “Aerospace is in its infancy with 3D printing and it is just beginning to realize the true capabilities of additive manufacturing”

leslieheadshotLeslie Frost manages Arcam’s marketing efforts globally for the EBM business along with AP&C’s powder business and DTI’s orthopedic contract manufacturing business since April 2016. Leslie has been working in the 3D world starting with Dassault Systemes SolidsWorks Corp. since 2008. Her experience with 3D printing started with the 3D CAD world and moved to 3D printing for plastics with the Polyjet technology. When Objet and Stratasys merged she played a critical role in managing the marketing efforts to promote both the Polyjet and the FDM technologies together. Since moving to Arcam she has expanded her knowledge into the metal 3D printing world and is currently promoting and helping to expand the applications and technologies for the EBM process in orthopedics and aerospace production.

Leslie, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?

My first introduction to the capabilities of 3D printing was when I worked at Dassault Systemes SolidWorks as a Program Marketing Manager. In this position, I worked closely with SolidWorks 3D CAD software customers to explore some of the amazing and innovative designs that SolidWorks was bringing to life. During a couple of these interviews, I met customers that were using 3D printers to perfect their designs. Seeing firsthand the capability of 3D printing and beginning to understand the benefit, I knew I wanted to be a part of this industry. It was at this time that I saw a job opening working in the marketing department for Objet in Billerica, Massachusetts. I have been working to promote and advance the capabilities, applications and overall usage of 3D printing ever since.

What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?

The first marketing project I worked on when I was at Objet was a webinar with Jason Lopes at Legacy Effects. This webinar was focused on the Halo commercial that needed to be completed in a very short timeframe. Jason turned to his Objet 3D printer to create over 1000 of the characters used to make this commercial. The precision and resolution that was achieved on the Objet 3D printer were so amazing and the application was so different than any other customer that I had worked with. This was the beginning of a great friendship with Jason and fortunately many amazing 3D printing projects together.  

You are now the Marketing Manager at Arcam. Could you explain furthermore what Arcam is and the services that you are providing?

Arcam is traditionally known for the Arcam EBM metal AM system, however, in the past few years, they have expanded their capabilities through some strategic acquisitions that make Arcam one of the only manufacturers that provide systems, materials and part services for metal Additive Manufacturing.  The heritage of Arcam is the manufacturer of metal 3D printers using Electronic Beam Melting (EBM®) technology. Arcam’s EBM printers utilize a high power electron beam that melts the metal powder layer by layer extremely fast and accurately. The Arcam EBM process takes place in a vacuum at a very high temperature resulting in stress-relieved parts and material properties better than cast and comparable to wrought material.

Additionally, through our subsidiary AP&C we are the leading producer of Titanium metal powder used in all metal 3D printers – both EBM and laser based powder bed systems.  And through our subsidiary DTI we have established the “Center of Excellence” in producing implants using additive manufacturing. DTI’s contract manufacturing services provide insight into the design and production of implants for FDA approval.

What industries benefit most from your technologies? And why?

Arcam’s EBM technology is used in both Aerospace and Medical industries where the capabilities of additive manufacturing offer unique benefits. In aerospace, additive manufacturing offers the capability to design parts that cannot be conventionally manufactured allowing the designer to decrease the total number of parts used, decrease the total weight and simplifying the supply chain. I feel this industry is in its infancy with 3D printing and it is just beginning to realize the true capabilities of additive manufacturing. True innovators that have really pushed the technology and capabilities have been Avio Aero (now owned by GE Aviation) and Honeywell Aerospace. Both have embraced additive manufacturing and lead the industry in identifying and adopting AM applications for production.

In orthopedic implants, Arcam’s EBM technology has been able to revolutionize this field by offering the unique capability of printing implants with a trabecular structure to increase bone ingrowth while reducing production cost. There are a growing number of CE-certified and FDA-cleared titanium implants 3D printed with Arcam’s EBM technology for hip replacements and spinal cages. Just recently released is the capability of printing knee implants using CoCr material in the Arcam Q10plus printer. CoCr offers strength and wear resistance along with excellent biocompatibility which is needed for knee implants.

Additionally, AP&Cs powder is recognized in both the aerospace and orthopedic industries as the highest quality titanium powder and is often spec’d as the preferred material by OEMs. AP&C’s unique Advanced Plasma Atomization (APA) process produces a powder that is best suited for 3D printing offering the highest yield of parts off the printer.  DTI is viewed as an innovative leader in AM for orthopedics having the largest installation of the latest EBM technology dedicated to orthopedic contract manufacturing. With their experience and understanding of the complete process from design through to completed parts they offer a unique “Center of Excellence” for any company looking to get into 3D printing for implants.

And why do Aerospace and Orthopedic industries need dedicated printers?

Aerospace and Orthopedic industries are looking for different size printers to be effective and efficient for their printing needs. Orthopedics are printing smaller parts such as hip cups and spinal cages and with the capability of the Arcam EBM printer to use the complete build platform by stacking and nesting parts, the smaller build chamber of the Q10plus printer is ideal for these applications.

The aerospace industry needs the capability of printing larger parts and the build platform of the Q20plus at (Ø350×380 mm) offers the capacity needed to print these parts while still offering the efficiency and accuracy of the smaller printer.  

You have been in the 3D Printing industry since 2008. Did you ever face some challenges from being a woman in this industry? How is that evolving?

I have been in the 3D world since 2008 starting with Dassault Systemes SolidWorks and I moved to Objet in 2011 where I could focus completely on 3D printing. It is amazing the journey and transformation that has happened in this industry since that time. I have met some of the most amazing innovators in 3D printing in all different industries from aerospace to education to fashion. Engineering is the foundation for 3D printing and has always been a male-dominated world. I am happy to say that I am beginning to see some movement with female design engineers entering and taking on more prominent roles in this industry. I have had the pleasure of working with some of the true pioneer women in this industry such as Neri Oxman, Caitlin Oswald and Arita Matsoff.

Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?

I am sure that everyone has  heard about GE’s announcement to purchase Arcam and Concept Laser, this to me is the most exciting news to happen to this industry. GE has been an innovative leader for 3D printing and this announcement validates the true impact that 3D printing will have in the future of industrial production.  

What was the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?

3D printing has touched so many lives in many different ways and when you use the word impactful it feels right to talk about how it is benefiting us on a day to day basis with its use in the medical field. The printing of plastics, metals and the research they are doing with printing human tissue is so incredibly impressive, it is easy to get excited about the future potential. How far we have come simply with printing orthopedic implants that are not only custom fit for the patient but are printed with a trabecular structure that encourages bone ingrowth in just a few years is very impressive.   

What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:

  • As a business person?

Never have I worked in an industry that is so dynamic and exciting to be a part of. 3D printing has had such an impact on business, production and is truly changing lives on a daily basis. Being a part of this industry and helping companies understand the potential of 3D printing has been the highlight of my career. Meeting some of the true innovators in the business and seeing not only the challenges that they have faced but the victory on the other side has been very rewarding.

  • As a woman?

It is extremely important to excite and inspire young girls to get more involved in careers in engineering and 3D printing. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of the bright young girls that have been involved in different STEM programs that I have worked with. I hope to continue supporting these organizations and cultivating young girls to move into engineering fields.

What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?

3D printing is a new technology and the industry has grown so quickly that it has caught the attention of media, government, educators and most importantly innovators. Of course with all this attention there has been some inflated hype and some amazing revelations. I think the potential is real and very exciting. With companies like GE, Airbus, Boeing getting involved and spec’ing AM parts for aerospace production and companies like Oak Ridge National Labs working with groups to understand the validation process we are well on our way to having an enormous impact on changing the current production process. In the medical industry we have been implanting 3D printed orthopedic parts since 2007 and the number of companies and the applications are growing dramatically.

In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?

While there can never be enough encouragement, I think organizations such as yours that are recognizing this issue and helping to provide encouragement and support to get more women involved in 3D printing is a great start. I recommend you keep highlighting women who are actively involved in our industry by sharing their enthusiasm and triumphs hopefully this will excite more women to join. Additionally, it may be beneficial to have more exposure at leading shows with awards and recognition ceremonies. Maybe team up with SME, AMUG, TCT and Formnext to help promote this recognition.


Thank you for reading and for sharing!

We invite you to join Women in 3D Printing on LinkedIn and Facebook for further discussion.

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