Manual, thorough and passionate about the realization of objects, Lucie Pertuisel oriented herself towards engineering and industry work early on in order to perfect her craftsman skills. This allowed her to learn to organize and manage production workflow and to master the techniques of creation. Her versatility makes her suitable for shaping all kinds of materials (wood, resin, …) through a wide range of technologies (molding, thermoforming, …). Having become a model maker-prototypist, she entered the paramedical sector to contribute to the progress of medicine and the well-being of patients. It is in the Medtech sector her meeting with 3D printing takes place. The speed of production and the ability to print parts of unattainable complexity compared with other methods convinced her of the interest and potential of this 4th industrial revolution.
As the first 3D printing technician at BIOMODEX, she participated in setting up the lab from scratch. The replicas of human anatomies that BIOMODEX produces are used all over the world for the advanced training of surgeons or for patient-specific planning.
Lucie, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?
I started my career by studying prototyping with a specific focus on materials like plastics and woods. After my studies, I got a job in a traditional production environment to produce vacuum casted prototypes of anatomical models. As I was in prototyping, I got exposed to 3D printing on several occasions as the technology was used to handle the most complex products.
Could you explain furthermore your very first experience with 3D Printing?
My first 3D printing experience was the production of a spine. This spine could never have been produced in a traditional manner and resulted in a long and complex print. I think the product came out pretty well considering it was my first 3D print.
Later on at Biomodex, I got exposed to 3D printing in a structured way. Biomodex benefits of the whole range of 3D printing capabilities by mixing soft and hard material and it is really fascinating to what extent we can replicate the human anatomies through 3D printing technology.
Could you explain to us a bit more what Biomodex is about and the services provided?
Biomodex is a Medtech company that provides a holistic solution to the surgeon to plan and to practice his/her intervention. Biomodex will provide a replica of the human body part to the surgeon. The replica is 3D printed and is produced based on the medical image of the individual patient. Biomodex has developed a unique technology protected by several patents that allow reproducing the ultra-complex mechanical behavior of any human organ thanks to 3D printing.
Biomodex exists because medical errors are the 3rd cause of death in the US, after cancer and cardiovascular disease. Biomodex vision is to reduce this cause of death by allowing the surgeon to practice the intervention before treating the patient.
What is your role at Biomodex?
I have two main roles within Biomodex; first, I deliver client orders by launching prints and conducting post-processing activities to assure perfect quality as per medical (ISO) standards. Second, I collaborate with project managers, R&D, and design team in prototyping and industrialization phase to concretize new products and to prepare them for mass production. I spend 70% of my time in the production lab related to 3D printing. The remaining 30% I spend on R&D related activities, production management, and optimization.
How complex is it to build an organ for surgical training purposes? How close to the reality do the 3d printed parts need to be?
Due to its complexity, no-one has managed yet to perfectly recreate the human body or otherwise, there would be clones walking around. However, what we can do is to achieve an excellent replica of the surgeon experience by reproducing the biomechanical properties of a specific part of the human body. All this of course protected by patents.
What 3D Printing technology do you use and why choose this one over another?
We use the multijet technology due to its superior precision and its capability to mix soft and hard materials. Soft for nerves and hard for bones etc.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your department to share with us?
A film crew came to make a video and a technician asked me “are you here to add a female presence with all these men”? My response was, “No, I am not here to be cute. All these guys need me to produce their parts.”
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you?
3D Printing was for me like a show, like an innovation that generates the 4th industrial revolution. Biomodex has allowed me to become an actress in this show. This technology is still in its early stage and I am proud to be a woman that advances this revolution.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
Historically, it was not possible to use 3D printing as a production tool due to its limited technology. Today, 3D printing technology has evolved and is much more reliable and stable and can, therefore, be used in a production environment. The evolution of 3D printing should not only be about productivity. I really hope that this technology can serve people and health in a wider aspect. Now, we know the name of the first woman, “Lucy”. Maybe one day we will know the last one, “Major” from “Ghost in Shell”.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
3D printing is a good tool for artisans and artists. It allows creating parts that are impossible to produce in a traditional way (the complex part without assemblies). This technological revolution is an opportunity for women to reverse the preconceived notions of craftsmanship and to take their place in businesses that still today are male-dominated. I encourage women to be the artisans of tomorrow, thanks to this very accessible means of production.
Thank you for reading and for sharing!