Diana, could you let us know briefly about your background and your journey into Additive Manufacturing?
I’m a chemical engineer, and worked in engineering and software test before starting ActivArmor, in order to meet a need for a hygienic, waterproof casting alternative.
Can you share more about ActivArmor and your activities?
ActivArmor is the first commercially available custom 3D printed casting/splinting product in the U.S. market. We are available in clinics across the country and have franchises across the world as well now.
We are launching an iPhone scanning app this spring that will allow any patient or provider to order an ActivArmor custom cast.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
Solving the problems needed to provide a mass customization medical device solution in an inventory-driven world. Not only on the production side but on the sales side, with all the regulatory and procedural barriers to entry in medicine.
Do you have any (fun or not) stories about your career to share with us?
Yes, the back story and mission story is why I’m here! My brother died of Cystic Fibrosis, so we spent a lot of time in Children’s Hospital growing up. With an engineering mind, I knew that I was meant to help people like him, to improve their quality of life while living with injuries or conditions.
When I started running the mentoring program for children in poverty and saw them struggle with wet, smelly, dirty, uncomfortable casts (they couldn’t even wash their hands before lunch), I had the experience and expertise to solve the problem with technology. I formed an amazing team, and now we have partnering physicians and hospitals across the country, and have helped thousands of patients. We constantly get notes from patients thanking us for saving their summer vacations, their sports seasons, and improving their lives.
One amazing moment was when Children’s Hospital Colorado announced the grand opening of their new ActivArmor providing clinic on my brother’s birthday!
Every single day we get to do what we love and help people too – it’s the most rewarding job anyone could ever ask for.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman 3D Printing?
There have been a few… mostly from the old-school manufacturing and medical device markets – being underestimated or patronized at first, or answering stupid questions like “who runs the day-to-day business activities” or “Are you married?” that they wouldn’t ask if you were male… But I wouldn’t say it’s held us back.
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
I’m biased, but I’d have to say it’s in medicine. No human is one-size-fits-all, and the potential for development in the area of custom products in both internal and wearable custom medical devices is mind-boggling.
The potential for quality of life improvements in medicine, and 3D printing biomaterials in the treatment of disease and organ transplants… it’s really exciting to think about all the possibilities.
What advice do you have for women looking to get started in 3D Printing?
I would say, “dive in”. Just start DOING IT. You’ll refine your processes and procedures and business model and products as you go, so just get started.
And don’t wait for, or depend on, anyone else. Keep moving forward, and when barriers come up, find creative ways to break or circumvent them. The more challenges you face, the further your competitive advantage.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with Additive Manufacturing?
I would just encourage women to try STEM activities, and see where they feel their natural interests lie. There are so many exciting new fields to explore… intern as much as possible, get a variety of experiences, and when you find your niche, go all-in!
Become the subject matter expert and immerse yourself entirely in what you love and are great at.
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
Yes, please follow ActivArmor on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn, and look out for our new iPhone app coming out this spring!
3D printed casts and splints will now be available nationwide and worldwide. We are looking for help – investors and online influencers as we grow, so please like, follow and share!
Favorite 3D tool?
Digital 3D Sculpting Haptic Devices
Favorite moment in your day job?
Fitting patients and seeing how excited they are with the product
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years?
Plug-and-play 3D printers creating custom products in every doctor’s office, on-demand
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview?
Megan Augustine, M.Ed. – Director, Network Simulation Center, St. Luke’s University Health Network