As the Global Medical Business Development Manager of EOS North America, Laura Gilmour oversees more than 20 medical device OEMs and contract manufacturers using EOS technology around the world. She joined EOS in 2016 after working with the company as a customer during her 15 years as a biomedical research and development engineer.
Previously, Laura was a senior research engineer at Smith & Nephew Orthopedics where she and a team of engineers developed an advanced porous structure now used in orthopedic applications around the world. She also worked at Medtronic Spine and Biologics and Abbott Vascular where she was responsible for translating surgical needs into medical device designs. Prior to that, Laura spent two years as a pre-market reviewer for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), reviewing and clearing more than 80 orthopedic devices. During her time at the FDA, Laura was a founding member of the organization’s Additive Manufacturing Working Group.
Laura is a member of the SME Medical Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing Working Group and the Society of Women Engineers. She holds a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
Laura, tell us about your background and what brought you to the 3D printing industry?
3D printing is directly connected to my fundamental career interest of using engineering principles to improve medicine and medical devices. I have a bachelors and master’s degree in biomedical engineering. I first started working with additive manufacturing in 2009 as a Research Engineer at Smith & Nephew, one of the top orthopedic companies in the world. I was part of their division that explored innovative technologies that make better medical devices. Since then, additive technology has been threaded throughout my career: working for the U.S. FDA, Medtronic Spine, and then to where I am now as the lead for the medical device business at EOS, the technology leader for industrial 3D printing. It’s now an industry I’m passionate about because of the promise it has for improving medicine and medical devices for years to come.
You are the Global Medical Business Development Manager at EOS. Could you let us know a bit more about your work?
I am the first point of contact for EOS medical device business, meaning OEMs come to me when they need help implementing additive manufacturing into their business. Sometimes that means directly bringing their application designs and technology in-house and helping build a team to assist them in their journey, or connecting customers to the appropriate ecosystem of contract manufacturers that have experience doing what they are trying to do.
The interactions I have with customers gives me great industry insight, so EOS also depends on me to look ahead at what new frontiers the medical device industry is exploring with additive. I take those learnings back to EOS engineers and together, we push EOS technology in the direction it needs to go to help the medical device industry achieve those new frontiers of patient-centered care.
How did you use 3D printing while at Medtronic Spine & Biologics? Any specific material / process you used over the others?
I was the product development team lead responsible for evaluating various additive manufacturing technologies. It was my job to assess and reduce the risk of bringing the technology into production at Medtronic.
Can you share a fun or interesting story about your career in 3D printing?
Perhaps not a story particular to the technology, but a fun story in regards to the relationships you create throughout your career. EOS has a consulting division called EOS Additive Minds that works with customers like I once was and one of the team leads based in Germany, Michael Galba, and I worked closely together during my time at Smith & Nephew. When I was leaving Smith & Nephew he explained to me that there is an idea in Germany that you meet everyone twice in life, so until the next time we meet, rather than good-bye. It turns out he was right – today we work together fairly closely again.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman in 3D Printing?
An amusing perspective to this question – as a female in a mostly male environment I was amazed at how many men remembered my name when I’d met them only once briefly at a conference. Relaying this to a friend recently, she commented that it was probably pretty easy to remember a woman’s name since I was likely one of a few women they’d meet in a day. I felt less pressure to remember everyone’s name perfectly after that!
Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?
At our larger EOS facility in Pflugerville, Texas, we’ve had a really special engagement with the Girl Scouts of Central Texas and are planning some continued engagement with them in the future. More recently, they came to our facility after EOS donated 3D printed hand pieces for an event called “Helping Hands – A STEM Service Project,” an event where Girl Scouts of all ages are invited to assemble prosthetic hands from parts made by 3D printers. The prosthetic hands will be donated to people in need through a nonprofit group called e-NABLE, a non-profit that matches 3D-printed prosthetics to people in need of upper-limb devices both in our community and around the world.
EOS is committed to introducing women in STEM fields and the future workforce, more broadly, to 3D printing technology so there will be more events like this to come!
What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?
One of EOS’s recent cases studies from the Polish company Glaze Prosthetics is a great example of the impactful use of 3D printing on patients’ daily life. Glaze Prosthetics makes a fully customized prosthetic arm that allows people unlimited options to create unique limbs that fit their specific needs. These prostheses are fully printed on the EOS P 396 system.
From your perspective, what are some game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing has vast potential to compete in the more than trillion dollar traditional machine tool industry but we must close the gap between those who think the technology is for prototype versus those who think it is for production. EOS has been pushing the envelope by engineering machines and axillary systems geared toward the production environment and automation. All machines that EOS makes now and in the future are automation ready, meaning that industrial 3D printing will happen with and by EOS machines. It’s never been easier to build parts with 3D printing technology and it’s the advancements that make automation possible that are the most exciting. Advanced laser sintering systems with a larger build platform and capabilities for material handling that doesn’t require human manipulation are the next frontier that EOS is on. It’s amazing how we’re able to make these advancements in technology to advance our industry while still maintaining the highest quality standard possible.
What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:
- As an engineer?
As an engineer, I think additive manufacturing is fascinating because it tends to open up additional creative possibilities. I remember joking in the past with other engineering friends that I used to be creative until I was limited by engineering design rules, which really, are dictated by traditional manufacturing techniques. While there are different types of design rules with additive manufacturing, you really can open up creatively in a new way by using a layer-by-layer process. It’s another tool in your toolbox to help make a design surgeon’s wishes come true when designing new medical devices.
- As a woman?
I don’t tend to separate these two parts of myself. I am an engineer and a woman at the same time – it’s a “both and” situation.
What do you think of the 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?
I think the 3D printing industry begun to be taken seriously over the past few years with big players like GE and HP getting involved. I would like to see it grow as an even bigger part of the traditional machine tool industry.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
I recently had a blast being on an “Ask an Engineer” panel EOS hosted for young women exploring their future careers in Austin. In my opinion, it’s important for elementary and high school students to see women in their work environment as engineers and have time with them to talk candidly. In these environments, students can see and hear first-hand the varied and exciting opportunities engineering and 3D printing can bring to your career and life. I also think it’s important to mentor younger engineers in the workforce by sharing experiences and strategies, as well as help them form ideas of what their career direction might look like and steps to make it happen. Interestingly, some recent statistics from the Catalyst, Quick Take: Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) show there are more women than ever graduating in STEM fields, but women tend to leave technology fields after ten years into their careers. I think one important step to keep women in technical fields is to encourage corporate cultures which support the diverse types of family life present in our diverse culture. Sometimes this needs to be led by example at executive leadership level, but it can also be the “grass roots” type efforts within teams. This way of working is good for all of us, not only women.
What is your favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material, etc.)? Mini Magics
Favorite part of your day job? Helping customers solve their problems.
What’s on your 3D Printing wish list for the next 5 years? Industrial bioprinting intrigues me, but it is more likely 10 years away.
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview? Stephanie Kochback.
Thank you for reading and for sharing!