Dr. Mayra Vasques is founder of iNNOV3D an EdTech company focused on supporting and training teachers and universities in Healthcare for the innovative and efficient use of 3D Technologies. The company was founded based on the belief that the best innovative solutions in healthcare will emerge from professionals that are raised familiar with technology and for this, the institutions must be prepared for these professionals. She started in the additive manufacturing field in 2015, during her PhD Fellow at School of Dentistry at the University of Sao Paulo, where she led a project in additive manufacturing for the development of occlusal splints for patients with orofacial pain. Since then she has been involved in several AM research projects and as panelist in conferences. She is deeply involved in creating a positive and more accessible local ecosystem in Brazil for digital technology and AM, working for local community building associated with international organizations such as ”Women in 3D Printing” and “3DHeals”.
Mayra, could you let us know about your background and what brought you to 3D printing in the first place?
I´m a dentist and I started looking into additive manufacturing during my PhD Fellow in 2015. I was looking for a technology that could help turning the treatment of orofacial in a less painful and more precise procedure. One of the most used treatments is the use of oral splints, and I heard about the use of additive manufacturing for medical devices, so I decided to test clinically the viability of this technique, printing the oral splints.
Can you describe your very first experience with 3D Printing?
When I decided to start 3d printing the splints, there were practically no equipment in Brazil to do it. The companies launching the specific materials for long-term intraoral use are in the US and Europe and there was no perspective to be launched one the Brazilian market anytime soon. This was a challenge for me to continues the project. First I studied as much as possible about all the technologies available and then I decided to go to the US to buy a printer and all the supplies necessary. I was already in love with all the possibilities of 3D printing.
What are some of the dentistry applications for 3D Printing? Out of which materials?
There are a lot of dental applications for 3D printing. Considering the traditional techniques, most of them could be replaced by 3D Printing. In Dentistry, we focus on precision, reproducibility and customization, and these are some of 3D printing´s strengths. To achieve the best potential for 3D printing in dentistry, the key is the development and improvement of materials for intraoral use, especially the polymers and ceramic material.
What are some of today’s challenges?
In my opinion, the two main problems we are facing nowadays are material development and education/training. It´s important to have established and safe protocols tested and approved to have professional and patients support for the technique and we cannot neglect the learning curve for every new user.
You are also Women in 3D Printing Sao Paulo’s ambassador. What can you tell us about Sao Paulo’s community?
Sao Paulo is certainly the center of technology and innovation in Brazil, where everything starts prior to spread for the entire country, it was expected to start the community from here and, even Brazil being a huge country, the Women in 3D Printing Community reached more than 120 participants from all parts of the country in less than 1 year.
What makes it unique?
As it happened with me, most people here were fronting the challenges of adopting new technology and innovate by themselves, mainly the women. The initiatives that focus on the building a community where people could support each other and grow faster and smoothly were really a necessity.
Why did you decide to become a Women in 3D Printing ambassador?
First time I realized that the user´s life (and mine) in 3D printing was harder because there wasn´t a mature market here in Brazil I decided to help in building a more favorable ecosystem here, connecting people, sharing knowledge. It was difficult to find other women in conferences or discussion groups, and it´s amazing to know now, that I´m an ambassador, that we have so many women here developing incredible research and companies in 3D printing field.
To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing?
I finished my PhD thesis, the second in Brazil using 3d printing in dentistry clinically, I´m building communities locally (Women in 3D Printing, 3Dheals, Odonto3D Meetup) and sharing knowledge by training dentist/universities.
Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career to share with us?
My first 3D print was not exactly what I was expecting, as I was really anxious to have one print finished as fast as possible, so I printed an object with less than 10% of its real size resulting in a mandibular arch sized less than 1cm. It was funny and exciting because it was ridiculously small and really precise at the same time.
Have you run into any challenges from being a woman in 3D Printing?
I didn´t face a big challenge but it´s usual to have more opportunities for men in projects or as a conference speaker. Sometimes I hear some men´s joke as “they play about printing in pink filament” but I believe that the results of serious work are the best answer for it.
What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?
I believe the next generation of healthcare professionals, that will be raised inside this technological and innovative environment will really build the game-changing results.
In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?
Since I began being an Wi3DP ambassador I met so many amazing projects developed by women that faced their difficulties and are now impacting the society. I think that sharing this with more and more women, promoting networking and supporting their jobs could be a great way to encourage them.
Favorite 3D tool? CAD Software
Favorite moment in your day job? To build a brand new solution using 3D printing
What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? Life changes so fast, and 5 years nowadays are like eternity. I wish I continue open-minded for an innovative future
Another inspiring woman you’d like us to interview? Janaína Dernowsek. Janaína develops an amazing work in bioprinting and Edtech area. She is the pioneer in Bioprinting in Brazil and in the world.