Noel Olivia Maria is a bio engineer. She was born with a congenital heart disease, which is the reason that, without realizing it, got her interested in 3D printing and bio engineering, where the conjunction of both fields allows generating solutions to people and children who suffer from this type of congenital malformation. In her province, the percentage of girls and boys born with this condition is high and solutions are needed. With this condition from birth, she has the motivation to constantly train herself in advancing additive manufacturing, with the purpose of placing this technology at the service of human health, generating a positive impact on medical processes for the continuous improvement of quality of life.

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

I am a bio-engineer and a technological entrepreneurial woman. In my business, bio-engineering and additive manufacturing are combined, 3D printed biomodels are manufactured and different parts are also designed at the customer’s request. It led me to 3D printing the need to contribute solutions in the area of medical sciences using the knowledge acquired in Bioengineering.

Can you describe your very first experience with 3D Printing? 

My first experience with 3D printing was to make a haptic glove for the final thesis work of my Bioengineering degree. 

Can you tell us a bit more about the biomodels you are designing? What are they for? What 3D printing process do you use, and why? 

Biomodels are exact replicas of third-dimensional anatomical structures made from medical images such as computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. Where malformations, congenital diseases, tumors are reproduced,  they contribute to a new way to ratify diagnoses, optimize treatments and strengthen the academic.

The advantages of using 3D Biomodels are multiple, among which the following stand out:

  • Test the surgical intervention, which allows the surgeon to foresee failures, increase safety and reduce the effective time of the operating room.
  • Replicate unique malformations.
  • Students from different branches of medical sciences learn the surgical technique before being in contact with a human body. That is, they are intended to train students or professionals who need to deepen in the fields of surgery.

The design starts from a volumetric image of computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging, and then a processing is carried out to convert it into an .STL format that is recognized by the 3D printer. It is printed using different 3d printing technologies: FDM, SLA, SLS

You are also Women in 3D Printing La Rioja (Argentina)’s ambassador. What can you tell us about La Rioja’s community? What makes it unique? 

The Province of La Rioja located northwest of the Argentine Republic, a province that makes it unique due to the warmth of its inhabitants.

The careers that young people traditionally choose are social careers such as law, writing, accountant, etc. as well as medicine, nursing and others. Currently, the percentage of young people who choose engineering careers as professional training is low.

In terms of 3D printing, the percentage is high of inhabitants who have not knowledge about the existence of this technology and the great variety of benefits that it has for the community of the province, especially in economic development.

 It is a community that shows little interest in additive manufacturing technology, as a consequence of the aforementioned.

Why did you decide to become a Women in 3D Printing ambassador? 

La Rioja is a province of 300,000 inhabitants where the total of these is very little the percentage of people who have access to and knowledge of 3D printing technologies. The rate of women who can access information on additive manufacturing is especially low. Which brings me to the need for more women to have access and knowledge about this new technology.

To date, what would you say is your greatest achievement in Additive Manufacturing? 

Designing Biomodels of patients who have some infrequent pathology and which is necessary to study to plan surgically and also to be used by students of different branches of medicine.

Do you have any (fun or not) story about your career to share with us? 

The most fun and I think that happens to most people when they hear about 3D printing for the first time, is to believe that print on a sheet of paper that is to say that relate to the 2D printer.

Have you run into any challenges from being a female biomodel designer in 3D Printing? 

I continually face different challenges, from being a woman in engineering, bioengineer, until first bioengineer professional of the province, which is anew and very little known profession, and added to the above is to carry out an innovative products and services entrepreneurship that generate triple impact on the province of la Rioja.

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

Recently I started a master’s degree in chemical sciences where research on the use of 3d printing in the pharmaceutical field will be carried out.

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

The use of bio-printers for the manufacture of organs, tissues and medicines

What do you consider game-changing technologies in Additive Manufacturing?

The 3D printing technology, which uses metal as a material, especially titanium, is a technology that will revolutionize the industry, especially in the realization of prosthetic customized to the need of each patient’s pathology. I think that it would also be extremely necessary to have this type of technology in the hospitals.

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

  •  As a designer? 

As a designer, be able to provide solutions in the medical and hospital area where, with a small investment, proposals can be generated that are available and tailored to all patients.

  •  As a woman?

Breaking down the barriers that stop women who are engaged in additive manufacturing technology.

What do you think of the 3D printing industry today?

It is a field that is constantly evolving and is used in different areas where they generate solutions to different industry problems

And how would you like to see it evolve? 

Tests for the generation of different organs and tissues began to be carried out in several countries.

Which I would like to see the evolution of additive manufacturing in this field, in order to reduce until we eliminate the problems generated by the shortage of organs available for transplants, that through the use of 3D printing technology different organs and tissues can be bio-printed adapted to the need for the pathology of each patient

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

In my province, it should first be known about additive manufacturing technology. Subsequently generate digital inclusion programs for women where they are taught the basic knowledge, the different uses and benefits of 3D printing technology. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate activities to attract women to the world of additive manufacturing technology and empower them in the area of ​​technology.

I am part of the WED (Women’s Entrepreneurship Day) La Rioja team, where in 2018 and 2019, the motto was to promote the participation of women in the area of technology and innovation. 

Where I participate as a panelist entrepreneur, telling my experience and promoting the culture of technological entrepreneurship in the province of La Rioja. 

Favorite 3D tool (could be a software, machine, material…you name it)? 

FDM Ultimaker printer, Fusion 360 software, are my favorite and necessary tools

Favorite moment in your day job? 

When a print is finished correctly, without errors and inconveniences. As well as, meet the needs tailored to the client using the different 3D tools

What’s on your 3D Printing wishlist for the next 5 years? 

Generate an additive manufacturing laboratory in the province, where women in the province can be empowered in technology. Learn the management and use of Bio-printers, also generate Biotintas for them.

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