Jun 8, 2021
How is it to be a woman in STEM studying Electrical Engineering in the earlies 2000 Tel-Aviv?
During the early 2000’ I was studying Chemical Engineering. During MSc and BSc, I hadn’t felt any imbalance between female and male students, it was more or less equal. However, when advancing towards Ph.D., and moving to an even more “male-oriented” field, such as electrical engineering, the number of female students was scarce. Nevertheless, I had a great opportunity to work with leading-edge scientists and researchers in the field of nanomaterials.
How come that you ended up working in Stratasys?
During my Ph.D. studies, I heard a lecture about PolyJet Technology and 3D printing, given by Stratasys Materials Director (formerly known as Objet Geometries Ltd). This was the first time I encountered the term additive manufacturing and the limitless possibilities it holds. I was fascinated by the ability to create new materials and new chemistry in a printer and not in a lab. The tight interactions between chemistry and physics are exciting and challenging at the same time. After that lecture, I told myself, that this is the industry where I wanted to work after graduating. Today, I can say that this is a wish come true.
Why did you decide to take part in INKplant?
This project is exciting on a technological level. Integrating several completely different materials into one inkjet system is complex both from the engineering and scientific sides. The challenge would be to create a suitable printing environment for the different ink types that would require the expertise of all the partners in this project. The impact this project may have on the healthcare applications of the 3D printing industry is a revolution. The possibility to directly print a fully functional medical device that is both customizable and composed of various materials with different functionally would open the opportunity to affordable, high-level care to various populations.
You and your team are developing an innovative 3D printing process within INKplant. What does it consist of? How is it different from other existing printing processes?
Within INKplant we are developing a novel printing process for silicone material. Up to date, there are no silicone materials that can be ink-jetted due to the high viscosity of silicones. In this project, we will develop a tailored system equipped with new print heads allowing higher viscosities, and a new printing process. The printing process might include illumination with different light sources, such as LEDs of different wavelengths and IR lamps. In addition, the process may include a dedicated drop deposition sequence to allow optimal mixing of different formulations on tray. In parallel, together with Elkem, we will develop silicone chemistry that will be adjusted to system requirements, in a way that both, system and chemistry complement each other.
You are also working on a new Silicone material, why is it interesting? What are the properties or characteristics that make it unique?
Silicone rubber is a high-performance material due to its unique properties, such as high thermal resistance, chemical stability, electrical insulation, abrasion resistance, and excellent elastic properties. Due to these properties, silicone is used in many engineering applications as aviation, electronics, energy, construction and architecture, and many more. Moreover, silicone is biocompatible, hypoallergenic, bio durable — all necessary characteristics for use in health care applications. The combination of this unique material with additive manufacturing abilities to create complex geometries will allow patient-customized medical solutions unavailable today.
What other products do you think could be developed thanks to the expertise INKplant will provide to Stratasys?
Stratasys is collaborating with other partners to develop ink that requires a unique environment in order to be printed. The knowledge that would be gained in system modification and inkjet processes optimization will open new opportunities for Stratasys to develop other inks based on advanced chemistries.