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Jules Poukens

November 11, 2012

Filed under: 3D printing,life — Terry Wohlers @ 17:33

Dr. Jules Poukens, a cranio-maxillofacial surgeon in Belgium, is known for his ground-breaking work in additive manufacturing. I have heard him speak on several occasions, mostly in Europe. A presentation he gave in South Africa a few years ago was astounding. He showed video footage of himself implanting a relatively large titanium cranial plate made by additive manufacturing. I was “blown away” by the work and video.

Most recently, Dr. Poukens is credited with his work as the lead surgeon and lead designer of the world’s first mandible (lower jaw) replacement. He showed some of the complex operation on September 21 at the iCAT 2012 conference in Maribor, Slovenia. Once again, I was awed by his work and presentation. He explained that the woman patient had lost her ability to speak, and on the day following the surgery, they couldn’t shut her up.

Dr. Poukens and I met after the conference for a cold adult beverage. He is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet. He generously shares his knowledge and experience with the engineering and manufacturing community and does not elevate himself, which cannot be said about many American surgeons. I have a great deal of respect for them and their work, but I rarely see them at an educational event on additive manufacturing and 3D printing.

The world needs more people like Dr. Poukens. His pioneering work brings together the worlds of medicine and manufacturing technology. The only way we can seize vast opportunities in biomedical science, such as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, is to get doctors and engineers together in the same room for deep discussions and debates. Dr. Poukens is a perfect example of this collaborative spirit.