In this interview, meet Philipp Hündorf (Head of Manufacturing) and Arpita Desai (Head of Quality Management), part of the Manufacturing team at BellaSeno GmbH (Leipzig, Germany), winner of the 2018 RegMedNet Award for Cultivating Excellence.
Please introduce yourself
Philipp Hündorf (PH): My name is Philipp Hündorf, I am 28 years old and was born and raised in the wonderful city of Magdeburg, Germany, where I also graduated as a Mechatronics Engineer. During my studies I spent a semester abroad in England, working in an engineering office, completed my Bachelor thesis at SIEMENS and was a scientific assistant at the research campus STIMULATE, where I also did my final master project. Throughout this journey I fully enjoyed the good times of being a student.
After graduating, my fiancÃ©e and I moved to our new home town Leipzig. My first job led me to the sports car manufacturer Porsche (Stuttgart, Germany) where I was part of the factory automation team. I gained good insights of how things are done there but in order to make better use of my skills I decided to start working at BellaSeno. Since March 2018 I have been part of the international team of BellaSeno as the Head of Manufacturing.
Arpita Desai (AD): I am Arpita Desai, I am 24 years old, Master in Biomedical Engineering and Head of Quality Management at BellaSeno GmbH. I was born and brought up in Vadodara, India. Engineering and technological concepts were always attractive to me, but what I was precisely looking for was their application in a greater aspect of life. Biomedical engineering was not that poplar in India during my high school days, but it was an exclusive article about Biomedical Engineering in student magazine that introduced me to this career opportunity.
By the time I was done reading this interesting new career option, its prospects and applications, I was determined from that very moment to be one. I did my Bachelor from Government Engineering College, Gandhinagar, part of Gujarat State University (India). While the education was excellent in India for this, there were very few research opportunities. I did take the possible research opportunities in bachelor project and I knew that I wanted more of it! Thus, I moved to Germany the years ago to pursue my masters from Martin Luther University Halle (Germany).
Why did you come to work at BellaSeno GmbH? What excited you by the company?
PH: You may wonder why I left Porsche only to begin working at a startup. There are multiple reasons. One is the way of how work is done. In a big company things are mostly settled. I was given a specific task and that was it. The lines of responsibilities were very clear and not meant to be crossed even out of candid interest. For me that meant in a short time I learnt what I had to do but was given no chance to look outside the little box in order to develop new knowledge and keep progressing with my career.
At BellaSeno this is the polar opposite. Here the tasks are very diverse and I am learning new things every day. It was a bit risky to leave the safe harbor of Porsche but it was with no doubt worth it. I have been given a lot of responsibility and my career made a huge leap forward. This trust in me motivates me to give it my best every day. BellaSeno also invests in my knowledge by providing me training; for example, as well as managing the production, it is in my charter of responsibilities to make the work environment safe as the Safety Officer.
AD: Due to my keen interest in research and the innovative field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, I worked on a skin regeneration project developing artificial polymer skin tissues and testing their biocompatibility. By the time I was about to defend my thesis, I was already looking for future prospects in the similar area. It was quite challenging to find the appropriate job in Germany without being fluent in German. In spite of cracking a few job opportunities, I was looking for a project or company where I could sense the similar passion for healthcare as mine and a unique friendly work environment, with broader exposure to keep me motivated and inspired for work of my interest. I know it is too much to ask for from your first job, in a foreign land! But well, if you don’t dream big, you’ll never achieve big!
At BellaSeno, working with exciting 3D printing technology for developing scaffolds to help the patients who had suffered from breast cancer, I have it all! The reason was good enough to justify my initial aim of being a biomedical engineer and I didn’t think twice about my decision to choose working for BellaSeno. It offered everything I was expecting in my first job and even more with such an amazing team of co-workers and an inspiring leader. It’s been a year now and without any doubt, it is an exceptional kick start for my professional career after university.
What part do you play in the team?
PH: As the Head of Manufacturing I manage what and when something is 3D printed. For that we work in very close collaboration with the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology (based only 100m away from our offices)(Leipzig, Germany). Through the Fraunhofer we have access to their excellent cleanroom facilities and laboratories. At the moment I am establishing a manufacturing training regimen for the cleanroom staff. In the future we envision that I will not print on a daily basis anymore but give guidance to the technicians and make sure that we meet our production targets.
My other project is to improve our 3D printing technology. The experience I make while using our 3D printers directly influences how our “3D printer of the future” has to look like and what functionalities it needs to have. In this regard, together with our working students my role is to procure and deploy new sensors and test their reliability. Besides that sometimes I also act as a helpful link between my colleagues (hailing from five different nationalities) and the famous German bureaucracy.
AD: Based on my background of master thesis, my main role initially was developing 3D printing parameters and methods to produce breast scaffolds and handling the projects of plasma postprocessing on the breast scaffolds. Besides this, I was at that time also responsible for developing quality assurance system for scaffolds. While managing these tasks, we understood that the quality management system will need complete time and focus, considering the fact that we were start-up, straight out of academia. As a result, after one year, I am responsible for the total quality management system and the projects for postproduction processing, such as plasma treatment, gamma sterilization and microCT analysis.
What are the challenges you face?
PH: Figuring out how to manage all the different tasks can be challenging. The plan one makes today can be meaningless if new problems are discovered the following day. Thinking ahead is therefore very important and not the easiest thing to do. I also have to find the right partners for our “3D printer of the future”. This starts already with determining the optimal print-head for our needs and gets more complicated when taking into account the visual measurements of the quality of the printed part. We are striving for speed, quality and efficiency. Solutions which sometimes sound promising on paper can turn out to be more problematic than imagined when implemented in practice.
AD: Most of our working team, including myself, comes straight from university or academia; this is a challenge in the aspects of developing the thinking and mentality of people while transitioning from university to an industrial market.
For example, within an academic setting, one doesn’t need to worry about the writing everything they do in an official templates or thinking of possible risks and its solutions in advance. Universities are more enthusiastic and focused on breakthrough innovations whereas once you are in industry, everything needs to be process-driven and meticulous.
It took lot of effort for me to understand how much more organized, structured and streamlined the work needs to be when developing the systems or process in a company. A bigger challenge was to impart this idea of importance of quality management system to the rest of the team.
Of course, it’s always easier to deal with the challenges when you have such an amazingly supportive and friendly team of coworkers.
Can you tell us about something you’ve been proud of?
PH: I’ve just joined the company this year and I have already managed to make significant breakthroughs transitioning our 3D printer tech towards a volumetric dispensing principle. Alongside that I’ve made promising contacts with many well-known players of various industry fields to provide us with the right solutions for our needs. The yet unknown picture of the 3D printer we are aiming towards is slowly becoming more and more clear. I cannot wait to have our own production site with all the features and functionalities we’ve thought of today up and running. This will clearly leave our mark within the whole AM world.
AD: One of the major reasons I chose to work for BellaSeno was the broader exposure through different areas and phases of project. It was quite challenging to manage completely diverse multiple responsibilities efficiently within limited time obviously. It was remarkably proud moment for me when I was appreciated for managing each of these intellectually diverse responsibilities with similar efficiency for each one of them, meeting the timelines.
Putting the new patent worthy designs with innovative internal architectures into reality by 3D printing them was another thing I was always excited about. Besides this, quality management wasn’t my expertise area and as a start up everything was to be developed from scratch, thus when external auditors and consultants gave extremely positive feedback about the first phase of developed system, I was quite happy.