Consumer ProductsExecutive InterviewsMedical AMPersonalized Medicine

Johnson & Johnson’s multifaceted world of 3D printing

Sam Onukuri, Head of the 3D Printing Center of Excellence, tells us about J&J's newest product and more

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Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical, medical and consumer goods company that has been in operation for over a century, clearly understands what its target markets want. In the consumer goods arena, the company recently demonstrated just how well it is meeting these wants with the unveiling of its most personalized skincare product ever, the Neutrogena MaskiD. At the cutting edge of the beauty tech sector, the MaskiD combines Neutrogena Skin 360 technology with 3D printing to offer ultra-customized facial care.

The mask, recently presented at CES 2019, has understandably garnered a fair amount of buzz, both from the beauty industry and the tech world. From our perspective, the announcement was particularly exciting because it gave us a glimpse into some of the work being done at Johnson & Johnson’s 3D Printing Center of Excellence.

3D Printing Center of Excellence

Headed by Sam Onukuri, the 3D Printing Center of Excellence works with all three sectors of Johnson & Johnson’s business: medical devices, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods. Though we’ve seen the launch of 3D printed medical devices from the company, the MaskiD marks the first major launch for a consumer product developed at the center.

Johnson & Johnson Onukuri interview

As Onukuri tells us: “We have other products in the pipeline, but this is one of the first ones which culminated in the commercial space. We have similar types of solutions that leverage 3D printing technology in play.”

“I think it’s really an exciting time,” he adds. “It definitely marks a continuation of enabling innovation by using the technology across our businesses, on the medical device side, the pharma side and the consumer side. It’s exciting to see that in the consumer space, 3D printing can bring innovation and bring value to the customer.”

Introducing the MaskiD

In the simplest terms, the Neutrogena MaskiD is a sheet mask. But that’s not what makes the product exciting—it’s what goes into producing the mask. The first step invites the customer to photograph their face using a smartphone 3D camera. Based on this photo, a multi-dimensional map of the user’s face is generated and a mask shape is created.

Johnson & Johnson Onukuri interview

Next, personalized data from the Neutrogena Skin 360 technology (unveiled at CES 2018) is analyzed to create a different type of map of the face, one which determines different areas of need for the skin. Lastly, a proprietary 3D printing process is employed to deposit a range of different ingredients onto the laser-cut hydrogel mask, offering a face treatment customized to the consumer’s skin.

“Personalization is one of the features that customers want,” Onukuri says. “And 3D printing technology is able to do a very effective job of personalizing products. Based on this technology, we are able to deliver a custom product for consumers in a very fast and efficient manner.”

The technology behind the custom sheet mask was developed by the Johnson & Johnson 3D Printing Center of Excellence team at the University of North Florida. “We have a lot of great partnerships,” Onukuri explains. “We’ve worked with partners on the academic side as well as the industry side. One of the academic partnerships is a collaborative lab at the University of North Florida, which helped us in bringing this mask to life.”

Johnson & Johnson Onukuri interview

The patent-pending sheet mask will be sold exclusively through Neutrogena’s website in the United States starting in Q3 2019.

“We are working with the commercial organization to figure out where the true consumer need is and then extending the same technology used for the mask to come up with other product solutions,” Onukuri adds.

Med tech & pharma

Looking beyond the innovative MaskiD product, Onukiri reveals that the J&J 3D Printing Center of Excellence is working on a number of other projects and products to fulfill needs in the consumer, medical and pharmaceutical spaces.

“There is a lot in the pipeline with respect to all these spaces,” he says. “In the medical device space, we have customized instrumentation for orthopaedics, some of which have been launched already.

Johnson & Johnson Onukuri interview

“I’m also truly excited about the potential of personalized medicine in pharmaceuticals. We’re working on using the technology to bring more personalized medicine to market, whether it’s for specific diseases or a specific patient. And finally, consumer beauty is a big area for us, and the mask is one of the first things we have out of the pipeline. But we also have oral care and other areas that will bring 3D innovation.”

Bioprinting is the future

In the future, Onukiri sees some of the biggest potential for 3D printing within J&J in the bioprinting sphere.

“There are the few areas which are definitely moving along, but longer term we see bioprinting as an area which will continue to drive and bring a lot more innovation,” he elaborates. “I think that will definitely be a big drive for 3D printing.”

Aside from bioprinting, the J&J 3D printing head also highlights the advancement of medical devices. In this area, he sees potential growth in bringing the technology and solutions closer to physicians and hospitals to improve personalized patient care.

“Overall, it’s good to see that a company like J&J, which is really broad, is able to take a technology like 3D printing and deliver solutions, whether its for medical devices, for pharma or in the consumer space. It’s really exciting to see it happening and to be a part of it,” Onukiri concludes.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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