In the last few decades, the 4th industrial revolution began - a significant advance in the 3D technology and an emerging of a brand new production method - the computer-controlled additive/subtractive manufacturing. It is considered "the new wheel" and it gives the ability to generate a detailed three dimensional object with complicated geometry from various materials (metals, polymers, clay, biological macro molecules) with a robot, controlled by a computer. The size of the object don't really matters - it's possible to construct structures on micron level or entire buildings. The thing, which really matters, is the geometry of the model. The specialists in the 3D technology are able to bend the very fabric of the world in every shape, which is needed. In the medical field, this advancement of the 3D technology was combined with the rise of the computer-assisted imaging and the histological imaging techniques , visualizing the living (or already death) organisms in details, never seen before. This is how the profession of the medical 3D artist emerged, giving new hope and amazing possibilities for the presentation, diagnostics and treatment of the human body. It's a hybrid profession, which requires vast knowledge and experience in the medical, engineering and computer science. If you want to become one and you're wondering can you actually sell your work, this guide will be quite helpful for you.
As any other type of scientists, medical 3D artists have to choose his career path. It can lead to a career as academical professor, teaching students and performing theoretical experiments at a university or a science institute or as a industrial R&D specialist, creating practical products for the biomedical corporations. Both career options have their pros and cons, bot of them are saving lives. The difference is in the way of thinking. And the salary. For both of them the entrance requirement is a PhD in the field life or engineering science. So, in order to become a medical 3D artist, you need to go in the academy for a while, to endure the hell of the dissertation/thesis and to keep your sanity at the end. Once achieved, it's really hard to stay unemployed for long, those pesky talent seekers will jump on you like flies on manure.
1. Academical: The academical lives and thrives in his/hers institution. An office, a laboratory, some teaching obligations and the ability to work in the most cutting-edge fields of science and technology.
- More flexibility/freedom: the academical have a lot of free time, as long as the basic obligations towards the institution are satisfied.
- Intellectual autonomy: the academical can follow whatever idea he/she wants, as long as it's supported by the institution.
- Long term results: the academical things and acts in long period of time - one project can take an year, several year or the entire lifespan, depending on the project.
- Funding/salary issues: the academical is always underfunded and the salary sucks (unless he/she is well quoted, successful professor). This is why the problem-solving abilities and the high IQ are required for this career path.
- Strong ego and self-confidence: the academical things for themselves as geniuses, much smarter than the rest of the population (and in most cases they are right).
- Always “speaks theoretically”: the question "what if" is the breath and butter of the academia and it's really hard for the academical to be practical.
2. Industrial R&D specialist: the industrial scientist works in a office or a warehouse, with a team of other specialists, under the supervision of a project manager. He/she develops practical products, which have to be sellable and they have to be developed fast.
- More constrained (deadlines): the usual industrial project takes several months, under strict supervision and have to satisfy the needs of the marketing department. The deadlines are an issue here.
- Produces a practical product: the product have a practical, well defined application, shape, quality requirements and price.
- Pays a lot more: the salaries of the industrial R&D have an additional zero at the end.
- No funding issues: the industrial projects have more than adequate budget and they can receive an additional funding, if needed.
- No ego issues – “it’s just a job” - for the industrial specialist, the work is just a meaning for living. A job, as good as any other job. No "special missions" here.
- Literally “saves the world”: the products of the industry are used as practical applications and are used for diagnostics and treatment on everyday basis.
Professional levels: As any other profession, the medical 3D artist goes through several stages, each one with higher requirements and possibilities.
- Jobber: the lowest level of them all. A sporadic odd jobs, for a low salary, for whoever is willing to pay. This is the first level, which a wannabe medical 3d artist reach and the level, on which most of them stay. Only those, who can achieve the necessary discipline, business ethics and quality can reach the next level. The jobbers are unpredictable, chaotic, they can hardly satisfy the deadlines and they offer the lowest quality possible. Every medical 3D artist in training is also a jobber.
- Freelancer: the selective few, who are talented and discipline enough to be able to offer NDA, contract, quote statement, production method description and industrial quality control. Those are the medical 3D artists, who doesn't suck, but wants to be free and flexible enough to follow their other interests. The freelancer is hired from companies and institution, which can't support a full-job 3d artist or their specialist are not competent enough to make the job done. A proud, well-respected person, working under strict business ethics, for fixed pay rate, usually calculated per hour or per item. The freelancer works on small projects, for a limited period of time and under well-defined condition, written on an official contract. Every professional medical 3D artist is also a freelancers. The reputation have a big importance in this group, which is why the freelancers are considered predictable, disciplined and competent to do any task, thrown at them. The salary here depends on the negotiating skills of the freelancer.
To be continued