Materialise leads the 3D printing revolution

Technology – with an air of magic to it…


I produced a report for Monocle24 on one of the leading forces behind the 3D printing industry: the Belgian company Materialise. Press play and scroll down to have a read!  

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Additive Manufacturing, better known as 3D printing, is making its mark on production processes worldwide. The idea that you can print out any object, tool or gadget you need is inspiring businesses, and driving a 1.4 billion euro industry.

In a special report on the topic of 3D printing, the British magazine The Economist discussed the possibilities of this new technology, while casting a light on what impact it has on industry today.

Though people in the field remain sceptical of The Economist‘s prospect of a “third industrial revolution”, it’s clear that 3D printing is having a great influence on various markets, from car manufacturing over the medical industry to the world of art and fashion.

One of the driving forces in this industry is the Belgian company Materialise. They’ve been around since 1990, about a year after the first 3D printer was launched.

Led by CEO Wilfried Vancraen – a somewhat shy but visionary businessman – the company managed to stay on top of the industry for two decades. They’ve also spread across the globe, with offices in the US, Malaysia or Japan.

Today, they collaborate with designers, enabling new forms of expression; they create the next generation of medical tools; and they are world leader in developing the software that drives 3D printing.

To give some examples of what happens at their headquarters: Materialise produces ‘guides’ for surgeons to conduct operations, in which they make use of CT scans to produce instruments or replica’s of body parts, unique to any patient and any operation.

That’s the power of this technology, Vancraen and others at Materialise stress: in markets that require unique pieces, 3D printing caters to the needs.

The medical sector, the arts industry, or prototyping for large scale productions are areas where Additive Manufacturing is pushing for groundbreaking change.

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Have a listen to my report for Monocle24‘s weekly programme on business and entrepreneurship, The Entrepreneurs. The report was first broadcasted on 5 December 2012. 

It’s only a part of the total picture (as a report often is), since there’s a lot to tell about the future and possibilities of 3D printing. Let me have your thoughts on @laurenscerulus!


About laurenscerulus

AKA reporter for Deutsche Welle, The Independent, Monocle24... AKA editor @ FKA trainee journalist @ BBC World Service, Monocle, De Morgen, MO* FKA foreign editor @ Veto student newspaper, Belgium. FKA student of modern history @ KULeuven | international relations @ UCLouvain.

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