The Materialise World Conference was held last week in Brussels, with more than 1,000 people in attendance. A high caliber group of customers, partners, and others attended the two-day event. The conference coincided with the opening of a museum exhibition at the Bozar Center for Fine Arts. The exhibition is open until June 7 and consists of four rooms filled with an impressive array of 3D-printed parts and products—all from Materialise. I spent about 90 minutes at the exhibition, and could have spent much more time there.
Materialise is celebrating its 25th year in business, and now employs 1,250 people in 16 offices worldwide. The company has 8,000 software installations to its credit and has produced 146,000 medical devices. It currently prints ~1,500 laser-sintered parts and ~500 stereolithography and FDM parts every day for customers worldwide.
Last week, Hoet Eyewear and Materialise announced the commercialization of new 3D-printed eyeglass frames. The products currently available for sale are standard designs, but custom-fit frames are coming soon. In fact, Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen was wearing custom-fit frames at the conference. The Hoet products are beautifully designed by Bieke Hoet and manufactured and finished to perfection by Materialise.
RS Print and Materialise announced the commercialization of custom insoles based on biomechanics. I went through the ordering process by walking across a special scanning plate to capture the details of my feet and how I walk. Special software is used to perform detailed analysis based on extensive R&D in collaboration with Materialise. The insoles are then 3D-printed and delivered to the customer.
Materialise has taken additive manufacturing to a new level. It very carefully targets a market and then goes after it with care and great attention to detail. The company currently 3D prints 3,500 custom surgical guides each month. It is also manufacturing many other types of products that you may not hear about or see unless you visit the company. With its AS9100 quality certification, Materialise is now targeting the aerospace industry.
I was surprised by the progress the company has made since my last visit in June 2013. Materialise is, without question, among the most advanced and impressive AM companies anywhere. My sincere congratulations for 25 years of meaningful innovation, a successful World Conference, and remarkable progress over the past two years.