The Warsaw Voice » Business » Monthly - October 27, 2017
Business & Economy
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Printing before production
An interview with Piotr Adamczewski, Director at Materialise S.A., located in Bielany Wrocławskie by Anna Nowaczyk

You have 17 branches around the world, but only 5 of them include production facilities. You've just opened your first 3D printing factory facility in Poland, near Wrocław. Why there? Who consumes your products?
The universality of 3D printing means that our products are found practically everywhere. We have sales offices in Columbia, Brazil, Australia, Malaysia, China, Japan, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, England and Ukraine. Our production plants are located in the USA, Belgium, Germany and the Czech Republic. And now Poland has joined them. We are active both when it comes to the industrial sector automotive, aviation, household appliances, processing and plastics, as well as the medical and design industries. We service large corporations all around the world. However, we also cater for private customers. Lately we have been the largest supplier of printed parts for the aviation industry. There are two ways to order our products: using an on-site platform or by contacting a sales engineer. It is our mission to work towards a better and healthier world. And that is why, the arms industry is the only area where we are not active.

Materialise is growing as a global company, constantly searching for new markets. Poland constitutes one such area, which is just asking to be taken over. The fact that Prototypy, specialising in 3D printing technologies, was already active in Wrocław, greatly simplified things. It was much easier to join forces with an active team and acquire an existing market than to start building it from scratch. Furthermore, the various branches of industry operating in the Lower Silesia (Dolny Śląsk) region, make it very attractive to investors. The Wrocław agglomeration, which extends to Bielany Wrocławskie, makes for an appropriate venue due to its excellent logistics. Located at a junction of major communication routes and the proximity of an airport means unobstructed transport of materials and products. We have customers in every corner of Poland; that is why efficient forwarding is so important for us. The university facilities in Wrocław are no less important. By making use of universities with diverse educational programmes, Materialise is able to acquire qualified specialists in many disciplines, which is of great value for a company whose roots go back to an academic setting.

What is so special about your solutions and what makes them stand out from the rest?
We refer to our factory as an SLS technology 3D printing competence centre, where SLS stands for selective laser sintering. We mainly deal with plastics, polyamide and variations thereof. In the future we are also looking to take advantage of other materials which can be used in 3D production. Furthermore, we have our own proprietary software, developed by our own programmers, through which we are able to manage production, create production plans or handle 3D models. As 80 per cent of machine manufactures who specialise in 3D printing methods also use the software, we are continuously improving and updating it.

Our comprehensive solutions are what makes Materialise stand out. We do not just deliver a final product to our customers we are also their programming, engineering and educational support. We deliver a whole range of solution packages together with our know-how, so as to satisfy the most stringent expectations. On one of our recent projects, we worked together with one of our partners to bring the project to fruition, and this is a good example of the universality of our services. We developed bespoke software and a scanner, which can be used to very quickly model a face. This can then be used to help in choosing tailored glass frames for example.

The largest success out of all of Materialise's achievements, is the fact that 300 patients all over the world were operated on using products associated with 3D printing technology. These included implants, patented surgical tools used by doctors for more effective and efficient performance during surgical procedures, as well as biometric models which helped in the planning of complex surgical procedures.

What does the future hold in store for Wrocław's investment?
Today we are only using half of our available floor space, and thus we will primarily focus on introducing new technologies and processes, innovative solutions and investing in new equipment. Currently we use 20 machines, with the potential to triple our production capacity within the scope of the available space. Thus, we are looking to test equipment from various manufacturers. Furthermore, we want to develop an area designated for post-processing, or finishing surfaces according to customer specification. Today we dye products, whereas in two or three months we will begin using a paint shop, where we will be able to paint each and every printed product.

Piotr Adamczewski (41)
Education: Poznań University of Technology, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Management, Materials Engineering, 2000
Managing Director - Materialise
September 2014 to present time
Plant Director GESTAMP
June 2013 July 2014
Operations Manager Parker Hannifin
April 2012 May 2013
Plant Manager Parker Hannifin
January 2004 April 2012
Manufacturing Engineering and Design Delphi
July 2000 December 2003