Materialise

Manufacturer, furniture, lighting and homeware, software
Belgium
Company name: Materialise
Company size: Large
Company web site: http://www.materialise.com
Date of Foundation: 1990
Nr. of Employees: 250<

Case summary:
Originally a spin off from the University of Louvain, Materialise has grown from a two person operation to one employing over 600 People. An engineering company that develops industrial and medical software and prototypes New Technology, it also manufactures large format 3D printer and it has utilised this Technology to make Products that were not previously possible. Design came to the company in the form of a New department with the intention of becoming a bridge between Prototyping and manufacture. When Design first came to Materialise many within the company saw it as fluffy nonsense but this opinion changed quickly as the added value impact of Design became obvious. Rather than Design enabling Technology to be marketed, the Technology enabled designs to come to existence. The company moved to making and marketing unique Products, especially lighting, and believes it has achieved a virtuous balance between the rational and the emotional in its approach. Over the last five years, Design has changed the Culture of the company. Bringing more warmth and demonstrating a New way of looking at business.

Materialise reconciles the cerebral and the emotional
Started in 1990 as a two-man spin-off from the University in Louvain, Materialise currently employs 600 people at four locations spread across the continents. Its best-known product is the Mammuth, the world’s biggest 3D-printer. Prototyping new technology and developing industrial and medical software remains the Louvain engineering company’s core business. But since 2003 design has been making itself felt at Materialise in a highly original way. “Design is the future of technology”, says creative director and head of MGX division, Naomi Kaempfer.

Most industrial companies that develop products intended for sale have a design department. It is not enough for a product to ‘work’, it also has to find its way to the consumer. At Materialise design has sneaked into the company in quite a different way – not to give existing technological products a ‘look’, but as a new arm of the company, as the pacesetter in the transition from prototyping to manufacturing…

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