Flanders has a strong history in 3D printing. KU Leuven, one of the region’s and even the world’s most-innovative universities according to news organization Reuters, has been a frontrunner in the field since the very beginning. From developing novel printing techniques and using new materials (such as plastics and metal) to exploring potential applications, the university has made a mark in the local and international 3D printing scene. In fact, KU Leuven’s research is so successful that it has resulted in two world-renowned spin-offs: 3D-printing companies Materialise and LayerWise, which is now part of 3D Systems.
Yet 3D printing innovation is not just happening in Leuven. It’s taking form all across Flanders, with several other universities developing their own area of expertise: UGent in Ghent is conducting research on extrusion technologies, particularly for polymers, concrete and even biomaterials. VUB in Brussels, meanwhile, is exploring the possibilities of hybrid printing. This enables 3D printing and post-processing to be done on the same machine.
In addition to universities and research institutes, Flanders is home to plenty of innovative 3D printing companies and projects. Take Luxexcel, an eyewear company that has created a 3D printing solution to manufacture fully customized prescription lenses for eyewear and smart glasses. Another example? How about the world’s first fully liveable 3D-printed house, created by Kamp C?
Materialise – driving 3D printing innovation since 1990
Active since 1990, Materialise was – and still is – a 3D printing pioneer, generally considered as one of the top-5 additive manufacturing companies in the world. The company leverages its experience to create a range of software solutions and 3D printing services. Materialise’s open and flexible platforms enable innovative 3D solutions in industries such as healthcare, automotive, aerospace, art and design and more.