Last week, I got the opportunity to attend the Crowd Sourcing Week in Brussels: a series of seminars and workshops about all kinds of initiatives that crowdsource ideas and resources. Over the course of several talks, a recurrent pattern emerged: a successful collaboration needs to be more than the sum of its parts. At Materialise, we apply a similar standard to ‘co-creation’: an approach that aims to unlock the potential for 3D Printing with our partners. What comes out of it? Some of the greatest stories from our additive manufacturing team, ranging from award-winning eyewear to robot-enabling gripper fingers. Here’s what the process actually looks like.
Stijn De Rijck from Materialise joined Christophe Fauconnier from Innate Motion at the Crowd Sourcing Week to introduce our ‘co-creation’ approach to an audience that had listened to discussions of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing but not the business-to-business model that we frequently engage with at Materialise. Christophe not only specializes in humanizing businesses but was also a torchbearer of the co-creation approach from the beginning. “A few years ago, I was thrown into the world of 3D printing by a company full of hyper-intelligent engineers: Materialise,” says Christophe. “To me, the mission has been to grow the business and brands with meaning, not just mechanics.”
Beyond Technology: Co-creating to share the 3D Printing vision
Too often, 3D Printing is seen first as a prototyping technology, even by businesses which in fact could benefit from Materialise’s certified manufacturing services. How do you show the added value of 3D Printing to a business that hasn’t yet witnessed it? Simultaneously, how do we understand and address the unique nuances of a new business that our additive manufacturing services haven’t yet encountered?
First, we invite them to this cheery co-creation room at Materialise HQ. Surrounded by ideal conditions for brainstorming – including motivated people, room for pacing, and lots of stationery – we explore ideas for what our prospective collaborators aim to achieve, what applications they’re working on now, and how Materialise can help them make it better. “Just like all people, engineers work better on other people’s problems than on their own,” says Stijn. That’s why co-creating works for us, and for our collaborators. The co-creation room is a place for dialogue, not demonstrations. Through this exchange, the co-creation environment aims to help both sides deepen their relations and trust. That’s how we develop the confidence to go on a journey together, to explore how our respective competencies fit best.
After the Eureka: Keeping the momentum going
For us, co-creation is a process, not an event. It doesn’t end with the great idea: implementing the ‘eureka’ insights needs the right people and their commitment. With co-creation, we build joint ownership and commitment. Different co-creators need different co-creation processes, and that’s why Materialise offers three approaches of which partners can choose any or all: the 3DP Academy, to get an introduction to all things Additive Manufacturing; the Co-Creation Lab, to come up with innovative concepts for the partner’s target market; and the 3DP Scan, to spot specific parts that can benefit from Additive Manufacturing.
Does that sound like what your business is looking for?
Or if you’re curious to know how your own business applications might benefit from 3D Printing, we’ve developed a tool that might help. Just do a quick test on our 3D Print Barometerand find out if you’re an ideal candidate for 3D Printing.