Stephanie Benoit June 19, 2018

When you’re running a start-up, speed is often a key part in providing your customers with a good experience. Not only does it give you a competitive advantage, it enables you to react quickly to customer demands and get to the best version of the product together. We interviewed Filip Smet, the CEO of Lemon Companies to get his unique insight on why 3D Printing – and speedy deliveries – are so crucial for Lemon’s projects.

Some of the Lemon team members
Some of the Lemon team members

1. What does your company do?

Lemon Companies is a technology innovation company mostly focused on software development, but we often develop hardware for our customers as well. We’re only three and a half years old, but we’ve been doubling in growth each year. We have our own in-house team of software designers, which allows us to work really closely with the customer, and adapt quickly to feedback.
 

2. Why did you turn to 3D Printing? Was it for a specific project or is it a technology you turn to often?

We often turn to 3D Printing for our projects. When working on a concept, you occasionally bump into design flaws. By printing your design, you can immediately test it out to see if it fits or works. It would simply be a waste of money to mold a prototype which might still go through many design iterations. Although we have two desktop 3D printers in-house, we sometimes need the higher quality offered by an industrial 3D printing facility such as Materialise’s.

We mostly use the technology to print prototypes, but in some cases there is barely a distinction between the end part and the prototype. One example of a project where we put 3D Printing to good use was a pressure sensor for a client of ours. The company is an innovator in packaging, but they were confronted with an issue where their plastic containers were susceptible to explosion. Used to transport foodstuffs – such as ketchup – the plastic container is lined with a plastic bag, which would explode if too much gas built up. Using 3D Printing to work out the final concept, we developed a sensor which would sense the pressure build-up and alert the companies transporting the food.
 

3. Why did you choose Materialise?

Several reasons! For us, the high quality, the speed and the price all played a part. It’s a respected name in Europe, and Materialise also provides HP’s Multi Jet Fusion technology, which isn’t widely available yet. MJF is an ideal technology for us because it’s cost-friendly, enables a high degree of complexity in the parts, and some flexibility.

The 3D-printed pressure pad developed by Lemon Companies
The 3D-printed pressure pad developed by Lemon Companies

We also often go to the Materialise website for a second opinion on design tips, guidelines, whitepapers etc. There’s a lot of readily available knowledge which is quite valuable to us when we’re in the process of designing for 3D.
 

4. Why did you opt for NextDay?

As a start-up, speed is crucial for us. Customers come to Lemon because we can deliver a finished product faster than a bigger company; we have a very diverse set of skills within the company and we can tackle any project.

One of the desktop 3D printers used by Lemon
One of the desktop 3D printers used by Lemon

We’ve used NextDay for a number of projects because we had to meet very strict deadlines. It’s a very efficient, user-friendly service – our in-house designer, Dorian, can upload any file format he uses in his CAD software, instead of having to convert it first. Although there are certain limitations (size and finishing), the quality is the same as the parts that take longer.

The advantage of 3D Printing is that you can go through several iterations of a concept. As a result, you have more of a synergy with the customer; it’s more dynamic, and you can really change and adapt the product a lot. When something has to change last-minute, we can literally get the part the following day with the NextDay service to test it out.
 

5. Do you have any future plans to use 3D Printing, or NextDay in particular?

We can’t say much about our future projects as a lot of them are confidential – but we can safely say that we will be using 3D Printing for upcoming prototypes – and Materialise NextDay to get us out of those tight deadline crunches!

Are you in a hurry to get your 3D-printed parts? Check out our online NextDay service for our fastest delivery option.

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