Radhika Dhuru, Stephanie Benoit April 20, 2017

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – today is the day when the Materialise World Summit 2017 kicked off, and what a start! In case you missed out, here is an overview of the highlights from Day One.

Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen Opens the Summit

The event started off with an opening keynote from our very own CEO, Fried Vancraen. He took the audience through the history of the Materialise World Summit, and underlined the advances of the technology.

The rest of the morning didn’t disappoint either – all of our keynote speakers took the stage in the Gold Hall and presented the enthusiastic audience with some fascinating, diverse insights. Vice Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, gave a unique perspective on the role of innovation within governments, and how governments and companies should work together to stimulate innovation. In his words,

"We've been looking at the future as a frightening case of man vs. machine. That's not the case. Yes, technology has destroyed jobs - poorly paid, back-breaking, unengaging jobs. And it has replaced them with better paid, intellectually stimulating jobs."

In a dynamic presentation about co-creation and Yuniku, Hoya’s Felix S. España and Materialise’s Alireza Parandian introduced Materialise and Hoya's fruitful collaboration as a central part of innovation - and the result of that collaboration. Yuniku is the world's first vision-centric 3D-tailored eyewear, and shows that when two companies bring together their expertise, transformative innovation becomes possible.

They were followed by Andreas Saar from Siemens with an inspiring account of how Siemens sees a promising future ahead for Additive Manufacturing. In Andreas Saar's words, 3D Printing reshapes everything, and enables manufacturing companies to create parts that are smarter, more lightweight, and with a better performance.

Finally, Dr. Jonathan Morris from Mayo Clinic took the stage as the last keynote speaker. But last was certainly not least - in an incredibly inspiring speech, Dr. Morris outlined how Mayo Clinic has been implementing 3D Printing throughout its entire hospital system for the last eight years. One point which stuck in the mind was that a 3D print lab in a hospital should be kept open and accessible to all:

"Do not set up barriers to anyone who wants to use the technology. They will use it in ways you could never imagine."

Freddie, the 3D-printed skeleton

Lunch with Freddie, the 3D-Printed Skeleton

Lunch is an event of which the importance should never be underestimated. In a nice change of scene, attendees were able to walk around the exhibition hall and hear some of the smaller presentations from sponsors on the product stage. It was a great opportunity to see and learn about what other 3D printing companies were doing, as well as meeting some fascinating people! One guest in particular caught everyone’s eye – Freddie, the 3D-printed skeleton.

Visitors could also try out Hoya's Yuniku scanner, which scans your face and allows opticians to create a perfect set of eyewear tailored to your anatomy and lifestyle. Our sponsors were also present with booths featuring their technology - Hoet, Showpad, HP and BASF among others were all present.

The Additive Manufacturing Session

Stefaan Motte opened the Additive Manufacturing summit with a call to the industry to recognize where true innovation lies. "Innovation is important, we need to innovate more: but it's not the core challenge," he said. "What is? The digital supply chain. Looking beyond software and machines but to the applications where 3D technology needs to live. Designing a surgical guide for a perfect fit doesn't make it a success. The success lies in reaching out to the hospital in the first place."

Taking up the subject of innovation in design, multi-award winning design entrepreneur Benjamin Hubert spoke about the experiences that led to the development of the GO wheelchair. The subject was echoed in the very final seminar of the day by Philippe Laufer, the man behind CATIA, when he pointed out that consumers no longer want to buy products, but to buy experiences, a realization that has led to Dassault Systemes' creation of the 3DExperience.

Volker Hammes, Managing Director of BASF, discussed how chemistry-enabled AM offers solutions for the future. With an animated audience interaction, with lots of curiosity surrounding Polyamide 6 applications in AM, he paved the way for Andre Walter's talk on advanced material technology in the aircraft industry, from his perspective as Head of Plant at Airbus. Continuing the theme of aerospace applications in AM, Marta Garcia-Cosio from Atos explained how co-engineering with Materialise led to the creation of a titanium satellite insert that has the potential to save tens of thousands of dollars upon each satellite launch.

Hoet's 3D-printed eyewear
The MWS lobby
The audience for the keynote sessions

The Healthcare Session

Meanwhile, the Healthcare session had also been inspiring and informing a completely different audience. Vice President of Materialise Medical Brigitte de Vet opened the Healthcare session after lunch, inviting the audience to think about 3D Printing in healthcare and emphasizing the need to focus on outcome, not on the technology itself.

The first half of the session was characterized by presentations on the implementation of 3D Printing in a hospital environment, with great examples from Dr. Chen Ching Kit, Dr. Philipp Brantner and Dr. Aalpen A. Patel. Each of these speakers is involved in a working 3D print lab in their hospital, and they shared their tips for setting up your own 3D print lab - namely, start small, define your stakeholders and make sure your prints are of high enough quality.

The innovations these hospitals are making in healthcare are admirable examples, but there are practical issues which must be addressed as well. During the second part of the afternoon, the talks in the Healthcare session focused on the business, legal and societal aspects to the integration of the technology. Philip Tack from the University of Ghent looked at 3D Printing from an economic perspective, and raised the important point that healthcare must also be economically viable. Next up was Michael Barthold from Depuy-Synthès. He demonstrated that for device companies, 3D Printing is a technology with fantastic potential, but evidence is paramount and there needs to be a proper regulatory framework in place before it really takes hold.

The key takeaways were that it is clear that surgeons and hospitals are convinced about the benefits of Medical 3D Printing - the difficulty lies in implementing the technology within a hospital workflow, and making it cost-effective. A key part of implementing the technology is also convincing hospital management of its worth, and for that a hard body of research is necessary.

The evening event at the Concert Noble

Dinner, Drinks and a Show

Before we knew it, it was time for the evening event. Set in the Concert Noble, the evening entertainment was provided by our very own executives, who proved their comedy chops with a show that involved dancing, music and... surprises.

Announced earlier during the conference, the Materialiser 0.1. would be the biggest announcement from Materialise to date. Was it a new software product? New 3D printing technology? A new material? All our audience knew was that it ran on time alone. So amidst dramatic background music, Fried Vancraen and Peter Leys opened up the box containing the Materialiser 0.1. The box was empty - the big reveal was that the greatest tool any company could make use of was collaboration with partners and fellow innovators.

That wraps up Day One of the Materialise World Summit 2017! We hope everyone had a great time and learnt plenty of new things. Keep your eyes peeled for the overview of Day Two on the blog tomorrow.