2020: What a Difference a Year Makes

March 9, 2021

2020 is a year that will remain forever etched in our collective psyche. It was a year that upended how and where we work, travel, shop, and socialize. A year where priorities were questioned and habits changed, but also one where challenges made way for solutions like never before. So, what did 2020 look like for Materialise? Take a look at our 2020 highlights video and read more below.

As 2020 evolved, our mission of creating a better and healthier world remained firmly at the heart of everything we did. Always putting people first, we showed how additive manufacturing technologies can help solve real-life problems and bring meaningful impact. We also showed how digital transformation is not only keeping us connected and productive, but how it is also opening new and expanded opportunities for mass personalization in a range of industries.

Keeping the show on the road

Like so many companies worldwide, much of our focus during 2020 was on keeping our global workforce safe, healthy, and able to continue working in the best possible circumstances. After all, our 2020 Top Employer Belgium award – which we received just before lockdowns started – is a testament to our dedication to our employees, the beating heart of Materialise!

Where possible, we switched to remote working, and introduced strict safety measures in our buildings for team members who needed to be on-site. Beyond our own company, we did our best to make remote working as continuous as possible for our customers, with flexible software licenses, access to cloud-based sharing tools, and extended support.

Man using a screen connected to a 3D printer in a production environment
Measures such as splitting our building into zones, and disinfecting areas between shifts helped keep our employees safe.

Developing medical devices and PPE to fight COVID-19

With 31 years of meaningful innovation under our belt – we celebrated our 30th anniversary in 2020 as best we could – our desire to make a difference is backed up by solid experience. And we put this experience to good use in the fight against COVID, devising new solutions to help healthcare systems and individuals stay safe.

From certified medical devices such as Non-Invasive PEEP masks to alleviate ventilator shortages and 3D-printed valves to control oxygen flow from ventilators, to personal protective equipment like face mask clips and face shield holders, and everyday prevention devices such as our hands-free door opener. And of course, where possible, we made the design files publicly available so others could also use or adapt them.

Arm demonstrating a 3D-printed, hands-free door opener
A 3D-printed hands-free door opener designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Advancing digital transformation and personalization in eyewear and footcare

2020 was also a year when digital transformation, already a hot topic, was thrown into the spotlight. With consumer demand for personalized experiences and products ever increasing, 3D printing technology needs to rise to the digital challenge, and Materialise is ready for it.

In the field of eyewear, Materialise joined forces with Ditto, a developer of virtual eyewear try-on platforms, to advance the digital transformation in the eyewear industry and support the creation of new and personalized shopping experiences.

Towards the end of the year, we fully acquired the RSscan dynamic foot measurement technology and the Phits personalized insole product line. Through this acquisition, Materialise intends to accelerate its R&D and product development efforts for the personalization of footcare and to bring a comprehensive suite of personalized solutions to footcare professionals and sports experts that deal with foot or gait problems.

Rear view of a 3D-printed orthotic
3D-printed, personalized insoles to treat foot or gait problems.

Together, we are built to last

Although we were physically further than ever from our employees, our communities, and our and peers in 2020, we stayed connected and united. Together, adapting to changing circumstances, we kept pushing boundaries to uncover new ways in which 3D printing technologies can change the world.

In May, we launched Mindware, our new advisory service for 3D printing. Building on our three decades of experience and know-how, Mindware offers tailored guidance at every step of the additive manufacturing journey, helping companies bring innovation to market in record time.

Later in the year – in the COVID-forced absence of our annual Materialise World Summit, – our digital Think-In Series gave us a platform to share our vision for a more sustainable future for 3D printing, announce our latest innovations – like Bluesint PA12 which seeks to eliminate waste in 3D printing, and the Storefront, a new cloud-based e-commerce solution for 3D printing factories – and discuss our industry’s next decade.

As you can see, despite COVID-19’s best efforts, 2020 was not a year for standing still.

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