From start-up to global player: Twenty-five years ago, a young research engineer saw a 3D printer for the first time. Seeing this novel technology in action immediately sparked his interest and, more importantly, his imagination. Now, 25 years in, we are proud of all the meaningful innovations we’ve materialized.

In 1990 Wilfried – or, as he’s better known as, Fried – Vancraen began thinking of all the unique ways this technology could be used and problems it could solve, so he spent his entire life savings to purchase a 3D printer and opened Materialise. According to Fried, “the first plan was just to act as a service bureau with no more than three machines. But even before we were halfway through those first five years, we were already developing software and had decided to start commercializing that software for 3D printing.”

What started out as an Additive Manufacturing service bureau soon expanded. Early on Fried noticed that there needed to be better software to make the data printable. He also saw the potential of this technology to improve surgeries by planning and making solutions specific to an individual patient’s unique anatomy. Within some years, Materialise successfully printed prototypes, created medical models based on medical imaging data, launched its Magics software, and made 3D printing more accessible.

Check out this infographic highlighting facts and figures about the last 25 years of 3D printing at Materialise and learn how 3D printing is making a difference here and now.

history of 3d printing infographic


  • Congratulations! 😀

    I usually like to find problems with big companies and then point them out in various obnoxious ways. HAHAHA! 😀 However, with i.materialise and Materialise, I never can find anything worth mentioning. You guys do a really great job!

    Keep up the great work! 🙂

  • Thank you for the kind words. Nice to hear!

  • Frank Stern

    This blast to the past was really well-made! I found another infographic regarding some of the newer achievements in 3D printing: http://uk.rs-online.com/web/generalDisplay.html?id=i/3d-printing Scroll down a little to view it.

  • Danniel Gery

    Nice info graphic showing 25 Years of 3D Printing Meaningful Innovations. Twenty-five years ago, a young research engineer saw a 3D printer for the first time. Seeing this novel technology in action immediately sparked his interest and, more importantly, his imagination. Now, 25 years in, we are proud of all the meaningful innovations we’ve materialized. Recently I took service from Iannone 3D, which is a New Jersey based Rapid Prototyping and 3D Printing Service Bureau.

  • Nice effort on the infographic and well done to do it in 3D style (talk about keeping it on topic and relevant).
    I was wondering what people’s opinions are regarding the 3D pens such as the 3Doodler? I know it is early days and the pen is no match for a stand alone 3D printer, but what about the concept of being able to use your creativity without restrictions of using software, the pens being mobile, now being able to print even in wood, cooper, bronze type materials and so on….does anyone seeing these growing in popularity and challenging the 3D printer in say 20, 30 or 40 years to come?