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