Innovation speed as part of the DNA

Text and Photos: Thomas Masuch - 25/10/2018

Even in the very liberal additive manufacturing industry, there are only a few companies which have elevated their openness to a corporate philosophy as consistently as Additive Industries. An example of this is the new company headquarters in Eindhoven in the former Philipps factory. The interior of the factory hall shines almost entirely in white. Here, even from the assembly areas, you can easily look into the glass offices and laboratories.

»The hall is bright, clean, safe and open and a good example of the heritage of Dutch industry,« said Daan Kersten, one of the founders of Additive Industries at the opening of the new headquarters in early October. Officiating at the opening was Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte who pressed the official start button. The size of the hall and the high level of political attendance were notable given the fact that the additive industry is only five years old.

While other companies often emerge from a spin-off, we started from scratch.

Daan Kersten and his co-founder Jonas Wintermans started in a tiny office in Eindhoven. Since then the company has developed into an important player in the industry, with 70 employees and a turnover of 10 million euros. With the modular design of the MetalFAB1, the Dutch company has demonstrated an early focus on additive series production. According to Wintermans, 20 MetalFAB1 systems have now been installed at well-known companies such as BWM, SMS Group, GKN, Sauer and Airbus.

»You don't have to be an engineer«

»While other companies often emerge from a spin-off, we started from scratch,« recalls Wintermans. As bankers and strategy consultants, they also came from other industries, »but you don't have to be an engineer to get to where we are today,« Wintermans explained proudly in his address to an international audience at the opening.

As the company grew, the two founders implemented a clear philosophy: Open and lean structures, strong partners and a consistent focus on the company’s strengths. »Part of our DNA is to keep our pace of innovation high,« says Kersten. That is why Additive Industries works primarily with large companies as customers. In this way, Additive Industries can not only advance the customer's production process, but also the development of MetalFAB1. Kersten hopes that existing customers will quickly see the benefits of their initial plant and will place further orders - »enthusiastic customers buy more«.

New ways in service

Additive Industries and its customers are also closely linked when it comes to service. From Eindhoven, the technicians can - if customers allow - access all MetalFAB1 systems. Kersten has been pleasantly surprised that almost all customers use this service. Having plants spread over numerous countries and regions makes special demands on the service section. Additive Industries meets these requirements by equipping customer employees on site with headsets and cameras. In this way, service cases can be resolved even more effectively by remote maintenance.

In its entrepreneurial development, Additive Industries has consistently concentrated on its strengths and outsourced much of the technical development. Of the entire process chain in the construction of MetalFAB1, only research and development and sales and service take place under the umbrella of Additive Industries. Service providers take over the other areas from design and engineering to prototyping, and from the production of components to the integration of systems. »If we can buy something that works well,« says Kersten, describing the strategy, »why should we develop it ourselves?«

32,000 individual parts

The MetalFAB1, consisting of 32,000 individual parts, is delivered by partners in finished modules to the workshops of Additive Industries. Final assembly, testing and dispatch are then carried out here in just under three weeks.

Wintermans and Kersten are uncompromising in their pursuit of the company policy of openness in their relationship with customers, partners and employees. Among other things, all of the company’s customers meet twice a year in Eindhoven to exchange experiences and discuss further developments. »Surely openness doesn't work if it only works in one direction,« says Kersten. »This gives us far more advantages than disadvantages.«

Ultimately, according to Kersten, the open corporate culture also increases employee satisfaction, which the company rates at 75 percent. Transparency is a decisive factor here - »people want to be involved«.

200 machines per year possible

The technical and entrepreneurial development of Additive Industries is strongly driven by Winterman's family which has invested in the development of the company. This has enabled Additive Industries to multiply the size of its production and office space at the new site. Currently ten systems can be assembled simultaneously in the renovated Philipps building, a production capacity of up to 200 machines per year.

While the new building is brightly lit and modern, the orange bricks on the outside recall the almost 100-year Philipps era. Wintermans and Kersten and their team want to lead this legacy into the future with great speed over the next few years. Their plan is that in a few years, MetalFAB1 will be regarded as »the system that has changed the market«.

Additive Industries at Formnext 2018:

  • Hall 3.0, Stand E40