3D Printing Veteran Fried Vancrean Retires as Materialise CEO


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Fried Vancrean is a luminary in the 3D printing world. After three decades leading Materialise (Nasdaq: MTLS), we had the privilege of interviewing him and featuring him not once but twice on our podcast. Now, after 33 years dedicated entirely to steering Materialise, Fried is retiring. The company stands as a pillar in the 3D printing sector, functioning not only as a large service bureau but also as an innovator in diverse areas. From concept cars and cranio-maxillofacial implants to aviation components, Materialise has been at the forefront. In addition to its hardware contributions, the firm also operates as a medical device company, breaking new ground in orthopedics and other medical fields. Perhaps most notably, Materialise is renowned as a software company; its Magics platform and other software tools are daily staples for professionals in the industry, aiding in build planning, optimization, file repair, and more.

Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen holding 3D printed part. Materialise CEO Wilfried Vancraen holding 3D printed part. Image courtesy of Materialise.

Fried Vancrean is not just an exceptional leader; he’s a genuine inspiration. Combining modesty and down-to-earth wisdom with keen insights, he radiates both intelligence and vision. I had the opportunity to work under his leadership at Materialise, and his intellectual acuity was as evident as his lack of pretension. Initially a researcher, Fried garnered investment and, along with a small but dedicated team, transformed Materialise into a global 3D printing leader based out of Leuven, Belgium.

As of January 1st, Fried will transition to the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors, passing the torch to Brigitte de Vet-Veithen. She joined Materialise in 2016 and currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Materialise Medical. Her appointment is apt, as the company is increasingly focusing on the medical sector, a burgeoning market positioned at the intersection of multiple megatrends. Materialise is well-poised to capitalize on these opportunities, especially as its medical division currently stands as the primary engine for both profit and growth.

“We founded Materialise with a mission to create a better and healthier world. Thirty-three years later, the company has reached an ideal point to bring in new leadership to take us into the future. This transition represents an evolution of leadership, not a departure. I am proud of what we have accomplished through our efforts to improve and save patient lives and to advance the industrial production process with innovative 3D printing solutions. Brigitte has the perfect combination of internal and external experience and has demonstrated a deep commitment to Materialise’s mission and its people. I cannot think of a better person than Brigitte to lead Materialise and to help shape our industry going forward,” Fried said.

“It will be an honor to lead Materialise, a company that helped create and continues to shape the 3D printing industry, As we take this step, I celebrate our roots as 3D printing pioneers, but I am even more excited about our role as pioneers of tomorrow’s possibilities. As 3D printing establishes itself as an essential tool in the production toolbox, Materialise is ideally positioned to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities ahead and to continue driving the growth of our industry,” de Vet-Veithen stated.

Brigitte de Vet-Veithen comes to her new role well-equipped, having previously held leadership positions at Johnson & Johnson among other companies. Taking the reins at Materialise won’t be an easy task; transitioning from a 3D printing specialist to a dynamic leader in the medical device arena presents its challenges. However, with 3D printing making significant inroads into the medical device sector—and many professionals relying on Materialise’s software for innovation—the company is rich in both experience and potential for growth.

As for Fried Vancrean, his blend of inspirational leadership, grounded humanity, and intellectual brilliance has been a gift to the 3D printing industry. We have been fortunate to have such a remarkable individual help shape a significant part of our field.

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