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One of the longest-standing additive manufacturing (AM) companies in the industry, Materialise NV is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. Began in 1990 by chief executive officer Wilfred Vancrien and his wife, Hilde Ingelaere (now executive vice president of Materialise Medical), the company originated as a rapid prototyping service bureau. Materialise quickly pivoted into developing 3D printing applications for the healthcare industry, beginning its work on creating digital 3D images of the human anatomy in 1992. That effort, which involved combining sliced image data and the 3D printing process, led the firm to design its own software solutions, which would ultimately be offered on the market as Materialise Mimics (for medical applications) and Materialise Magics (for industrial applications).

Materialise set another precedent for 3D printing solutions in 1995, becoming the first company in history to offer multiple colors in a single stereolithography model; the next year, the company utilized that technology to begin making 3D-printed guides for dental surgeons. In 1997, customers could start ordering directly from, launched as Materialise NextDay (and currently known as Materialise OnSite). Always an innovator in software, in 2000, Materialise made its entry into the hardware arena, producing the Mammoth Stereolithography 3D printer. Also in 2000, it collaborated with hearing aid manufacturer Phonak to develop Rapid Shell Modeling (RSM) software for custom-printed hearing aids; at present, 99% of hearing aids are now produced using 3D printing.

With the 2004 creation of its 3-matic software, Materialise transformed the industry yet again, as it made it possible for engineers to edit files directly in STL — the standard file format for 3D printers — rather than having to convert the files from STL to CAD and back again. In 2006, Materialise acquired OBL, a specialist in creating custom cranio-maxillofacial (CMF) implants, again bringing a much greater degree of personalization to medical procedures via the use of 3D printing software. Three years later, the company would take its passion for mass customization 3D printing services to a much larger audience, with the launch of another site, i.materialise, which is targeted to individuals rather than corporations.

Materialise’s momentum didn’t slow down as it entered the third decade of its existence. Having a real knack for the power of the press release and the art of trending before people really knew what “trending” was, the company collaborated in 2010 with Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen to create one of the first 3D-printed fashion pieces to appear on a modeling runway. Two years later, Materialise launched Streamics, its proprietary 3D-printing workflow management software system. Two more years after that, on June 25, 2014, the company announced its IPO on the Nasdaq, where it can be found under the listing “MTLS”. Starting with a market cap of just under 500 million, aside from an anomalous, briefly booming 2020, the company’s valuation has risen fairly steadily, and as of January 14, 2022, its trailing-twelve-month (TTM) data includes a $1.2 billion market cap and a diluted earnings per share (EPS) of .04.

Materialise made many significant moves in 2015, including becoming authorized to deliver end-use parts to aerospace industry customers like Airbus, as well as hiring Johan Albrecht as its chief financial officer. In 2017, the company started collaborating with a fellow industry pioneer, making it possible for customers to use its Build Processor software in 3D Systems’ ProJet CJP full color machines. Going from a husband-and-wife team working in northwestern Europe specializing in a rather obscure technology, to a public firm with footholds in a variety of industries and a corporate presence from Asia to the Americas, Materialise has more than solidified its place in the annals of 3D printing history.


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