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3D printing: investing in the future

After having studied Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Design in his hometown of Valencia, Josep Garces Pellicer moved to The Netherlands. ‘I was looking forward to working abroad in Research and Development. Two years ago, TMC gave me the opportunity to do so.’

As a Mechanical Engineer in Product Development, Josep works with a team of four other engineers. ‘Among other things, we develop flow meters. These are devices that measure the flow of gas and liquids – for instance oil or beverages. Companies use flow meters to fill their bottles.’

A year ago, Josep became interested in 3D printing. ‘It started as a hobby project. But I also knew: this is the future. So it was a combination of a new hobby and investing in the future. The plan was to build a 3D printer from scratch. I bought the parts, looked up the instructions on the Internet and started building it myself. I thought it would take me a week.’

It took Josep six months.‘I worked on it in my spare time, often until 3AM. There were lots of struggles and delays. But in the end, everything turned out well. There was only one problem: I didn’t know what I was going to use it for.’

Another idea occurred to him: ‘I’m a musician as well as an engineer – I play the saxophone and the clarinet. I figured I could use the printer to make parts for my instruments. I tried the parts myself and I was pleased to see that they worked. Then I went to see some professional musicians, who liked the parts as well.’

The parts even made it to the other side of the world: a professional musician from New York contacted Josep, and is now using them.

In March, Josep gave a lecture at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, for a group of 30 students. ‘My girlfriend is doing a master’s called Cultural Economics and Entrepreneurship. When the subject of 3D printing came up in class, she mentioned that we have one at home, and her professor was interested. So I took in the printer and talked about the process of building it and also about being an engineer and a musician. That’s a bit of an unusual combination. It’s an example of how people nowadays are not just one thing, but many things at the same time. The presentation went well, I think, and there might be more presentations in the future. It’s something I like doing. I’m always open to sharing information.’

After showing the 3D printer at work, Josep’s colleagues were enthusiastic as well. ‘At the moment I’m in charge of getting a 3D printer for the company. We want to use it for prototypes. Until now, we’ve always had to go to other companies that own a 3D printer, but soon, we can do it all ourselves.’

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