Dennis conquers Germany.
The Netherlands is a little ahead of the game. Pretty nice, but we also want to convince the rest of the world of the benefits of industrial 3D printing. So our German colleague Dennis Mirabelli has a fine task on his plate.
“In Germany, 3D printing for the really serious applications is not done that much yet. There, the focus is still much more on injection molding technology, but that is because 3D printing as a manufacturing technique is not that well known yet. Explaining to customers how professionally we handle this technology at Parts On Demand is sometimes quite a challenge. And that it’s not simply a cottage printer where a part rolls out and is then sent in a box to the customer.”
So he himself was very impressed when he first became acquainted with the company. “Through a recruiter, I came in contact with Parts On Demand. I was a manager in a company in aeration and lighting systems for the food industry. Unfortunately, that company fell on hard times, so I looked around for a new challenge. The technology of 3D printing was completely new to me, I honestly couldn’t imagine much about it at the time.”
After two video appointments, he was invited to come to Utrecht to watch. “The company visit was a real eye-opener for me. I wish I could have all my clients make a visit like that, then my job would be a lot easier,” he laughs. Impressed as he was by both the technology and the people. “It really is a whole production cycle, there is a lot involved before a part goes out the door here. And also the engineering, production and after-treatment departments, for example, as an outsider you have no idea how much effort actually goes into manufacturing a part to the right specifications, but also suitable for the application!”
Why should we
The German national character also plays a bit of a role, Dennis confirms to our question. “Well, it’s a bit more conservative than in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is much more open to innovations. It is a bit of an attitude of ‘We have always done it this way, so why should we do it differently’. But you notice when people can really get the benefits through to them, they get very enthusiastic. The whole awareness of the added value, the effort, the quality and the price structure, that really does take some time.”
Of course we want to know what successes he has scored so far. After all, he has been employed since August, and together with Ron Verleun he manned a booth at the FMB fair in Bad Salzuflen. A trade show for suppliers in the machinery industry, so a nice target audience. “At the fair we had a lot of enthusiastic responses, so that gave quite a few nice leads. But you do notice that the lead time for an order is long. A new technique, that takes time. But with one company, for example, we had immediate results. They were urgently looking for a supplier in 3D printing that really works professionally and to a high standard. They had already tried two suppliers, because their product was developed for 3D printing. In both cases, the products arrived broken. From Parts On Demand they got good parts and they are very happy with the delivery and attention.”
This is how it can be done
“We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to awareness of the technology and distinguishing a party that knows what it is doing and really understands 3D printing for industrial applications. Because companies see examples of others, who don’t take their craft as seriously as we do and who supply parts that are not satisfactory. That’s where we really have to overcome something then, to show how it can be done. But either way, it’s a technique that no one is going to be able to avoid. We’re going to need it. So we have to show up well.”
He beams with optimism as he talks about the possibilities and customer response. “One 3D printing is not the other. A hobbyist can really damage the market, so it’s important that we know how to tell our success stories well. And that we can show our customers what’s involved. Post-processing alone makes a huge difference, a part doesn’t just go out of the printer into the mail, but there’s a whole series of steps that follow. Of course, you can also get a 3D print from another party. But that doesn’t mean that that means you have a part suitable for your application.”
Name recognition needed
“Fortunately, we have a lot of stories from Holland that we can share. But people have to know how to find their way to you and your website. So there lies a clean job there,” Dennis grins. And the first successes are in, with great projects and happy customers. In the food industry, medical industry and automation. “There is also a lot to be expected from that, because customers who are satisfied will tell on. What I particularly get back from those happy customers is that they appreciate our complete service approach so much. We are a service company, more than a production company. You can have direct contact with engineers and so you actually have an extension of your own company. Because they just really think with you. Whether it’s a simple or a highly complex application, everything is made with the same attention. Customers are not a number, but get real service, which is the big difference with other parties. So in not too long we will probably have to grow further in Germany.”
The human plane
By now, he has a long experience with his colleagues. And besides on the professional level, he was not disappointed on the human level. “Already at the introduction it was clear, this is a very nice group of people. With passion for their profession, which is really nice to see. But the atmosphere among them is also very pleasant. I find that really important. The colleagues are always ready and are also willing to go the extra mile for each other.”
As to what else is on his mind, he is also willing to tell us a little about it. “My wife is a successful tournament rider in Western riding. We have a number of horses and quite a lot of time goes into that. And besides that I love soccer, I live near Frankfurt – so Eintracht Frankfurt is my club, ice hockey and I am active in the paintball Bundesliga ánd in nice weather I like to kitesurf.”
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