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Leaving an established career for a 3D printing based business

Case studies, Knowledge | 0 comments

It is not usual to leave the top management job in one of the best companies in the interior outfitting branch. Especially after working there for 29 years. The decision of starting a company that produces 3D printing plastic parts using the laser sintering process may seem crazy, but Stefan Radau is the one who did it.

Stefan Radau

Stefan is a tall and well-built man in his 50s. If you spot him during fairs, you can be mesmerized by hundreds of perfectly modeled and printed parts hanging on the wall of his booth. But that is just a piece of what he does in his company.

Stefan’s first experience with 3D printing was typical. A cheap filament printer from China (FDM), which worked horribly was his first additive manufacturing tool. But that gave birth to curiosity.

The way to a SLS 3D printer

Being a model making hobbyist, but still an engineer, Stefan is dedicated to tools that can be 100 percent dependable. So the decision to upgrade from the FDM printer to a more advanced one was just a matter of time.

scale-print-case-study-ph3

In the showroom of our partner SLS 3D in Hanover, Stefan had the chance to get a close look into the hardware, software and print results before investing into LISA. After seeing it live and getting all open questions addressed, Stefan felt more than confident about the solution. Not only at the first meeting but also in the user training given by SLS 3D, Stefan got all necessary knowledge to start with the SLS technology productive directly from the beginning.

“I have chosen the SLS 3D printer because I always need to get 100% result in anything that I am doing, even if it is only a hobby, which was the case at that time” – says Stefan. “I only needed about a month to decide. After comparing some available desktop 3D printers I came up with the decision to buy Sinterit Lisa” – he adds.

At that time, Stefan, still a managing director, had no idea that his life would change so dramatically in the following year. At the age of 54 and for private reasons he left the company. Interested in model making, 3D engineering, CNC technology, and 3D printing for more than half of his life, Stefan decided to follow this path.

Scale Print is born

Having an experience, the business idea, and SLS 3D printer in his workshop, he started Scale Print. The concept was simple. There is a sort of product that cannot be offered or purchased on the open market. Stefan wanted to create a possibility to manufacture those products. Among his clients are model builders but also architects and product designers.

Stefan Radau and the Scale Print 3D printed parts

“I have printed over 3400 hours during the last 15 months” – says Stefan. “If you would like to visualize the volume of those prints, just imagine a 13 x 9 cm column over 7 meters high. The interesting part is that I had only 3 or 4 misprints and one repair during that time” – he concludes.

How to choose a 3D printer for prototyping?

After 2007, when desktop FDM printers became very popular, and also widely available, designers and product development companies rushed to equip their studios with this novelty. It was good for the beginning, to learn how additive manufacturing works.

But those FDM 3D printers were also very limited and not necessarily precise. This is when the first desktop SLA entered the game. Almost surgically precise, with enormous attention to detail, but slower than FDM and difficult in post processing.

Meanwhile, the most advanced technology, Selective laser sintering (SLS) wasn’t available for small companies. With only big, industrial and expensive machines on the market, small companies were forced to use FDM, SLA or some simple powder-based printers, not accurate at all. It changed in 2014 after the SLS patent expired and two companies introduced their small SLS 3D printers. One of those companies was Sinterit.

Since 2014 the company introduced two different SLS 3D printers and grew big, having sold over 1000 printers worldwide, among them Stefan’s Lisa.

Who needs a small SLS?

“I saw that for a business like mine, based mostly on prototyping, Sinterit Lisa is the best choice. It brings a quality that is absolutely the same as a 300 000 EUR industrial SLS 3D printer. So for everybody who needs to produce prototypes for any products, Lisa is a candidate for a deal” says the owner of Scale Print.

From Stefan Radau’s experience, users like architects, model builders, interior design companies and of course universities should definitely try desktop SLS.

“Unfortunately, only a few people can imagine what is possible with the 3D technique” – sums up Stefan.


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