A Job with a Mission: Inspire to Think Differently

Vera Seitz presents novel design ideas which are to inspire the imagination of engineers and designers (Photo: ACEO®; Wacker Chemie AG)

Additive manufacturing offers endless possibilities. Vera Seitz is the sparring partner at ACEO® when it comes to product design engineering. Her biggest challenge is, surprisingly, not to bring customers’ 3D prints to life – it is to create an understanding for the freedom of design and the benefits that come with it.

Vera, can you tell us more about your background in engineering?

I graduated in mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Munich. Medical engineering was my main focus and my passion, which is why I decided to do my doctorate degree in this field. Throughout my four years as scientific assistant, 3D printing became more and more important, and I was involved in numerous industry projects. I also gained profound experience in plastics technology during that time. ACEO® was so to speak a logical consequence and a perfect match for my postdoctorate career.

How is your experience beneficial for the technology used by ACEO®?

A sound understanding of manufacturing processes is definitely an asset. There are parts that should rather be produced with injection molding, while other parts can solely be 3D printed. You cannot consult your customer properly if you don’t know the benefits of alternative processes.

What are your everyday tasks and challenges as product design engineer?

As product design engineer, my task is to ensure parts can be realized in terms of design. I advise customers how their projects can be implemented and explain the opportunities and limits of 3D printing their parts with silicones. Another task is to develop model parts for presentations, shows, etc.

The main challenge about my job is to inspire customers to think differently. It is key to understand what can be done with our technology. The designs that we get are often based on proven processes like injection molding and do not consider the advantages of 3D printing. The freedom of design that comes with it can safe weight or add functionalities and thus create new opportunities.

Have you ever had a customer request you could not implement?

Our guidelines clearly describe the limits of our technology. Depending on the geometry, we can print objects with a wall thickness of >1mm.

Before we decline a request outside the limits of our guidelines, we give it a try. One of our customers working in medical engineering needed a part with thinner walls. We had to be very creative but in the end we found a design solution and were able to 3D print it successfully.

Can you describe the idea behind the ACEO® Open Print Lab?

The ACEO® Open Print Lab is a showroom for customers to experience our technology first-hand. With guidance from our experts they can create and test print their own parts. The most striking benefit is that we can explain the principles of 3D printing with ACEO® which in turn is often an eye-opener for product designers. As a consequence, they have a much better understanding of our method and are thus able to develop new designs free of restrictions that came with previous technologies.

What do you like most about 3D printing with silicones?

Being part of a small team like ACEO® allows me to work in an interdisciplinary environment where I can apply my knowledge beyond the field of medical engineering. We all learn so much from each other every day, which in turn helps us significantly to further develop our technology.

Our customers range from automotive, wearables, accessories – the diversity is endless and inspiring for me. The most special honor that comes with my job is that I am the very first person to hold new test parts in my hands.

What would you recommend to someone starting a career in 3D printing?

The 3D printing industry has a lot of potential. There are so many startups as well as talented and creative people. At ACEO® we use the best of both worlds: We are embedded in a global company with a rock-solid backbone. At the same time, we have the freedom of a startup with the development of our technology and the opportunities that arise from it. In a nutshell: we have the priviledge to fully bring our passion and creative spirit into our daily jobs. My advice if you want to work in 3D printing: You should bring both, passion for the technology and courage to think out of the box. The reward: a lot of fun and endless opportunities.

Verifying the dimensions – an insight into Vera’s daily work as interface between design and process (Photo: ACEO®; Wacker Chemie AG)