Making it Work: 3D printing company Kerry targets German and Nordic market expansion

Wazp, the 3D printing company based in Tralee in County Kerry, plans to expand internationally in the coming months by expanding into the German and Nordic markets. The company, created in 2015 by Shane Hassett and Mariana Kobal, currently has 18 employees.

The company provides direct design and development services to businesses and consumers using a process known as additive manufacturing, which builds the product one layer at a time. The nature of its manufacture allows it to either ship the product directly to the end customer or print it on site for the customer, if they have access to a 3D printer.

“99% of the time we do the design work from scratch,” Hassett told the Business post. “Once a file is developed and the customer is happy with the shape and form, after seeing the prototypes, we move on to the implementation phase, down to the type of printer in question.

“Our model is built around decentralization, digitalization and demand drivers. Decentralization means we build it as close as possible to where and when the customer needs it. »

The digitization aspect involves Wazp keeping the files in their digital format, allowing it to create libraries to reproduce or modify the designs at any time.

“The demand-driving aspect means we are creating a 1:1 supply-demand ratio. This means we don’t overproduce with parts in stock hoping they will sell out. It also means we don’t underproduce, because underproduce means lost opportunity,” Hassett said.

“We currently use powdered plastics like nylon. We are also looking for more sustainable polymers from natural sources. Every product we produce is cut into thousands of layers with a laser to create the finished product.

The process is visually arresting: when powders are fused together to form the finished piece, like an artistic model of a hand the company created for Ikea. The loose powder collects in a cube shape around the final design as it exits the printer. A light tap, and it drops to reveal the finished piece.

Hassett and Kobal, originally from Ukraine, first met while working together at a company in Poland. They developed the basic Wazp idea while there, but Hassett found the combination of support and skills in Ireland more suited to growing the business.

“I was on a week’s holiday at home and someone suggested I speak to Enterprise Ireland. Within two weeks we were accepted into the New Frontiers program in Tralee and we haven’t looked back We are in the high potential start-up unit, although we are almost at the end of this program,” he said.

The project with Ikea began in 2017, delivering the manual model to 50% of its stores worldwide. Since then, the company has focused more on direct-to-consumer sales, with a location in Germany to enable direct shipment to customers there. The project is currently being extended to the Nordic countries to enable more direct sales to consumers in these markets.

“The world is realizing that there needs to be supply chains that are more agile and less susceptible to disruption. That’s what we built,” Hassett said.

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