Using 3D printing effectively
3YOURMIND is one of today's leading providers of software solutions for industrial 3D printing
From start-up to big player: 3YOURMIND offers software solutions for additive manufacturing. The company now had to leave the Charlottenburg Innovation Centre (CHIC).
The Charlottenburg Innovation Centre (CHIC) is highly sought after by young companies connecting high-tech with creativity. The building in Bismarckstraße offers an ideal environment to advance their ideas. It’s home to about 60 companies. Until late 2020, one of them was the company 3YOURMIND.
The founders Aleksander Ciszek and Stephan Kühr got a lot of things right in the past six years. Their start-up has grown and is now one of the leading providers of software solutions for additive manufacturing, another word for industrial 3D printing. More than 60 employees are now part of the team. While about two thirds of them are based in Berlin, the other team mates are distributed across Munich, Paris, Novi (Michigan), and San Francisco. The company had simply become too big for CHIC, a type of healthy habitat for start-ups. It was time to make room for new founders.
“3D printing was relatively new in 2014,” says Stephan Kühr. “It’s promise was near unlimited possibilities for designing tools and products.” Together with Aleksander Ciszek from Warsaw, the young industrial physicist from Ulm started off working at the 3D Lab of Technical University Berlin. It quickly became clear to them that the technology bore enormous potential, albeit one that required many individual steps. Too many for large-scale industrial application. These processed would have to be automated to really achieve a breakthrough.
With this in mind, the two founded 3YOURMIND. “We’re a type of SAP for 3D printers,” says Kühr, giving an example for further illustration: for sending out quotes and estimates, for example, customers can let a CAD programme analyse the data, a 3D printer estimate production time, calculate costs in Excel, and have Word create a quote, which is then sent out via e-mail. Customers can also automate the whole procedure by simply entering the respective data and have the software send out quotes to match. Kühr: “This is what we do across the entire process chain from a sketch to a finished component.” By doing so, ideas get to the printer faster, which better utilises the machine and reduces cost. This benefits customers, who include Volkswagen, Continental, Deutsche Bahn AG, and companies in the aerospace industry. “When supply chains collapsed during the coronavirus crisis, the use of 3D printing became abundantly clear,” says the founder. Instead of waiting for parts, some of his customers simply printed what they needed.
Most of the software company’s staff worked from home last year. “This went fairly smoothly, because we had worked in this way before,” says Kühr. The company also had no issue giving up unused rooms. CHIC and its director Lars Hansen were very flexible. “We started out with six people in two offices. Later it went up to 30 employees until we downsized last year – it’s worth a lot, finding somebody who puts up with that and supports you,” he says.
In addition, CHIC offers affordable prices, a reception service, parking, and other organisational services that most start-ups are reluctant to deal with at first. “Most of us grow more accustomed to the role of the entrepreneur over time,” says Hansen. He is aware of the pitfalls on the way to the top: When friends become business partners, the company grows, and things tend to become overwhelming. “My door is always open. I love to help, where help is wanted.”
With that, he is true to the motto of CHIC’s parent company WISTA Management: “we get ideas done”. The idea, says Hansen, is always the decisive step. “That’s where we come in by supporting the people behind it: with our office space and our networks. We want to play a part in getting young companies to not only turn amazing, innovative ideas into successful business models, but also contribute to the economy and society.”
Aleksander Ciszek and Stephan Kühr have certainly mastered this path so far. They successfully completed a funding round last September that will bring 4.7 million euros to their company. They aim to use this to further penetrate the energy sector. “We will continue to grow our staff,” says Kühr. 3YOURMIND’s new headquarters are at Sarotti Höfe in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
By Ralf Nestler for Potenzial – The WISTA Magazine