- 3 March 2017
byFlow is famous for being the first portable and multi-material 3D printer in the world. Having started as a boy’s hobby, presently byFlow is developing into a large-scale business selling 100 printers per month all over Europe and planning to expand its sales overseas.
Story of success
The ever-growing business of byFlow was born in the Hoffs family where Floris Hoff has always nurtured interest in 3D machines. His father – Frits Hoff, has a FabLab equipped with an array of tools and machines and this further enhanced Floris’ passion. Floris was discontented with the big and bulky size of the 3D printers and at some point he came up with the idea of a compact 3D printer which could be easily carried and stored anywhere. Thus, he developed a prototype which could fit in a small suitcase. Then he started questioning why most 3D printers could use only plastic. This is how the idea of a multi-material printer, working with all kinds of paste materials was born, and byFlow came into being.
Every day is different and also very tough but I love it – it’s like seeing my baby grow.”
By now, byFlow has grown into a real company with a team of ten people. Nina Hoff – CEO of byFlow and the person behind the entrepreneurial part of the business – tells us that she loves working in this team: “It’s great to be an entrepreneur! Every day is different and also very tough, but it’s like seeing my baby grow. There is no ceiling in this environment where everything is possible and I just love that. Working with my brother is also totally awesome – we are very different but we work perfectly together.”
At present, the people in the team of byFlow are working really hard because they have “an amazing goal but also a hard target”, as Nina described it – they are planning to sell 1,000 printers by the end of the year. “Now the most important thing for us is to speed up our production, so we can make 100 printers a month.” The team also plan to release their chocolate printer on the market next year. The chocolate printer is specially developed only for chocolate and can use hard chocolate instead of only melted.
Why so successful?
byFlow is the first portable 3D printer capable of using various materials such as ceramic clay for printing ceramic faces or beautifully made cups, rubber for printing special shoe insoles for people who need extra help, and also food, Nina exemplified. byFlow can print anything from white cheese, vegetables, and caviar, to everyone’s favorite treat – chocolate.
As long as one has a paste material at hand, for example a blended carrot, they can put it in the printer and then the nozzle will print it in various and beautifully made forms. Nina anticipated the obvious question – for what reasons would one need to print food? “There are many but the most important one is healthcare. For example in elderly people’s daycare centers, where the food that is served lacks important nutrients and is not tasty. What people there can do instead is deep-freeze all kinds of food, for example vegetables and fruits, then make powder out of it and mix it with other nutritional ingredients, put it in the printer, and then they will have food which is first, nutritious and full of vitamins, second – delicious, and third – beautifully arranged on the plate.”
3D food printing can become essential in hospitals where people can have fresh and healthy food. Also, universities and secondary schools are using the printer for research and experimental purposes. Meat industry companies, herb industry companies, oil and fats industry companies, and companies doing a lot of research and prototyping are also interested in buying the printer, Nina says. Last but not least, innovative restaurants can also use the printer by making food in all kinds of beautiful forms which cannot be done by hand.
“Food is also about experience – what you see and smell”, Nina smiled.
Feature photo: 3D printed cups, plates, and cutlery.
Photos and video: credit by byFlow.