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Belgium excels in 3D printing, thanks to the Leuven innovators Materialise and 3D Systems

15 July 2020

The 3D printing companies in Leuven, such as Materialise and 3D Systems, put our country on the map in the sector.


Who takes the lead in 3D printing? That's the question the European Patent Office asked itself. It compared the number of patents around 3D printing with the total number of patents in the period 2010-2018. Anyone who closes above 1 can claim to specialise in the matter.

This applies to Belgium. With 1.41, our country ranks fourth on the list and is generously ahead of neighbouring countries such as the Netherlands and Germany. They are still above 1. France is no match for us. There the ratio is far below 1 (0.75). The Scandinavian countries, which are usually paragons of knowledge and innovation, do not seem to specialize in technology either.

We owe our good position to one region: Leuven and its surroundings. It ranks ninth out of the fifteen highest ranked European regions for the theme. This is thanks to the presence of companies such as Materialise and 3D Systems in Leuven. The ranking makes it clear that the battle may not be between countries, but between knowledge clusters.

For example, Southeast Brabant (Eindhoven) ranks fifth among the neighbors from Leuven. Between 2000 and 2018, Eindhoven obtained almost 180 patents compared to almost 100 for Leuven.

Source: De Tijd, translated by Leuven MindGate

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