Leapfrog 3D Printers, a Dutch company that sells the Creatr, Creatr XL, and Xeed 3D printers, has just recently opened brand new headquarters.
To commemorate the occasion, Replicator World interviewed Saswitha de Kok, Leapfrog’s Commercial Director.
Before entering the 3D printing industry, Ms. de Kok worked at an insurance company. These days, however, Ms. de Kok is “responsible for all marketing and distribution of Leapfrog 3D Printers…needless to say I am really pleased with the transfer, since I get…excited every day about the endless possibilities of 3D printing and the numerous possible applications for different types of users.”
With the grand opening of Leapfrog’s new HQ in April, de Kok explains that “the new space allows us to host many workshops and potential clients [in the Xperience Center.] At HQ we perform all R&D and marketing and sales activities, [since] we already had our own production facilities elsewhere in Europe. This is a main asset for us: we are one of the few producers of 3D printers globally that can produce on a large scale and also scale up anytime we need to (and we need to a lot).”
“For the company as a whole we will continue to educate the market and the different user groups on how they can use 3D printing to add value for their businesses, clients, research, patients, or students. We do this in different ways: we build partnerships with clients in each of these industries so we can help them uncover all the benefits of 3D printing…and we learn from their needs.”
For example, Leapfrog partners with “Airbus in Toulouse and the VU Medical Centre in Amsterdam. The insights we get from these partnerships we share with people [curious about using 3D printing].” Leapfrog also shares these insights in workshops (for architects, schools, and retailers) and in retailer reports.
Ms. de Kok says that in terms of future goals for Leapfrog, they are planning to advance their presence in the filament department. “Besides a great 3D printer and good software, you need the right kind of filament for your specific business or research needs. We will [make sure we’re the partner who can] fulfill those needs.”
One of the main features of Leapfrog’s new HQ is the Xperience center. As Ms. de Kok explains, “the Xperience center is the space where we are now hosting our workshops for different user groups and where we host our Info Afternoons (every last Friday of the month).” These Info Afternoons are for people who want to learn more about 3D printing. The Xperience center will also feature “Expert Sessions, where we have experienced 3D printer users come by for discussions and presentations on advanced printing.”
“At Leapfrog 3D Printers, we are committed to helping the next generation of users develop the skills needed for 3D printing, [which] they will surely need in their future. The types of skills students can acquire from 3D printing are very broad and go beyond mechanical or design skills: our curricula touch upon subjects as wide as history and biology and are based on problem solving cases. Again, we believe in working with partners and leveraging their experiences so their peers can benefit from it: that is why the curricula (one for primary (elementary) school and one for high school) were developed [in conjunction] with schools that actually developed and tested the lesson plans in schools. In addition, we offer discounts on our printers for all educational institutes.”
Even though Leapfrog has moved their headquarters, their sister company, AV Flexologic, is still just down the hallway. We asked Ms. de Kok about AV Flexologic: “AV Flexologic makes machines for the flexographic industry. Put simply, these machines take care of the different stages in which you prepare flexographic plates and ‘mount’ them on the spools that go into the machines that print packages. Leapfrog 3D Printers first [originated with] the idea to 3D print these flexographic plates. While that didn’t work out, the [founders of] Leapfrog 3D Printers did come to two conclusions: a 3D printer could be used to print the specialized parts for the machines and they [the founders] could actually develop a better 3D printer than the one they bought online. That is how the Creatr was developed and how our company started.”
Fast-forward to today, and it is clearly evident Leapfrog has come a long way. Along with the grand opening of the new HQ, Leapfrog also announced the launch of a brand new printer: the Creatr XL this past February. “It can print three times higher than its little sister, the Creatr, which already had a very good build size to begin with. Leapfrog 3D Printers believes in offering multiple 3D printers for multiple usage cases: we have the Creatr for semi-professional and professional users and schools, the Xeed for professional users that use the printer in a network setting and have many print jobs done by many people, and now we have the XL which satisfied the need for larger prototypes and products. Leapfrog always focuses on awesome designs for its printers: any new printer we bring out will have an awesome look as well.”
Along with this announcement, Leapfrog was also able to collaborate with several different creators: “We printed [all 980 buildings of the Forbidden City at scale 1:300]…with museum De Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam for the occasion of their Ming dynasty exhibition. It took two Creatrs four months of working day and night to get all the buildings ready. We decided to take on the project for two reasons: one is that we really wanted to showcase 3D printing to the general public and have them become familiar with it, the second reason was that we took this opportunity to show architects the possibilities of developing scale models through this project.”
Another collaboration Leapfrog began was with high-end designer Karim Rashid. Ms. de Kok says, “for now, this wonderful collaboration is all about ‘democratizing design’ as Karim Rashid himself calls it. The beauty about it is that if you now want a high-end design, you do not have to go to a designer store: you can just print it yourself and vary the shapes and colors just to your liking. People can print seven Karim Rashid original designs on their Leapfrog 3D printer. All designs can be used directly in your [home’s] interior, whether it is the lamp, vase, or the phone speaker. We are very proud of this project.” So proud in fact, that Ms. de Kok’s favorite Leapfrog 3D printed products “are the Karim Rashid designs because I actually can use them myself: the lamp and the vase are part of my own [home’s] interior. This was really the first time for me as a personal user that I could see 3D printing add value for my own private situation.”
That is the power of Leapfrog, and 3D printing in general, according to de Kok. “We see that for most people 3D printing is still quite abstract: they have heard of it but they still cannot relate it to their own situation. Whenever we demonstrate the printer, they get very excited since they finally grasp how they can use the technique to their advantage. We even had quite a few multinational companies coming by here that are globally known for their innovative edge, that just light up seeing the Creatr at work and think of a dozen ways [they can use the printer]. That is truly amazing to see happen in front of you.”
Photos and Quotes Courtesy of Saswitha de Kok and Leapfrog 3D Printers