Talking to Rolf Meijer, founder of FEPshop
Groningen (NL) based entrepreneur Rolf Meijer founded FEPshop in early 2017 when he was looking for FEP film for his own SLA projects. It was hard to come by and very expensive so when he found a supplier only willing to ship one-meter-wide rolls he took a deep breath and bought it. First, he supplied friends and other makers, cutting up the roll to resin vat size, but soon resin 3D people found out about him and started to order what they needed. A first simple shop was set up and FEPshop was on its way.
Rolf (52) is an engineer in body and spirit and has an extensive past solving sticky problems with new technology. In the early ‘90s he was already producing 3D video animations for TV for clients such as Philips. Later he developed computer generated content for TV formats, using off-the-shelf PC’s hooked up to the television studio and 2000 phone lines, to name a few of his achievements.
Hi Rolf, what do you do at the FEPshop headquarters on a day-to-day basis?
“Here in Groningen, we have a small team of 12 people so my first order of the day is to check if we are all on the same page and everybody can be as effective as they need to be. At FEPshop it is all about the team, together we make things happen. After that, and my fourth coffee, I will focus on the supply chain: which products are selling well right now and which products need to be ordered so we have a constant supply of popular and top-notch 3D printers and consumables. Recent world-affairs have made this part of the business much more important as most products and innovations come from the far east.”
Rolf continues; “When the web shop is running well, I have my hands free to do more technical and future oriented stuff like experimenting with new products, advising business clients switching to 3D printing, and reading up on industry developments. Then, of course there is the paperwork, not my hobby for sure but part of the package all the same.” Also, development of the organisation as a whole is part of Rolf’s working week; “Except from Fepshop we have set up separate companies Citoforma to service business clients and Distriforma to supply distribution partners all over Europe. These companies combined form the Citoforma Group.”
What form of transportation do you use to get to the office?
“What kind of a question is this? I don’t care about cars. At the moment I’m still driving my old Honda Hybrid. Well over ten years old, ik kept it because it never had a malfunction. But in the last few months it is beginning to show some worrying electronic difficulties. So, I’m on the lookout for a new car. Any suggestions?” (Yes, live a little and buy a classic Saab Rolf!)
Why do you like working at FEPshop?
“The combination of working with young, smart and enthusiastic colleagues, helping people realizing their 3D dreams and thinking up new applications and shaping the future. That may sound bombastic but it is my reality and I love doing it.”
What was your first introduction to 3D printing like?
“I became interested in 3D technology when I started playing with Lightwave on the Commodore Amiga. Amazing technology that we used in my first company to generate 3D animations many years before Pixar produced Toy Story. Years later I found a way to make 3D tangible with 3D printing, a breakthrough moment seeing your designs come to life.”
What do you find fascinating about 3D technology?
“The fast pace of innovation, materials, and technology. It moves so fast, just thinking about the possible applications makes your head spin.”
If you had €1000 to spare, which 3D printer would you buy, or which add-on or consumable?
“I’d buy one of the cheaper but high quality Phrozen printers and some FEP film and a lot of (Phrozen ABS like) resin (black and white), and design and print an amazing chess set.”
If you could print any object in the world, what would you print for yourself?
“A 50 feet yacht to sail our family of 4 to Malaysia.” Rolf smiles, “There we would anchor in a secluded bay where I would spend the days scuba diving and barbecuing.”
What do you expect will happen in 3D printing in the next 5 years?
“I can make an educated guess that (home) 3D printers will keep evolving steadily. But the most interesting evolution or maybe revolutions in the next 5 years will come from new materials.”
What is your personal ambition career wise? Where will you be 10 years from now?
“Hahaha, I printed my 50 feet yacht and I’m sailing the Indonesian archipelago. Just kidding, I love to work and I will probably be working on some new breakthrough technology.”
If you’re not in the office, or at home, where would we find you?
“Oh, that one is easy. We have a lovely little holiday home at a lake in the Dutch province of Drenthe. My wife and our two children love being there and so do I. You know what they say, if the wife and kids are happy, daddy has an easy life.” Rolf grins.
What would you like to share about yourself in addition to the above?
“I’m a lot more optimistic than people seem to think.”