Interview: Karsten Schlichter, Elkem Silicones

Karsten Schlichter has been working in the Silicone industry for over 25 years. He has held various positions in sales, marketing, purchasing and strategy throughout his career. Karsten has an MSc in business and economics from the University Stuttgart. He spent most of his working life in establishing and growing new and emerging applications in industries as different as Pulp &Paper, Construction, Energy, Healthcare etc.. Karsten is currently holding the position as a Business Development Manager at Elkem Silicones (former Bluestar Silicones). He is leading the Additive Manufacturing / 3D Printing project for Elkem Silicones worldwide. His vision is that, to quote JM Keynes, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping old ones”. Mr. Schlichter will be a speaker at #3DHEALS2018.
Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?
Karsten: After some sporadic exposure as a consumer during the last decade, the real adventure started 5 years ago when we decided on a company level to have a look at the potential for silicones by 3D Printing. This was a real new experience, as it had never been done before on a professional level, and seeing that this really was possible was exciting.
Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey/company/career/research in 3D printing (bio-fabrication/bio-printing)?
Karsten: I have been creating and developing new applications and business through all my career and I had the impression that this was again something new and great for the future.
Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing (bio-printing/bio-fabrication)? This can be a mentor, a patient, a celebrity, anyone basically. You can name more than one as well.
Karsten: I’ve no particular person in mind, the pioneers of 3D Printing, but essentially all the passionate people and all those who against all predictions and headwinds persisted and continued their efforts to develop 3D Printing.
Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work?
Karsten: A passionate task to develop, work with people passionate by their work, exchange and drive forward
Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?
Karsten: Convince people about the interest of new visions, create interest and change their mindset, being able to get the parts of the puzzle and create the whole picture.
Discussions, sharing on a personal level has remained the most convincing part of finding solutions
Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?
Karsten: There are still many technical problems to be solved in order to obtain the needed performance levels requested by the final customers. This will need the allocation of resources even though the economical outcome is uncertain. Taking risks is still needed. Another point is linked to the specific competencies needed for 3D Printing and the training and mindset. Future generations of designers, engineers, developers, researchers etc. with a 3D Printing mindset will be needed in order to take the 3D Printing technology to others levels.
Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?  
Karsten: Related to my professional life I would say,

  • More time
  • More resources
  • Keep me healthy

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore?

Karsten: Follow your interests, without passion you will struggle in life.
Listen to the others,
Build up your own mind
Be open-minded and constructively critical towards people “knowing” how the world turns and runs.
Jenny: If you could have a giant billboard to promote a message to millions and even billions of people in our community (i.e. healthcare 3D printing and bio-fabrication), what message would that be?
Karsten: Explore the potential of 3DPrinting / Additive Manufacturing – a new Dimension to enhance Life
Jenny: What were/was the best investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Karsten: To have started working in this for this application technology and gained insight into the potential for shaping the future
Jenny: What were/was the worst investment you made in 3D printing/bio-printing/bio-fabrication?
Karsten: Nothing so far
Jenny: What was/is the biggest risk you took in your career?
Karsten: Life is a risk, don’t know what it could mean especially for my career
Jenny: What do you enjoy in your spare time? What are you passionate about outside of your work/3d printing?
Karsten: Even though I’m traveling a lot for business I still love traveling, meeting people, music, arts, sports, reading, good food & wine new tastes around the world, being curious about life
Jenny: What is your favorite quote? Why?
Karsten: “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”
JM Keynes
The world ie Nature is a dynamic system and will evolve inevitably, as it has been all along its existence. The future will be different and we should be proactively shaping the world, based on the experience of the past but created with the vision of the future
Jenny: What does the word “3DHEALS” mean to you?  =)
Karsten: Enthusiasm, Energy, Motivation.