Interview with Florian De Boeck: Spentys

Florian De Boeck is a serial entrepreneur who has always felt the urge to build and create. He has a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from the Politecnico di Milano, in Italy. At the age of 21, he started working for Engineer Without Borders in Madagascar, Congo, and Burundi. The objective was to help hospitals improve their waste management. After this first professional experience, Florian decided to set out to apply 3D printing technology to orthopedics. Florian is the co-founder of Spentys, a medical platform enabling healthcare providers to create patient-specific orthoses and prostheses cheaper and faster, thanks to 3D technologies. Today, Spentys has around 30 employees, has raised VC money, and is quickly growing. The solution is now available in more than 20 countries around the world and is used on a daily basis by more than 100 medical professionals. Florian has also launched a coworking space in Brussels (SanoHub, meaning the Healthy Hub) and has re-started the Family Brewery with his brothers and sister (De Boeck Family Brewery). Florian is still active and traveling for Engineer Without Borders during his free time. Florian will be speaking at the upcoming 3DHEALS virtual event focusing on 3D printing O&P.

When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing?

Florian: The first time I saw a 3D printer was in high school. You know those old fashion “DIY” FDM 3D
printers. Low cost. Easy to set up. Easy to use. And that brings a lot of possibilities and
opportunities to students. It really helped students to think outside the box and imagine new
ways to not only produce objects but also new ways to design and create the end-products. It
was used by students from a lot of different industries: architecture, medical, manufacturing,
engineering, etc.

I therefore had to try myself and get to know this new technology. Unfortunately, at that time
there was a huge lack of accessibility to materials. They were either way too expensive or they
even didn’t exist for the type of printer I had. I was very disappointed. I saw the opportunity but
also the gap to make this technology a reality in our industries.

Of course, it is completely different now. BASF, Solvay, HP and all the big players have seen the
potential of the technology and have heavily invested in the development of the materials and
the technologies. Which makes this innovation a real game changer that will undoubtedly
disrupt many sectors.

What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing?

Florian: With my cofounder Louis-Philippe Broze, we’ve always felt the needs to have impact on people.
To create a product that will help people daily. And enhance the way they speak, move or live.

To build a company with the only purpose of creating a community to change and revolutionize
an industry.

By bringing 3D technologies to the medical industry, we could finally improve the quality of life
of people with orthopedic disabilities.

Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing?

Florian: Mmmh, that’s a little hard to say. I don’t have anyone specific in mind, but I can say that I have
drawn inspiration from e a few companies and institutions that have for sure driven the industry
forward. Through their audacity, their perseverance, and motivation.

Ultimaker and HP are now the leaders of the 3D printing industry. They have succeeded to make
3D printers accessible. They have facilitated the adoption of these technologies.

Another source of inspiration is the Shapr3D modeling software. They have succeeded to
simplify what everyone thought was impossible; their design engine is so impressive! Their
UI/UX is clearly leading the way for all the other design CAD/CAM software.

Last but not least, we must applaud the early adopters of the solution. We wouldn’t be here
without their help and their support. They give us daily feedback and guide our development to
make sure we create adoption. We see more and more 3D labs in hospitals. They are the real
stars here.

What motivates you the most for your work?

Florian: It is a tough journey to bring innovation into the industry. Changing the traditional way of
making an orthosis or a prosthesis by implementing 3D technologies is challenging, but also
exciting. But knowing you are doing the right thing for the people helps us to keep going! That’s
what drives us every day.

I have also the chance of having an amazing team next to me. The people working at and for
Spentys are extraordinary. There are not working for the money. There are not working for the
facility of their work. They work hard because they believe in the project and the product. They
believe in our ability to make 3D a reality in the orthopedic industry.

I must work hard to give back to them. At least what they give to Spentys, if not more.

What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work? If you have conquered them, what were your solutions?

Florian: It is clear to me that the biggest challenge for Spentys is the adoption of the technology.
Bringing a technological innovation into a traditional market is difficult. Changing the mindset of
clinicians who have been trained for years with traditional methods and who might not see the
pitfalls of the methods that they currently use.

This challenge is not something that we can conquer alone but will take the collaborative efforts
of everyone within the industry to drive this transition and change towards digital technology.

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)?

Florian: The industry is still advancing, and the available capabilities are somewhat limited. We see this in the limited selection of materials currently available, the equipment cost for high-end printers
and for us in the medical space, the expertise required for manual post-processing.

If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be?

Florian: Hahaha. My first wish would probably be 10 more wishes. But if I would pick just three that
affect my work, I probably wish for an improved healthcare system that utilizes technology and
ensures that every patient gets the best care available. I would wish for multi-material high-speed printers and for Spentys to help 10 million people around the world.

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

Florian: Perseverance is key. And I mean it! Don’t give up – push as hard as you can to make your
solution a reality for your customers.

Push but also listen to the market. It is key to always improve your solution based on the
market’s needs. Get as much feedback as possible and show the improvements to your
customers. The market should drive your development and should guide your strategy.

Designing 3D Printed Medical Devices

Crossing the 3D Printing Chasm: Bringing Optimization to the Masses

How AI and 3D Printing Enhance Crafting Custom Orthotics and Prosthetics

3D Printed Orthotics and Prosthetics (On Demand)

3D Printed Prosthetics

Parameters to Consider For Prosthetic and Orthotic Workflow