Speaker Interview: Harrie Sneijers, Sales Manager, Formatec

In this interview we speak to Harrie Sneijers, sales manager at Formatec, about the opportunities for ceramic injection molding and complex parts. Harrie is part of a panel discussion on 'Designing Complex Small Parts for High-Volume Ceramic Injection Molding (CIM) and Dry Pressing' on Wednesday, April 26, 2.45pm at Conference @ Cermaics Expo 2017.

FJ - Fleur Jonker (Conference Producer) 
HS - Harrie Sneijers

FJ: Please tell us about your role at Formatec. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

HS: My role is to bring in new business and manage relations. A big part of the work is to educate people about the ceramic materials and the possibilities they bring. There is a need to do this as there is still little known about the opportunities that advanced ceramics can bring to some end-user markets. Our sales efforts are all focused on winning their confidence that ceramics can do the job. This we do one on one but also through fairs, conferences, and editorials.

FJ: What excites and challenges you about your work?

HS: The real challenge is to promote the adoption of ceramic materials and ceramic injection molding (CIM). People are reluctant or even a bit afraid to apply them due to their lack of experience with these materials compared to metals and polymers. Also, we need them to think from the ceramic point of view so they understand that these materials have a separate set of challenges than metals or polymers. The exciting part of my work is when we achieve awareness of the benefits of ceramics and make them part of a customer’s normal material spectrum. 

FJ: What would you say are the key trends, challenges, and opportunities for the advanced ceramic/glass supply chain at present?

quoteHS: If we could answer these questions we would have commercial gold in our hands. Opportunities can certainly be found in applications that are presently using other materials but need improvement on functionality or endurance. The challenge is to locate the companies that have these needs. The reality is that those “problems” are not discussed openly, which makes it difficult to find them. A trend that seems to develop is for parts with more functionality; in other words, beyond the simple ceramic thread guide or actuator. 

FJ: In which markets are you currently seeing the biggest growth?

HS: The growth in quantity would be probably in the automotive industry, but numbers are not always the defining factor of whether something is interesting. In our opinion, what is most important is if there is a growth in value or added value. This value can be found in complexity, innovations, and so on – this is applicable for a lot of industries.

FJ: What challenges do you currently face along the supply chain? What are the main issues that affect you in this field (technology, regulations, and customer requirements)?

HS: What I see is that the speed of development within the ceramic industry is slow in comparison with what we saw or see in metals and polymers. The main reason is money. Our industry is relatively small and divided in islands of knowledge. There is almost no crossover of knowledge by personnel changes from one to another ceramic company. This affects our position in providing the industry, our customer base, with ceramic answers on new applications.

FJ: You will be speaking in the session Designing Complex Small Parts for High-Volume Ceramic Injection Moulding (CIM) and Dry Pressing. Can you summarize what you will be talking about?

HS: The subject that I would like to speak about is already mentioned in a previous answer. We think there is an added value in production of parts with built-in complexity and/or functionality. Part of the discussion is how to produce these applications within an acceptable price range.

Harrie will be speaking on 'Designing Complex Small Parts for High-Volume Ceramic Injection Molding (CIM) and Dry Pressing' on Wednesday, April 26, 2.45pm at Conference @ Cermaics Expo 2017.