January 8, 2019

#thisisbyFlow: Meet Sven Nouwens

Who is one of the innovative minds behind our new product? Meet Sven Nouwens, an engineer at byFlow, who worked on byFlow Studio from the very beginning!

To warm up, an easy question - what do you do at byFlow?

It all started with a summer job in 2016 to get all technical drawings sorted out. However, as more challenging and interesting tasks came along, my activities at byFlow diversified. As it is quite obvious by now, the summer of 2016 went by and my job hasn’t stopped. It turned into the hardware engineering of the Focus 3D Food Printer. With my main activities and responsibilities being to redesign the printer, so the assembly would go quicker and components would be easier to produce.

With all the developments of the printer being successful, the hardware improvements became smaller and more nitpicky. It was during that time when we saw that our customers struggle with personalizing their prints. The research for a solution to the personalization problem eventually made me start with software development, next to the hardware related tasks. Hence, my current days are truly diverse.


Ok, so you’ve mentioned working on the software, but wasn’t it just one particular software that you’ve been focused on for over half a year now? Tell us more about it.

The idea for the hardware-to-software development switch came to me after seeing a colleague painstakingly tracing images in 3D modeling software. It was clear that this way of creating 3D models was not for the faint of heart, and our customers would have the same struggles, if not worse. Our goal was to find concepts which would allow our customers to personalize their prints in mere seconds. After a few days of discussing possibilities, the idea really came to life during the weekend when I created a proof of concept version. Looking back on it now, I think that it was barely usable at best. However, it did show the feasibility. Hence, this is how byFlow Studio was born. The new product of byFlow - an online software that enables everybody to easily create personalized prints within a few minutes. It is as simple as uploading an image and a few clicks later, you get the ready to print file which can be directly send to the Focus 3D Food Printer.


As the father of byFlow Studio, I believe we can call you so, how are you feeling about the fact that it has been officially launched?

It is easily forgotten how much we’ve achieved during the development phase. From proof of concept, through a bare bones version, to the user friendly online tool. Because of that, and all the learning done with our team along the way, I could only be proud of the result. The fact that the software has been already launched is all the more exciting and I can’t wait to see our customers using it and personalizing their prints with ease.


How does one find such an amazing student job as in 3D Food Printing company? Or maybe it was byFlow that found you?

I’ve got in touch with byFlow via a friend of mine who saw the job listing for a part-time student. The whole concept of 3D Food Printing, a back-then starting business and the (in hindsight elusive) 3D printed nutella sandwich which was promised, convinced me to take r the job. Besides never receiving the promised sandwich with 3D printed nutella, working at byFlow turned out to be an amazing learning experience.


What do you value most about working in such an innovative field and in the start-up-style environment?

The first thing I’ve noticed when I just started working at byFlow was how you get involved in every part of the business. Things like: handling the external contacts and being up to speed with  the company’s decisions are just a small grasp of things you rarely find in larger companies. With this comes also great responsibility, as there are no large project teams that split the work into tiny bits. Working in a small team also enables every colleague to make a big impact on the company, as everyone's input counts. Lastly, the opportunity to create something truly innovative is one of a kind. - with the aforementioned byFlow Studio being a prime example of this. The whole software project simply started by encountering a problem among the colleagues and this developed into a product. Working in a start-up-style company is therefore really rewarding.


How do you see the future of 3D Food Printing?

In the not too distant future I see 3D food printing growing in the professional market to the point, where it is not unusual to see the 3D Food Printer next to the traditional kitchen equipment. Furthermore, I believe that printers will shine in highly customized production. Hence, it will be a new tool utilized by people with its own added value and not a replacement of existing technologies. I think that at this point in the future, encountering 3d printed and personalized dishes would be just as standard as ordering something baked or fried.


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