Luc Pattyn joined the plastics industry in 2018 when he became the sales & marketing director at Fontijne Presses. A market leader producing laboratory platen presses, Fontijne Presses is represented in the UK by Intelicare. Read on to see if the PlastikMedia HotSeat can press any exciting news from Luc…
What trends do you think will shape the future of UK plastics? How will Fontijne Presses respond?
Everybody is confronted with challenges like the increasing cost of living and energy consumption; companies have to pay more and more attention to sustainability. We foresee opportunities in creating new kinds of plastics or composites; our lab presses are used in many R&D laboratories where new materials are developed. Plastic recycling will be a hot topic in the coming years as well. Specimens of recycled materials are made on our presses and tested on other lab instruments to check the quality of the recycled material. Although our machines have a compact design and a small footprint, we always look at how we can obtain the same results with less energy or lighter materials. We offer extensive and in-depth customising options on our various models to ensure the press will meet all the requirements. Because of their reliability and solid build quality, our presses offer a remarkably long lifespan; 20 years or more is no exception. That is a contribution to sustainability that should not be underestimated.
How have Fontijne Presses developed during your tenure?
During my time at Fontijne Presses, we were able to grow significantly. We introduced our manually operated lab presses, LabManual 50 and 300, and added the LabEcon 1000 to the existing range of automated LabEcon presses. Manual presses are intended for situations in which only a limited number of samples must be prepared. If you need only a couple of specimens per day or the press is only used every two weeks, a manual press can be a more effective alternative. If you require a more considerable output and the press is daily in use, you should opt for an automated press. That’s why we see these manually operated presses also as a valuable addition to the automated press, as a kind of backup press for specific tasks in order not to interrupt the big output cycles on the automated press. Not only did our product portfolio become large, but we also broadened our network of local distribution and service partners such as Intelicare as well. After-sales service starts as soon as the hydraulic compression moulding presses leave our factory. We believe that high-quality machines need first-class service. That’s why we have several experienced service engineers available who can quickly be deployed worldwide for preventive maintenance and calibration services. Moreover, our end users appreciate the presence of local service teams.
What do you credit as the key to your success?
Fontijne Presses exclusively manufactures laboratory presses. All our efforts and research are focused on laboratory compression moulding presses, nothing else. We offer extensive and in-depth customising options on our various models to ensure your press will meet all your requirements. Each lab press is designed in-house by an experienced engineering team. All presses are built in our factory in Delft, the Netherlands.
What has been the greatest challenge in your career?
The greatest challenge was the past 2-3 years. Suddenly, due to the pandemic, we could not visit our potential customers or show our products at trade shows. So we had to devise creative solutions to reach our target audience. And even in these difficult times, as far as the supply chain is concerned, we can still maintain the quick delivery times for our products. In 4 weeks, we can ship our LabManual presses; in 8 weeks, our automated LabEcon series is ready to be picked up by the forwarder. That’s a great challenge and not easy to realise, but the whole Fontijne team manages it!
What advice do you wish you’d had on entering the industry, and does that differ from the advice you would give to an apprentice joining now?
I only entered the plastics industry in 2018, so I can only give some general advice. There have been a lot of innovations and technological evolutions since I started; that’s why it is probably even more important than before they pay attention to the human factor. Don’t just write emails; pick up the phone, speak with each other, and ask questions. Try to learn from experienced colleagues. Listen to them and combine that knowledge with the advanced techniques and possibilities you grew up with.
What hidden talents do you have?
Being a Belgian, I guess I could ride a bicycle before I could walk, and I still enjoy riding a bike. But hiking is my favourite leisure activity. I live in a beautiful region in Germany where woods and hills are nearby, and we discover new places almost every weekend. And I try to go to the Alps once or twice a year.