We are not a political publication, we don’t understand the global geopolitical scenario enough to write about it. This is reason enough to try to stay as far away from politics as we can. We are a tech business portal and we believe that 3D printing business can unite the world, not divide it. But the Russian military invasion of Ukraine is affecting many of our friends and partners around the world, so we just can’t ignore it. Especially as Ukrainian friends, and others forced to seek refuge from the war in the countryside or in missile shelters as we write, ask us to speak out.
As a technology and business portal we can and should report any time business strategy is affected and, in this sense, the decision by German sand and polymer binder jetting 3D printing provider voxeljet to not deliver any new products, spare parts, or services to customers in Russia and Belarus, as long as the Russian and Belarusian military is in the Ukrainian border area, is a business decision caused by this war. Other 3D printing market leaders, such as 3D Systems and EOS, also have stopped all business with Russian customers (making exceptions only for urgent medical applications).
“The decision was not easy for us,” said Rudolf Franz, COO and CFO at voxeljet, “as we have maintained very good business relations with our dealers and our customers in Russia and Belarus for many years—we would like to take this opportunity to thank our dealers and all our customers in Russia and Belarus for their trust over the past years. But after the incredibly brutal and intolerable actions of the Russian and Belarusian governments and their military against the Ukrainian people in recent days, it was ultimately inevitable to reconsider our activities in Russia and Belarus. We hope the best for the people in Ukraine and will try to support our distributor and our customers in Ukraine as much as possible in this difficult time.”
Having traveled the 3D printing world, we are certain of one thing: we are all very much the same with only very minor differences that can be exploited by some to divide. The war in Ukraine has many reasons, that go beyond the will of a single man, no matter how much power he has and how autocratic his rule may be. But it is undeniably wrong and it has to stop. Whatever reasons the Russian government may use to justify the attacks cannot possibly be sufficient to justify the loss and disruption of human lives—across both sides of the border.
Because, while the Ukrainian people are dying and being displaced, many Russians that have nothing to do with this war, have also had their lives and businesses dramatically affected. Not the oligarchs, who may have just lost a minor part of their wealth, but the people who work every day to build a life and maybe did so by opening up to the West, like so many 3D printing entrepreneurs and startups.
Oerlikon Chairman of the Board, Michael Suess, provided the clearest description of the current situation that I have seen: “The invasion on Ukraine, which is contrary to international law,” he wrote, “is a devastating event that affects not only Europe but the whole world. The suffering of everyone in Ukraine is terrible, and our thoughts are with all Ukrainians who fear for their lives, their family and their homes. The long-term economic consequences of this conflict, initiated by the Russian regime, cannot even be estimated at this point. We can only hope that the Russian government quickly comes to its senses and ceases its hostile actions to instead resolve this conflict through peaceful talks.
“Likewise, I hope that both the inhabitants of Russia and the numerous Russian citizens in other European countries will not be held responsible for the actions of their government. We must make a distinction between the warmongering Russian government and the Russian population or citizens of Russian origin. Many of them strongly denounce their government’s war of aggression. The Russian citizens suffer not only from the economic sanctions but also that they can only express their opinion freely with personal peril. Level headiness and a discriminating view are called for rather than generalized judgments.”
Oerlikon is also launching an internal fundraising campaign for the victims of the war, where the amount donated by employees will be matched by the company. Many others have offered to help their Ukrainian employees and refugees with support, internships, and relocation. We’ve heard from Professor Jos Malda at Utrech University offering paid internships in bioengineering and ETH in Zurich making efforts “to support and take in students and researchers from Ukraine,” as said by ETH President Joël Mesot. The amount of support in question is currently being explored in depth. These are just a few recent examples.
Yesterday, I spoke with my friend Oleg Popov, who runs the Facebook community on 3D Construction Printing and is developing his own 3D Plodder construction 3D printing technology. He is now in Kyiv and he showed me the continuous alerts he receives for incoming missile strikes. We also spoke with This is inconceivable and unjustifiable. Some of the 3dpbm team have friends or even relatives that are now in Ukraine fighting for their country.
But we have also heard from our friends and network partners at Russian 3D printing media 3D Today, who are understandably staying away from political coverage and continue to hope the situation will soon go back to normalcy. We’ve heard from Anna Zevelyov, who has been building her Thor 3D scanner production company with a base in California and is much less optimistic about the outcome of this situation.
Fedor Antonov, Founder and CEO of Anisoprint, was born in the USSR to Polish Jewish parents, and he explained that “despite what one may say about this no-longer-existing country, the most important values that I’ve absorbed being a child were peace and progress. The war that was unleashed by the Russian government in Ukraine is completely contrary to these values. I’m sure that most Russians, both in Russia and abroad, share these values and will stand for them.”
No matter the reasons, war cannot and must not be the answer. This has to stop.