The ‘Metal Head’: From leaving school to pioneering in 3D printing – part I

Frank Herzog and his wife Kerstin
Frank Herzog and his wife Kerstin

Frank Herzog was still in elementary school in Bamberg, Bavaria (Germany) when he fell in love with metals and a few years later he left high school early to pursue his passion. “Already as a little boy, I felt that I love this material,” Herzog tells.

Translated from German, original article: GE Reports Germany

More than three decades later, his fascination for shining objects is unbroken. Frank Herzog is the founder and CEO of Concept Laser, a pioneer in the 3D printing industry and industrial additive manufacturing. Concept Laser’s equipment is capable of manufacturing delicate jewellery and dental implants, as well as powerful engine blocks for trucks (see video).

Last autumn, GE acquired a majority of shares in Herzog’s company and today, Concept Laser is part of GE Additive, which focuses on the development of 3D printers, materials and engineering consulting services.

The now 45-year-old Frank Herzog grew up in a region almost obsessed with engineering; the share of mechanical engineers in Bavaria alone amounts to 17 percent. Herzog’s family however sold clothes as his grandparents were owner of a fashion store in the city of Munich.

Herzog’s mother inherited the shop, while his father owned a small construction company and designed and built the house of the family. “I think I owe my entrepreneurial skills to my mother, and my technical understanding to my father,” Herzog says.

Herzog’s first hand-held prototype of a 3D printer
Herzog’s first hand-held prototype of a 3D printer

Young Frank kept his hands dirty. At the age of 14, he fired the engine of a small motorcycle and drove its top speed from 25 to 100 kilometres per hour. “This wasn’t allowed, but really awesome,” he relives the moment. “I’ve turned it into a true racing machine.”

His interest in being technically busy were part of the reason Herzog left high school early, after which for three years he was educated in a factory where he soaked up all information he could get about manufacturing. “I learned how to drill and work with a lathe and milling machine,” Herzog tells. The programme in the factory increased his appetite and curiosity.

Herzog went back to school to graduate and then enrolled for a mechanical engineering degree at the University of Coburg. When he met fellow student Kerstin Hofmann in the lecture hall in Coburg, his relationship with metals was renewed and became deepened, since after a few dates, Kerstin – whose family owned several companies and factories around Bamberg – suggested he should do some work for her father instead of earning money as a mason in the weekend. “However, in my opinion, this put me in the role of potential son-in-law a bit early,” says Herzog and laughs.

Continue to read part II.

Photo credits: Concept Laser