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#TPRCminds: Sebastiaan Haanappel

“I believe a better understanding of how the material behaves during production, will have a long-term, global impact."

In episode 5, Sebastiaan tells his story about his move to Twente to follow a master’s program at the UT and his PhD research at the TPRC. He shares how he and his companion joined forces to make AniForm Engineering a successful adventure and how their software is now used by many entities in the worldwide aerospace industry.

The TPRC has recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The TPRC, which started out small with just a few researchers, has since developed considerably. The key to this success? TPRC’s people, without whose expertise and drive there would be no future. Read other #TPRCminds interviews with Jeroen (Research Engineer), Wouter (Assistant professor), Yannick (PhD Researcher), Ramona (PhD Researcher), Jagadeesh (PhD Researcher), Vanessa (PhD Researcher), and Emiel (Research Engineer).

Favorable business climate

Sebastiaan Haanappel is the father of two young children and co-owner of the successful spin-off AniForm Engineering. He grew up in the Randstad and also lived in Kampen for a while. He is not originally from Twente but settled down here when he started his master’s degree at the University of Twente (UT). He studied Mechanical Engineering at applied sciences level in Zwolle. After that, he wanted to deepen his knowledge and got in touch with the UT. The specialist expertise about thermoplastic composites in Twente, and the favorable business climate for innovative and creative spin-offs are what ultimately made him decide to stay.

Sebastiaan haanappel TPRC AniForm


Sebastiaan was already very interested in composites during his studies in Twente. With the TPRC being located there, Sebastiaan got lucky, since Twente is the place to be when it comes to thermoplastic composites. As TPRC's very first PhD student, Sebastiaan did research on how thermoplastic composites behave during production. After finishing his research, he decided to partner with his current business companion and make AniForm Engineering's composite forming simulation software the golden standard in their targeted market.

Still today, AniForm Engineering works closely with the TPRC, as a highly valued tier-2 partner, and the Production Technology department at the University of Twente. They have specialized knowledge of materials, including thermoplastic composites.

AniForm Engineering

Sebastiaan and his team develop software that simulates the behavior of composite materials during production. They mostly supply their software to the aerospace and automotive industries, where all kinds of structural parts are made from composite materials. AniForm Engineering’s intelligent tool helps these companies to predict what will happen during production and how the product will behave in practice. This means that less material is used and that parts can be constructed in a better and more efficient way.

“With a better understanding of how the material behaves during production, technicians will be able to find the optimal process and product through better reasoning. This allows companies to produce and develop products much more efficiently”, says Sebastiaan. This is not only more cost-effective; it also contributes to a more sustainable world.

“I believe this will have a long-term, global impact. Producing more intelligent reduces emissions and raw materials needed. For example, by reducing the needed amount of materials, constructing parts better and lighter, and by using production resources more efficiently. Composites are used in vehicles, both in the air and on the ground, so making the parts lighter will also reduce fuel consumption and emissions.” Ultimately, AniForm Engineering’s software, therefore, makes a very positive contribution to a solution for our environmental problems.

Opportunities for innovation

“I really like it in Twente, even though I am not originally from here. You can find nature within minutes, and the people are friendly and level-headed. I love mountain biking, and the environment here is perfect for that. Having that freedom is such a luxury.”

Sebastiaan thinks that for him, Twente is the perfect place for developing his company. “It is peaceful here, and there is no busy and competitive atmosphere. This allows you to be as creative as you can be. If you put too much pressure on creativity, it will only backfire. You need mental space to be able to innovate, and you have that here; even as a company.”

Our series #TPRCminds introduces you to the people behind our success. Who are they? What is their background? What drives them and what do they dream about? How do they look at the future of thermoplastic composites? Continue reading other #TPRCminds episodes:

Photos ©Eric Brinkhorst

Sebastiaan was interviewed by Twente.com as part of their series called 'Twente Lives!'. In these series you can read personal stories about living and working in Twente.

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Membership benefits

Being a member of the TPRC will give you:

  • Access to our expert network with 30+ years of experience
  • Access to all the research generated in the field of thermoplastic composites
  • Access to our state-of-the-art laboratory
  • Full or partial voting rights (depending on the type of membership)
  • In addition to memberships, TPRC also works on bilateral and multilateral projects

Is your organization interested in becoming involved with thermoplastic composites?