Variation, diversity and seeing your own design being produced

Published on by Development & Engineering

System architect Mike Curvers (47), started his career as electronics engineer at Philips. Not long after that he transferred to Te Strake, one of NTS’ predecessors. There he could do what he still loves doing most: developing machines in which highly precise movements take place. Mike wants to be able to fully understand an overall system and to grasp exactly what happens. At NTS he never gets bored. “NTS develops a wide variety of products for totally different customers. What you find here is a combination of many different products and production of small series. You see your designs come to live and being produced here.”

Mike’s interest in technique started at a young age. “For a very long time my hobby has been gliding”, he enlightens. “I have always liked technology but when I was young, I didn’t do much with it at home. At the moment that I needed to choose a study I wanted to become a pilot in the first place. That didn’t work out and that is why I chose air and space technology at the Technical University in Delft.”

Electronics was most appealing

“In the first year I came to the conclusion that I found electronics most appealing. It was kind of mystical. That is why I transferred to Eindhoven University to study electrical engineering. Power electronics and engines where the subjects that interested me most and that is why I performed my graduate research at OCÉ. It concerned the main engine of a copying machine.”

Propulsion is tangible

“After that, I started at Philips in Hasselt, where they made CD-players. We built test lines that were developed further in China. That is when I found out that I am mainly interested in propulsion. Electronics is a relatively invisible field, when smoke doesn’t come out of the machine it is okay, you could say. When it comes to engines you see action, motion of parts, it is really tangible.”

Transferred to NTS’ predecessor and stayed ever since

“At the moment that Te Strake, NTS’ predecessor, opened its company doors during an open day, I went to take a look. At NTS I could work on propulsion systems. That was twenty years ago and now I still work here. A lot has changed since then. The company has professionalised enormously. Although back then we already were a forerunner when it came to our machines for textile printing for instance. That was a highly innovative product.”

Understanding exactly what happens

“Back then those machines were entirely mechanical. At a later moment in time they became mechatronic: a combination between electronics, software and mechanics. The textile printer is an example of an extensive project I worked on. It is a system printer, motion control in this case is very complex, the ink needs end up in the exact right position. I want to be able to understand exactly what happens and I want to see that it works.”

I want to comprehend an overall system 

“On the one hand NTS develops and produces parts of machines that are on the edge of what is feasible. On the other hand, we design, develop and produce complete machines that are complex because of the total number of components. This matches my wishes as I want to be able to comprehend an overall system.”

From electronics engineer to System Architect

“I started as an electronics engineer and grew and developed to a system architect, mainly by doing and seeing a lot. Learning on the job actually, complemented by a number of courses in the field of architectural methods and motion control. In order to become system architect, you mainly need to have a wide general interest. A study like electronics or mechatronics offers you this generic view.”

Motion control is comprehensive

“Motion control is a very specific part of my work. It is about the movement of a machine. You for instance need to make sure that an inkjet-machine fires the droplets towards a substrate at the exact right moment. A few micrometres deviation will result in a low-quality image. Motion control is a comprehensive subject. It involves a lot of different disciplines.”

Wide variety in work is good

“I personally really like working for NTS. Else I wouldn’t still be working here after twenty years. The good thing about NTS is that NTS has many different clients and that you get to see a lot of different products because of this. When you choose to work for an employer that only makes one product, it would be a lot more limited.”

You see your own design being produced here

“What you learn at one client, you apply at another. The diversity of NTS is unique, even more so given the fact that we manufacture products inhouse. It is a combination of many different products and building series. You can see your own design being produced here.”

Never a dull moment at NTS

“Furthermore, the company is small enough to know a lot people but also large enough to offer you a stable environment and a lot of courses. Openness and a lot of freedom are characteristic for the company’s culture. You have quite a lot of freedom in what you do and you get a lot of responsibility. You never get bored here, not even after twenty years.”

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