The additive manufacturing sector will be of great support in the implementation of the EU industry strategy helping supply chains to become more resilient and efficient. During the Additive Manufacturing European Conference (AMEC), which took place on 2 December 2020 online, both policy and industry representatives discussed the state of the art and emerging trends in AM in Europe.
On the occasion of the sixth edition of AMEC, CECIMO, the voice of the European additive manufacturing sector, invited Members of the European Parliament as well as industry representatives to discuss the strategic importance of additive technologies for the European industrial competitiveness.
The event was a great opportunity to discuss how the recent COVID-19 supply chain disruption in the healthcare sector could represent a wake-up call for other industries such as energy, medical and automotive industries. It was generally agreed during the discussions that Europe should channel investment in the application of AM that could support the digital and green transition.
The event was moderated by Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre (EPC) and was divided into two sessions: policy and industry. The policy session was kicked off by MEP Susana Solis Perez (RE) who stressed that the EU needs to strengthen its industry sector to guarantee stable production during difficult times. MEP Solis stated that additive manufacturing significantly contributes in the new EU industrial strategy thanks to its potential to ensure industrial competitiveness and supply chain resilience.
MEP Michael Bloss (Greens/EFA) highlighted that the EU has the opportunity to maintain global leadership in the manufacturing sector by fostering innovation and being a frontrunner on the green #transition.
MEP Christopher Grudler (RE) stated that the EU needs to secure the leading position of AM and advanced manufacturing by investing in initiatives that would promote the development of the right set of skills force and helping the current workforce adapt to the new technological changes in manufacturing.
Stewart Lane General Manager at Renishaw and Chair of the CECIMO Additive Manufacturing Working Group opened the industry session, calling on policymakers to embrace a forward-looking vision for the industry in Europe. He emphasized that ‘’It’s important to use legislation to enable the best use of the technologies such as AM, for example bringing manufacturing back to Europe, and keep an innovation-friendly regulatory framework’’.
The speakers from the industry panel showcased different innovative and beneficial ways of using additive solutions and the different challenges encountered for further adoption in traditional supply chains. Christian Fracassi (Isinnova) claimed that “3D printing enables a global sharing economy cutting production costs and supply chain restrictions”, while Mariel Diaz (Triditive) explained that “Companies interested in using AM need to start from the development of the digital inventories of those parts that they wish to produce. Without this step, the integration of AM will be much more difficult.”
During the Q&A session, the entire panel also discussed how decentralized manufacturing can become a viable solution for different supply chains. Paul Heidens (Ultimaker) argued that “An important aspect of using decentralized manufacturing is to allow the possibility to repair the part directly on-site when needed. This opportunity will be a game-changer for the end-user and the 3d printing industry”. Roberta Sampieri (FCA group) mentioned the challenge to decentralize the production of the automotive sector, claiming that “One factor that could speed-up this transition is the qualification of the printing process and quality assurance of the part”. Angeline Goh (Shell) mentioned that “The adoption of AM in the energy sector will go hand in hand with the standardization of the quality of spare parts production”. Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General, closed the event, calling for financial support to those industries (particularly the SMEs) that wish to increase the resilience of their supply chain.