On the occasion of 3dpbm‘s newest AM Focus, this time zooming in on Barcelona 3D printing companies, we are back with a new appointment for our series on global 3D printing hubs. This time we are highlighting some of the companies that make up one of the first and most important hubs for additive manufacturing at all levels: not just for industrial and consumer 3D printing but also for design and architecture.
There are literally dozens of companies active in the Barcelona 3D printing scene (as always you can find the complete list on 3dpbm’s Index, or just put the term “Barcelona” in the Location search window) and it is no coincidence that HP has placed its global 3D printing headquarters and Innovation Center of Excellence here. The presence of one of the world’s largest 3D printing companies has helped to drive the AM industry’s evolution but the origins of 3D printing in Barcelona go a lot farther back.
Suport a la impressió 3D/
Support for 3D printing
The local institutions and government have also recognized the great potential of 3D printing and have been very supportive of new initiatives. Generalitat de Catalonia created a Global 3D Printing Hub in Barcelona to partner with the private sector in the research, innovation and technology transfer of additive manufacturing to industry, pledging 28 million euros by 2020. The platform is supported by companies, technology centers and research centers such as HP, Renishaw, Eurecat-Leitat, Fira de Barcelona and the Institute of Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), among others.
Another interesting private initiative is the IAM 3D Hub, which was established to become a meeting point and a shared work center for private companies, public agents and research centers at local and international level. Specifically, IAM 3D Hub aims to accelerate the adoption and development of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies in the European Union manufacturing sectors as an alternative way to design, develop and manufacture new competitive products and services that strengthens their competitiveness.
HP’s Center of Excellence brings together hundreds of the world’s leading additive manufacturing experts in more than 150,000 square feet (about 14,000 square meters) of cutting-edge innovation space – about the size of three football fields – to continue HP’s mission to transform the way the world designs and manufactures. The Eurecat and Letitat technology centers bring together industry and scientific research to push advancements in manufacturing and other key segments such as materials, biotechnology and energy.
In the field of biotechnology, IBEC, the Catalan Institute for Bioengineering, has conducted cutting edge projects involving skin and tissue bioprinting on an internally developed bioprinter. As a partner in the Global 3D Printing Hub, it has joined forces with Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic to conduct 3D bioprinting research for cancer treatments; and has made advances in the field of 3D printable biocompatible hydrogels.
Ampliant les fronteres del 3D/
Widening the frontier of 3D printing
Several firms in the surrounding region’s vibrant industrial manufacturing network have been adopters of AM, with international AM hardware manufacturers such as Renishaw and Arburg establishing their HQ or local divisions here. However, one very strong impulse toward innovation has come from Iaac, the Catalan Institute for Advanced Architecture. Led by Academic Director Areti Markopolou, the institute has conducted advanced work on implementing 3D printing and robotics for large format constructions. In this effort, it was supported by the Fab Lab Barcelona and Director Tomas Diez, who established one of the very first and largest Fab Labs in Europe.
This impulse toward making and creativity also favored the birth of some very innovative companies active in food 3D printing. One is Natural Machines – inventors of the Foodini printer and leading a pack of innovators in the field of food 3D printing, also inspired by Barcelona’s global leadership in molecular gastronomy. Although food 3D printing may still be away from the reach of consumers, companies like Robots in Gastronomy (RiG) began to propose it as a professional tool for chefs.
On the more practical side, companies such as BCN3D Technologies and Red Resins have been among the most successful in developing a new generation of affordable, professional-level products. The former by developing a very efficient and precise desktop filament extrusion 3D printing system; the latter by supplying quality third party resins as the market for desktop stereolithography was beginning to expand. In addition, one of the very first 3D print shop chains ever, En Tres D, opened a store here in Barcelona and played a key role in bringing these technologies to new demographics.
Innovació en sector industrial i mèdic/
Industrial and medical innovation
The Barcelona territory can boast leadership even more traditional and consolidated segments of additive manufacturing, GPA INNOVA has won international recognition for developing an additive manufacturing-specific, automated post-processing system. Companies like Ineo have been using additive manufacturing technologies (photopolymerization, powder bed fusion) for prototyping since 2000 and now they are reaping the benefits of their early intuitions. Since then, the company has grown and currently employs 20 people, developing projects in a 2,000 m² facility.
Nexeo Plastics 3D also emerged as a specialized group within Nexeo Plastics focusing on premium 3D printing filaments for fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology. Leveraging experience in the distribution of plastics and chemicals, the company now offers products that range from PLA to composite nylon CFR/GFR and ULTEM materials. Nexeo Plastics 3D has also partnered with DSM to further extend the range of its filament offer.
In the medical modeling and dental segment, AVINENT has emerged as one of the leading companies in adopting high-quality powder bed fusion and multi-color 3D printing technology. AVINENT Digital Health has as many as nine different 3D printing devices available in its 3D Printing Zone. These are based on seven different technologies, used for both small-scale and industrial purposes, and range from the Formiga P110 printer (used for surgical guides for CMF surgeries) to the Form 2 by Formlabs, of which AVINENT has several models in its facilities and distributes in medical centers.