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Taking AM From Niche to Mass Adoption through Effective Continental Trade Shows

IN(3D)USTRY set out to find additive manufacturing solutions to real manufacturing challenges. After two successful editions, the Barcelona congress is closer to reaching its goals

From the UK, through Germany, to Barcelona. If the biggest limit to a real, widespread adoption of additive manufacturing is industry awareness, trade shows are one of the most effective ways to address it. AM-centric trade shows also need to be able to reach out to companies looking to AM as a solution to real manufacturing challenges, not just a way for AM system and materials manufacturers to confront each other.

While Birmingham, home to the original TCT Show, is moving farther and farther away from the continent, fresh and exciting new shows like Frankfurt Messe’ formext (also powered by TCT) and Fira de Barcelona’s IN3DUSTRY have established themselves as reference events for the booming additive manufacturing and 3D printing industry – and, by extension, for the entire advanced industrial manufacturing scenario.

The Industry 4.0 concept, with its advanced automation capabilities, and its streamlined, highly efficient production inevitably passes through the adoption of additive manufacturing for mass customization, digitalization and automation. AM hardware, materials and software are at the heart of this revolution. The second edition of IN(3D)USTRY From Needs to Solutions, which takes place on October 3-5 at Fira de Barcelona’s Gran Via venue, seeks to bring their industrial solutions to potential adopters by securing the participation of senior executives from major companies such as Airbus, Renault and Adidas, who will be among the 40 speakers participating in five themed conference tracks (Aeronautics, Automotive, Retail, Health and Industry). Over 50 exhibitors will be present on the show floor.

As the AM industry gradually shifts from a prototyping and single part production process to a full, digital mass manufacturing process, IN(3D)USTRY addresses the highly horizontal nature of 3D printing by focusing on specific, vertical adoption segments which are readying to implement 3D printing in mass production. These include advanced manufacturing segments such as aerospace as well as intermediate-mass production segments such as automotive and even full mass customization for consumer products.

FLYING HIGH ON INDUSTRIAL AM

Aerospace is the first industrial segment to have worked on the industrialization of additive manufacturing processes, focusing primarily on metal but also on polymers, ceramics and composites. The overall revenue opportunity for AM in aerospace is expected to be worth more than $20 billion globally by 2027 (source: SmarTech Publishing) including civil aviation (both commercial and private aircraft), space infrastructure applications (including space vehicles and satellites) and drone parts manufacturing. Leading aircraft and spacecraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Thales Alenia will be present at IN(3D)USTRY along with representatives from the European Space Agency (ESA) important tier 1 suppliers like Aernnova to share their experience and the progress they have made in the industrialization of AM over the past decade.

The high level of the participants shows how far the show has already come in terms of continental recognition as a necessary platform for sharing solutions and acquiring new information as the companies that are building the infrastructure of the global AM industry realize that they need to collaborate.

One of the first segment to benefit from the aerospace industry’s experience is the automotive sector (and by extension the entire land-based mobility and transportation industries), which is also bringing its own set of experiences to the table While automotive is farther behind in AM production of metal parts, it is already the largest adopter of AM for prototyping and tooling using AM of polymers.

Again the level of participation at IN(3D)USTRY from leading European AM adopters and automotive sector leaders shows how far the show and the industry itself have come over just the past couple of years. Speakers will include Norberto Martín, leader of DKM Models at SEAT’s Prototype Development Centre; Melanie Barriere, head of Design Innovation and Advanced Technologies Department at Renault; Roberta Sampieri, responsible of the Additive Manufacturing department at the FCA Group (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles); and Local Motors, a start-up that manufactures autonomous vehicles in 3D.

Each company is going to bring a very different set of experiences. While Local Motors is going to contribute with its unique experience in 3D printing entire cars within localized micro-factories, giants such as FCA have been researching polymer technologies and materials for the mass production of final parts in batches of several thousand and even tens of thousands of parts. In mass market automotive this is rendered even more challenging by the necessity to keep costs down.

These challenges are also going to be addressed by speakers in the Industrial panel such as Ulli Klenk, the director responsible for advanced manufacturing strategy in Siemens and Stefanie Brickwede from Deutsche Bahn, the leading German railway company. Mr Klenk is working on different aspects of the optimization of the AM process focusing specifically on the Energy sector, while Ms Brickwede is going to bring her experience in producing end-use replacement train parts while contributing to establishing one of the largest networks ever of companies working on implementing AM in mobility.

For these clear synergies as well as the ongoing need to expand the adopters base for AM; IN(3D)USTRY 2017 is taking place within the framework of Barcelona Industry Week, which includes Expoquimia, the trade show for the chemical industry; Eurosurfas (surface treatments); Equiplast, (plastics sector); World Chemical Summit and the IoT Solutions World Congress, the trade event for the industrial Internet.

REACHING OUT TO THE MASSES

The AM industry is also working to expand toward the consumer mass – or mass customization – market. Much like Aerospace and Automotive can learn from each other, in mass customization, it is the medical segment and the consumer products segments that can share experiences and solutions.

Implants, both medical and dental, are the first examples of mass customization, along with hearing aids. Polymers, metals, composites and ceramics based materials – as well a biomaterials – can now be 3D printed to produce customized implants for each person. Representatives from Avinent, a world leading dental implant and prosthetics laboratory, and Sant Joan de Déu Barcelona Hospital, a pioneer in the use of 3D printing, will share their experiences. They will be joined by Tract, a start-up that seeks to reduce the complications arising from tracheal implants. Even IBEC, the Catalunya center for bioprinting will share their latest evolutions in bioprinting of implantable parts.

Medical 3D printing leading into prosthetics, orthotics and mobility support devices are paving the way to the dawn of real wearable technology. This will be a key focus in this edition of IN(3D)USTRY as the Retail panel will take place with presentations by the members of the jury for the Reshape Awards, which recognize the best wearable technology designs created through additive and advanced manufacturing worldwide. Those representatives include Simone Cesano from Adidas and Peter Hanappe from Sony, two companies that have been making headlines in recent months for their projects to bring 3D printing to the masses.

Adidas adopter Carbon technology for mass production of shoes, while Sony just announced the integration of a powerful 3D scanner and 3D modelling software (with 3D printing in mind) in its latest high-end Xperia smartphones. And with this, the circle closes as the appointment to learn more is at the next Mobile World Congress. Where? At Fira de Barcelona, of course.

Davide Sher

Over the last decade Davide has built up extensive experience as both a technology journalist and communications consultant. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he received his undergraduate degree from SUNY Stony Brook. He is a senior analyst for US-based firm SmarTech Publishing focusing on the additive manufacturing industry. He founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. which specialises in media and communications services for the 3DP and AM industry, through which he runs 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, as well as two editorial websites, 3D Printing Media Network and Il Replicatore.

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