3D printing technology is making huge strides. It represents one of the fundamental aspects of Industry 4.0, the new paradigm of tomorrow’s factories based on digitalisation. At present, the global 3D printing business volume comes to some 4,200 million dollars and is forecasted to reach 12,800 million dollars by 2020. The Global 3D Printing Hub in Catalonia arrives to act as a point of reference in this new technological trend.
What is the Global 3D Printing Hub?
It is a major platform aimed at becoming a worldwide benchmark in 3D printing technology from an industrial perspective. It is born as a result of a public-private initiative and will be located on the Campus Diagonal Besòs, in Barcelona, covering an area over 10,000 m2.
- Perform innovation and R&D activity to develop 3D printing in Catalonia, acting as an international hub for suppliers of this technology and companies from all over the world interested in starting projects in the field of 3D printing.
- Become a public laboratory to give Catalan companies access into this technology, accelerating the digital transformation of the industry towards a digitalisation based model.
What roles will it have?
- This hub will offer Catalan companies and others from around the world who have not yet incorporated 3D printing into their business the most advanced technology to create new kinds of products and new ways of producing them more competitively.
- This laboratory will allow companies to test, perform trials, create prototypes, do short-series production and get training on how to adopt 3D printing into their business model from a technology perspective, while also being introduced to funding possibilities.
- It will also be a centre for certifying new materials being used in the 3D printing field.
- Furthermore, the Global 3D Printing Hub will incorporate a company accelerator to promote the creation of startups connected to this technology and a corporate entrepreneurship programme.
- The centre will also have a permanent showroom of products and solutions to promote pertinent success stories and the latest developments of this technology, which will be given visibility in the Fira de Barcelona facilities and through the international congress IN(3D)USTRY that this year holds its second event in Barcelona.
3D printing applications in industry
- Mainstreaming: this is a technology that can be applied in many industrial sectors, whether in terms of production (currently still limited by production costs and the availability of materials) or in the manufacture of prototypes and tools.
- Flexibility: both in terms of size of the series and as regards the materials used, and even in the ability to adjust manufacturing orders to cope with design changes.
- Greater added value: this technology can produce complex three-dimensional geometries that cannot be manufactured using other technologies, as well as reducing the number of parts of a whole. It also enables manufacturing of lightweight structures or the use of special materials. Therefore, it is very important for an industry aiming to manufacture parts with a greater added value.
- Kilometre zero manufacturing: the possibility of manufacturing short series of highly user adapted products means production locations can be very close to the final market.
- Speed: it means the design, product development and manufacturing process can be streamlined. This makes it extremely interesting for industries that want to continually innovate their products.
- Customisation: it means it can satisfy global trends in the need for greater customisation of products.
- New business models: it will generate new business models, with a significant impact on the entire value chain.