The Catalan Government has announced this week the creation in Barcelona of a global 3D printing hub in Catalonia. It is an industrial infrastructure which aims to become a worldwide point of reference in the field of 3D printing from an industrial standpoint. The project is led by Catalonia Trade & Investment and has the support of both companies and technological and research centres such as HP, RENISHAW, Eurecat-Leitat and Fira de Barcelona.
Named the Global 3D Printing Hub, the centre will be located on the Campus Diagonal Besòs and will cover an area over 10.000m2. It is being set up with a double objective. On one hand, to perform innovation and R&D activity to develop 3D printing within Catalonia, becoming an international meeting point for suppliers of this technology and companies from all over the world interested in initiating projects in the 3D printing field; creating more competitive products, new production models and new business models.
Secondly, it will act as a public laboratory to promote business access to this technology via research, trails, tests and short series to discover and to benefit as much as possible from 3D printing; driving and accelerating the digital transformation of the industry towards a model more based on digitalisation and industry 4.0.
In this regard, the President of the Catalan Government, Carles Puigdemont, has declared that "Catalonia has the opportunity to lead the best ecosystem of supply and demand for business and talent in 3D on a European level, just to start with” while at the same time, “reaffirm its national commitment to industry 4.0”. “We can and want to lead this change”, he stated. Furthermore, the president is convinced of the potential which the creation of this hub will represent as regards investment attraction and which turns it into “another element placing Catalonia at the forefront of the fourth industrial revolution”.
The Minister for Business and Knowledge, Jordi Baiget, held a similar view, stating “we want to be protagonists and not spectators of the new industrial revolution". For the Minister, 3D printing "is one of today’s most disruptive technologies and is essential in the context of industry 4.0. It is real, it is here and will continue to grow in coming years. It is an increasingly faster technology, that offers solutions that are impacting on more and more sectors, with real applications in health, in industry, in design, in parts manufacturing, which affect the whole scope of industry”, he concluded.
The Global 3D Printing Hub will also be a centre for certification of new materials that will be used in the context of 3D printing, and will incorporate an accelerator of companies to encourage the creation of start-ups linked to this technology, as well as a corporate entrepreneurial programme. The centre will also have a permanent showroom of productions and solutions to promote success stories as well as the latest developments in this technology. These will be on show in the installations of the Fira de Barcelona and through the international congress IN(3D)USTRY, the second edition of which will be celebrated in Barcelona this year.
Catalonia has a solid, diversified industrial base, and uses a large variety of materials in its manufacturing processes that, therefore, will become a real driver for the demand of 3D printing. This condition, together with the ICT sector, which in recent years has become increasingly relevant, especially thanks to Catalonia’s World Mobile Capital Congress status or the Smart City Expo held here, as well as the presence of 3D printing sector companies and groups, are all assets that favour the leadership position of Catalonia in this sector. Furthermore, Catalonia also has an ecosystem of first-class start-ups, highly qualified in research and development in new technologies, as well as past experience in initiatives such as the Cluster of Advanced Materials and experimental spaces in the field of digital manufacturing.