Feb 12, 2016 | By Benedict

“This could be Rotterdam or anywhere,” lamented British pop group The Beautiful South on their 1996 smash hit Rotterdam (or Anywhere). Twenty years on, singer Jacqui Abbott could be forced to eat her disparaging words, with the Dutch port city set to acquire a landmark metal 3D printing “Fieldlab”.

Rotterdam, the second most populous city in the Netherlands, is perhaps best known for its large cargo port, the largest in Europe and 10th largest in the world. With a large number of ships frequenting the port on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that the Port of Rotterdam Authority is constantly seeking to implement beneficial innovations, the latest being a huge 3D printing Fieldlab at which port-related companies will be able to work together on additive manufacturing projects with specific applications in the maritime industry.

The new Fieldlab is to be constructed at the appropriately named Innovation Dock at RDM Rotterdam, the former shipyard of the Rotterdam Drydock Company. The project has been orchestrated and financed by InnovationQuarter and RDM Makerspace in collaboration with the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The trio last year collaborated on a 3D printing pilot project which involved 3D printing spare parts for the maritime industry.

Rotterdam’s new 3D printing Fieldlab, given its “Fieldlab” status by Smart Industry, will receive a multi-million euro investment, with each advanced metal 3D printer costing approximately $1m. The size of the completed Fieldlab has not yet been determined, and will depend on company participation. Fifteen companies have already signed a declaration of intent for participation in the project. The Port Authority also works together with partners such as TU Delft, the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Deltalinqs, EY, Cambridge Innovation Centre, Rotterdam Partners, Philips Innovation Award and the Municipality of Rotterdam, on various projects such as iTanks, Innovation Dock, PortXL and Smartport.

“3D printing is promising, but complex,” explained Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, at the 3D Conference which took place yesterday, February 11. “Developments are coming up in rapid succession. There are not many companies who have the adequate expertise and resources to start implementing metal 3D printing on their own. This is why we are taking the initiative to create a Fieldlab for companies and knowledge institutes to join.

“The first 3D printer will be commissioned in the second half of this year. The Fieldlab is a logical follow-up to the pilot project initiated last year to manufacture spare 3D printed ship parts. Rotterdam wants to be the world’s smartest port and a leader in the application of this kind of innovation. That is good for the business community and for employment.”

The 3D printing Fieldlab will allow ships to undergo quick repairs. Companies will be able to order a specific component to be 3D printed before arriving at the port, where it can be picked up and taken on board. This convenience will contribute to Castelein’s vision of Rotterdam as the “world’s smartest port”.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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