May 31, 2016 | By Kira

Two of the most prominent and respected technological innovators in the Netherlands have joined forces to launch a 3D printing knowledge center that is intended to become a European leader for 3D printing innovation and market growth.

Independent research organization TNO (The Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) and the High Tech Systems Center of TU/e (Eindhoven University of Technology) signed the agreement this month, promising to combine their years of expertise in additive manufacturing processes, materials, and applications.

The 3D printing center will be located on the TU/e campus, and will focus on the production of smart, personalized and multi-functional products that would traditionally require extensive production times and multiple materials. These include 3D printed smart electronics (connectors and integrated LEDs), custom 3D printed medical devices (prosthesis and dental implants), 3D printed food, pharmaceutical products (3D printed e-pills), and more.

Rather than focusing on abstract research concepts, TNO and TU/e’s goal in producing such high-tech, functional goods is to develop marketable products that will “stimulate competitiveness and growth of Dutch industry.” The Center thus plans to “collaborate intensively” with industry, working with affiliated companies, industrial partnerships, and even commercial spin-offs to bring their 3D printed innovations to market.

A key part of the Center’s initiation plan is to establish a new chair and research group called the “Systems Mechatronics for Advanced Manufacturing.” The institutions have already begun a recruiting process to hire a new professor.

In addition, they estimate that within four years, 25 PhD students will undertake research, and more than 50 full-time professionals will be hired to work at the center. Around 30 TNO employees are already working in the field, and 7 PhD students have been elected to begin both fundamental and applied research in the very near future.

Both institutions are known for their extensive research and expertise in advanced manufacturing technology. Recently, TNO revealed Hyproline, a mass-production system for metal 3D printed parts. The organization has also been developing personalized 3D printed drugs, 3D printed dental crowns, and advanced material design for complex 3D printed structures. TNO’s focus areas range from defense and security to smart cities and predictive health.

For its part, TU/e has designed a giant concrete 3D printer, wearable 3D printed shoes, and has even collaborated with Dutch bio-startup NNRGY to develop 3D printed bio-concrete from a type of grass.

The High Tech Systems Center of TU/e, where the 3D printing center will be located, focuses on integrating mechanically engineering, electrical engineering, physics and computer sciences. Specifically, it aims to become the “primary driver and network center of the Dutch mechatronics ecosystem,” and as such is actively involved with OEMs, SMEs and related knowledge institutes, making it an ideal base for the 3D printing center.

The Netherlands is already a leading force in the area of 3D printing innovation—with recent studies revealing that Dutch consumers are ready and willing to adopt new technologies and 3D printing specifically. By launching this new product-driven 3D printing center, TNO and TU/e will not only drive the Dutch 3D printing market, but potentially serve as a model for other European countries, particularly as the EU strives to implement a common 3D printing strategy and increase its industrial competitiveness worldwide.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Technology

 

 

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