Mar 16, 2017 | By Tess

JEC Group, Europe’s largest composites industry organization, has announced the recipients of its JEC Innovation Awards at JEC World 2017 in Paris. In total, 13 awards were given out to the companies with the most innovative and influential composite-related breakthroughs. In the category of 3D printing, +LAB, the additive manufacturing lab at Politecnico di Milano University in Italy, won for its “Smart manufacturing of continuous-fiber composites” project.

The winning 3D printing project, called Atropos, consists of an innovative robotic arm capable of continuously 3D printing composite materials. The technology was inspired by silkworms, as the robotic arm moves fluidly, continuously extruding a fiber of thermosetting composite material, which cures as it is extruded. The six-axis machine was realized by +LAB in collaboration with KUKA Robotics, and Owens Coming.

3D printing composite materials has been at the center of many recent 3D printing innovations, and for good reason. The benefits of being able print composite materials are significant, as they could offer the potential to make stronger, but more lightweight parts, properties which are desired in most manufacturing industries.

The JEC Innovation Awards were awarded based on a number of different factors, including market potential, financial and environmental impact, technical interest, and originality. According to JEC Group, this year’s submissions were ripe with innovation, and showcased quality and diversity.

In the end though, the 13 top submissions were selected as winners. Besides the category of 3D printing, Japan’s IHI Corporation won in the category of Aeronautics; Germany's Forward Engineering GmbH won Automotive, Structural; and South Korean LG Hausys won in the category of Automotive, Exterior. Spanish company ACCIONA Construcción SA won in the field of construction for its composite panels which could replace steel and concrete for high-speed railway construction. Other categories included process, manufacturing, sustainability, marine, software, sports, raw material, and better living.

According to JEC Group, the 13 categories cover most areas of the composite value chain, and the winners are not only the top of those categories but are showing future potential for the field of composites.

“Manufacturing processes for large series are growing in importance this year,” commented Frédérique Mute, President and CEO of JEC Group. “This movement is expected to trigger a more massive use of composites. Therefore, we could see a change of scale in our industry, particularly in certain mass production sectors such as the automotive sector, for example, where the supply chain is reconfiguring through mergers and acquisitions, the upstream integration of automotive suppliers and the downstream integration of raw materials producers.”

The JEC Innovation Awards ceremony took place last night at JEC World, an international composites event located at Paris Nord Villepinte. JEC World wraps up today, March 16.



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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