Additive manufacturing (AM) offers nearly unlimited potential for improving manufacturing in a variety of fields. It improves the pace of prototyping, allows for the production of complex objects, and can help save material waste. None of that matters if people aren’t aware of what the technology can do for their company.
With that particular problem in mind, EOS, along with UnternehmerTUM, and the Strascheg Center for Entrepreneurship, has founded the 3D Printing Cluster in Munich, Germany. The Cluster is meant to bring together AM manufacturers, investors, educators, and new businesses to encourage the growth of AM in the country.
“Scientists at the Technical University Munich have been conducting research into 3D printing techniques and innovative applications, which have already led to the formation of outstanding company start-ups,” said Dr. Helmut Schönberger, CEO of UnternehmerTUM. “UnternehmerTUM hopes that the activities of this Cluster will help to stimulate even more growth-oriented start-ups in the field of 3D printing.”
The Cluster is organized on three levels to help grow AM, including:
- Start-up support
- Training and continuing education
- Communication and networking
Startups that have a need for AM solutions are an important source of future customers for every 3D printer manufacturer, and the Cluster will help EOS to connect with these new businesses early in their development. Companies such as Shapeways show how a solid relationship with AM experts can help to grow a new business.
The Cluster will offer opportunities for continuing education about AM through training courses and seminars, giving trainees, students and skilled workers the opportunity to learn the tools required for practical AM. Starting in 2015, this will include a TechShop, a prototype workshop, which will give participants a chance to work on their own projects.
Regular Cluster meetings will give members of the group a chance to build networks and to communicate with their peers about their progress in leveraging AM for their business. This will include open marketplaces in which know-how such as material databases can be exchanged, resources and production capacities shared and new standards discussed.
The new Cluster sounds remarkably similar to President Obama’s Innovation Institutes, the first of which is up and running in Youngstown, OH. This move also follows a trend of other countries investing into AM to ensure manufacturing competitiveness for the future.
Below you’ll find a video clip from EOS which demonstrates their basic AM process.