3D Metal Printing in the Netherlands: Unlocking the Full Potential of a Key Technology

The benefits and opportunities of 3D metal printing

3D metal printing is creating worldwide opportunities for new economic activities. The key technology offers a wide range of techniques that are increasingly being used and driving innovation in many sectors. One of the benefits of 3D metal printing is the diversity of design options, allowing for the printing of unique shapes that could never be produced using conventional metal processing techniques. This leads to new and lighter designs in industries such as aviation, reducing fuel consumption. Another example of the benefits offered by 3D metal printing is the ability to use it to shorten the supply chain, enabling companies to deliver products to their customers faster.

Why the Netherlands is lagging behind other countries

However, the Netherlands still has some way to go in this area. The possibilities offered by 3D metal printing are not always well known in practice. Even companies that have already invested in this area often struggle with practical questions. There is currently a lack of expertise and know-how in the Netherlands. Countries such as Germany, Belgium, and France are ahead of the Netherlands in the use of 3D metal printing.

Setting up a knowledge infrastructure to close the gap

The SPRONG group Industrial Additive Manufacturing Metal (IAMM) has therefore been set up to help advance the technology and its implementation. The Plastic Technology lecture at Windesheim University of Applied Sciences is leading the SPRONG group IAMM together with Saxion and Fontys universities. Thanks to SIA funding and co-funding of 50% from industry and applied sciences, the three parties can work on setting up a knowledge infrastructure for the whole of the Netherlands over the next four years, with a possible extension of another four years.

Objectives for 3D metal printing for the Netherlands

Gaining the very latest knowledge, expertise, and know-how is essential, as 3D metal printing techniques are constantly evolving. The SPRONG group IAMM aims to bridge this gap by setting up a knowledge infrastructure for the Netherlands. In this way, the Netherlands can catch up with other countries and unlock the full potential of this key technology. Specifically, this means:

  • Broaden the current research profile to new application areas for 3D metal printing
  • Strengthen the competences of existing and new employees by using the complementary knowledge and facilities of the colleges and organisations involved
  • Broaden the network for demand articulation and knowledge sharing with the field
  • Develop up-to-date education at undergraduate and graduate level on the latest techniques and applications
  • Developing a quality system focused on professional work
  • Setting up a national infrastructure for research and education for companies, with which we hope to unlock this key technology for the Netherlands

By collaborating intensively, a decisive research group has emerged with a large geographical reach in the Netherlands, various facilities and specialisations. Within the group, there is cooperation with regional field labs and several Centres of Expertise, namely: HTSM Fontys, Green PAC and TechForFuture. This network is further strengthened by Windesheim’s collaboration with Flam3D.