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TNO and TU/e co-found European top center for 3D-printing

30 May 2016

TNO and Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) will be collaborating on ‘additive manufacturing’. Additive manufacturing concerns methods whereby products are produced layer by layer, such as 3D-printing. TNO and the High Tech Systems Center of TU/e are starting a knowledge center that is intended to be a leading center for research and development at European level. In contrast to other knowledge centers for additive manufacturing, this new center focuses predominantly on the production equipment for smart, personalized and multi-functional products. Part of the plan is a new TU/e chair and research group.
Machine designed for 3D printing of plastic and ceramic products, high-resolution and large volume.

TNO and TU/e signed an agreement this month for the foundation of the new knowledge center that will be located on the TU/e campus and will build on the existing expertise of the university and TNO in this field.

One of the goals of the new knowledge center is to stimulate the competitiveness and growth of Dutch industry. The center will undertake fundamental and applied research to arrive at innovations that ultimately make it to the marketplace via the affiliated companies or spin-offs that are created. The center will also train experts and scientists that the emerging 3D-printing industry needs.

New chair and research group

Part of the plan is to establish a new chair and research group ‘Systems Mechatronics for Advanced Manufacturing’. The recruiting process for the position of professor has already begun. It is expected that within four years 25 PhD students will be undertaking research and that more than 50 full-time professionals will be involved in the center. Soon 7 PhD students will begin work and at TNO around 30 people are already working in this field. The center wants to collaborate intensively on R&D with industry, the aim being to have tens of industrial partners participating in research programs in the coming years.

Additive manufacturing has real potential for all kinds of products of complex shapes and made from one piece. Moreover, the products can easily be adjusted to the wishes of individual customers and intelligence can be built in. The technology for more complex products, made from different materials for example, is still in its infancy, however.

The researchers of the new center are focusing on developing high-tech equipment for the production of smart products that are typically manufactured from several materials. TNO and TU/e have years of experience in additive manufacturing at their disposal and will make the step within the research programs to the next generation of integrated production systems. The findings will be tested in practice in the established Smart Industry Fieldlab MultiM3D.

The high-tech equipment will largely target making integrated and smart electronics, customized medical products, printed food, and pharmaceutical and high-tech products. Examples are complete implants, prostheses, dental bridgework, smart electronics like E-pill, smart connectors and integrated LEDs or spare parts for high-tech equipment that can be printed on the spot when needed.

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