In this space any company can experiment with 3D technology

A music entrepreneur wanted to develop a travel electronic saxophone that he could play without disturbing anyone from the train or plane.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
05 September 2023 Tuesday 10:24
2 Reads
In this space any company can experiment with 3D technology

A music entrepreneur wanted to develop a travel electronic saxophone that he could play without disturbing anyone from the train or plane.

He found the solution in 3D printing: a saxophone entirely made with this technology, except for the mouthpiece, which is not printed. An application allows you to listen to it through headphones so that the neighbor in the seat does not have any complaints.

First question: why did the entrepreneur turn to this technology and not another? The answer is simple: with 3D printing, complex designs can be translated, in a matter of a few hours and with great precision, into tangible objects. It saves money and time. Question 2: How do you get, without knowledge in additive production, to design the instrument and sell it in more than 40 countries? The solution is also easier than it seems: with the help of IAM3DHUB.

“Imagine that entrepreneur or any industrial company that has an idea and, being aware of the benefits of 3D printing, turns to a place where they will be advised about the options they have, they will allow them to experiment, try different technologies printing and develop new solutions. This is what you will find here”, explains David Adrover, General Secretary of IAM3DHUB.

IAM3DHUB was born seven years ago to provide the industry with a center that offered access to different manufacturing solutions with support throughout the process. To do this, it brought together the most representative companies in this sector throughout the value chain: technology providers (3D printing machines); material developers; partners in the field of post-processing or software developers. Now, this hub is based in DFactory, the industry 4.0 node of the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona.

Among these partners are HP, LEITAT (operator and manager of IAM3DHUB), Rensihaw, BASF Forward AM, Abrast - Coniex, AM Solutions, GPA Innova, AMT, Massivit3D or Materialise.

In turn, it integrates different ecosystem, communication and marketing partners such as 3Dnatives, Interempresas, 3DPrinting

“For the companies that come here, it is a test before invest space (test before investing) and, after having gained experience and knowledge in the use of technologies, they can adopt and implement them in their company. Here we help them get started until the company reaches maturity in additive production”, says Adrover. IAM3DHUB can be used by any type of company, small, medium or large, and it works at a European level. "In a context of expansion of industry 4.0, it is important to help companies to be more competitive."

In recent years, the additive manufacturing market has experienced growth and represents a great opportunity for companies because “3D printing has a great impact. On the one hand, the capital invested in production is the lowest possible, and on the other, with that same capital, it can create other products, personalize them... this represents a revolutionary paradigm shift in production", explains Magí Galindo, director IAM3DHUB scientist and technician.

An example of this change in the production model has already been experienced, for example, by the dental sector: "dental aligners, which capture the position of your teeth at a given moment in your life and calculate the optimal position, are printed on 3D; all the evolution of your dental positions are plastic pieces created in this way. This is much more efficient than traditional brackets, and for this reason it has blown up that market”, Galindo explains.

Hearing aids are also 3D printed by a company in country “x”, then microphone and speaker electronics are added and shipped to any other country in the world. “At the Phonak facility in the United States, which manufactures complete hearing solutions for hearing loss, they receive 10,000 requests per day for custom hearing aids,” he adds.

It is a fact that aeronautics or medicine have been taking advantage of the opportunities of additive manufacturing for years and more and more sectors are finding great benefits in it. Thus, today we already have mobile phone cases, all kinds of jewelry, nanosatellites, personalized implants, motorcycles or entire bicycles. “This technology is nothing like the rest of production processes, because it is the only one that makes objects grow out of nothing, like nature. In 30 years, everything that is complex, has special functions (change shape depending on light or sound, for example) and added value will probably be printed in 3D”, he says.

Facing the preservation of the environment, a workhorse for numerous highly polluting production processes, additive production also has an advantage: only the material that is needed is spent because, instead of removing material from a whole and generating waste, it is added out of “nothing”, from a design on a computer screen. “And neither are we prisoners of a place to produce. If I can manufacture a mobile phone case anywhere without it being the prisoner of an injection mould, the environmental logistics cost is reduced to zero”.

As we said, the European headquarters of IAM3DHUB is located in DFactory, the great commitment to industry 4.0 of the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona. In this large industrial cluster, key companies from sectors such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, machine learning or robotics share synergies to drive manufacturing innovation.

"Thanks to this location, we are collaborating with companies in the robotics or AI sector to achieve optimized products, such as robotic arms made up of 3D printed parts," concludes Galindo.

"The idea is that here not only companies that did not know each other get to know each other, but also work on joint projects," explains Pere Navarro, State delegate to the Consorci, who also values ​​the sustainability of the complex. The building has the Leed Gold seal, an indicator of sustainability, not only from the energy point of view, but also as a friendly enclave for those who work in it, with natural light, open spaces to work and terraces.