An entrepreneur in the music sector wanted to develop a travel electronic sax that he could play without disturbing anyone from the train or plane.
He found the solution in 3D printing: a sax completely 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 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 very precisely, into tangible objects. You save 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 simpler 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 developing new solutions. This is what you will find here,” explains David Adrover, Secretary General 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 entire process. To do this, it brought together the most representative companies of this sector throughout the value chain: technology suppliers (3D printing machines); materials developers; post-processing partners or software developers. Now, this hub is based at DFactory, the industry 4.0 node of the Barcelona Free Trade Zone Consortium.
Among these partners are HP, LEITAT (operator and manager of IAM3DHUB), Rensihaw, BASF Forward AM, Abrast - Coniex, AM Solutions, GPA Innova, AMT, Massivit3D or Materialize.
In turn, it integrates different ecosystem, communication and marketing partners such as 3Dnatives, Interempresas, 3DPrinting
“For companies that come here, it is a space to test before invest and, after having acquired 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 acquires maturity in additive production,” says Adrover. Any type of company can use IAM3DHUB, small, medium or large, and it works at European level. “In a context of industry 4.0 expansion, it is important to help companies become 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, customize them... this represents a revolutionary paradigm shift in production," explains Magí Galindo, director scientist and technician of IAM3DHUB.
An example of this change in the production model has already been experienced, for example, by the dentistry sector: “dental aligners, which capture the position of your teeth at a certain time in your life and calculate the optimal position, are printed on 3D; all the evolution of your dental positions are plastic pieces created this way. This is much more efficient than traditional braces, and that is why it has dynamited that market,” explains Galindo.
Hearing aids are also 3D printed in a company in country “x”, then the microphone and speaker electronics are added and sent to any other country in the world. “At the Phonak center in the United States, which manufactures complete hearing solutions for hearing loss, they receive 10,000 requests a day for personalized hearing aids,” he adds.
It is a fact that aeronautics and 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 cell phone cases, all types of jewelry, nanosatellites, personalized implants, motorcycles or entire bicycles. “This technology is nothing like other production processes, because it is the only one that makes objects grow from nothing, like nature. In 30 years, everything that is complex, has special functions (changing shape depending on light or sound, for example) and added value, will probably be 3D printed,” he says.
In terms of preserving the environment, a workhorse for numerous highly polluting production processes, additive production also has an advantage: only the material that is needed is used because, instead of removing material from a whole and generating waste, It is added from “nothing”, from a design on a computer screen. “And we are not prisoners of a place to produce either. If I can make a mobile phone case anywhere without it being imprisoned by an injection mold, 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 Barcelona Free Trade Zone Consortium. In this large industrial cluster, key companies from sectors such as 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI), cloud, machine learning and robotics share synergies to promote 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,” Galindo concludes.
“The idea is that here not only companies that did not know each other get to know each other, but that they work on joint projects,” explains Pere Navarro, State delegate to the Consorci, who also highlights the sustainability of the complex. The building has the Leed Gold seal, an indicator of sustainability, not only from an energy point of view, but also as a friendly enclave for those who work in it, with natural light, open spaces to work in and terraces.