TU/e and TNO innovation center for 3D-printing of multi-materials

TU Eindhoven’s High Tech Systems Center and TNO’s Additive Manufacturing department in Eindhoven are joining forces in the field of 3D-print equipment in the combined AMSYSTEMS Center. TNO and TU/e will be integrating innovation programs in this area, sharing R&D facilities and training experts together. The focus will lie on developing production equipment for the 3D-printing of smart products from composite materials, such as electronics, high-tech components and highly personalized items like teeth, shoe soles, printed food and pharmaceutical products.

The technological focus is geared to the development of high-tech equipment for the 3D-production of smart products manufactured from different materials. TNO and TU/e have many years of experience in Additive Manufacturing (3D-printing) and will be working within the research programs on the next generation of integrated production systems. The aim is to have more than 50 FTEs and at least 25 PhD students working within this innovation center within four years.

Industrial partners

The research center will work very closely with industry; the plan is to have dozens of industrial partners participating in research programs in the coming years. The findings will be tested in the Smart Industry MultiM3D Fieldlab that has been designed to this end and is being opened today. The MultiM3D Fieldlab is a test plant for the additive manufacturing industry, which creates an optimal ongoing link with the needs of industry.

“The center will train the experts and scientists that are needed in the emerging 3D-print industry, and will include the instigation of a new professorship and the establishment of the ‘Systems Mechatronics for Advanced Manufacturing’ group at TU Eindhoven,” explains Katja Pahnke (managing director of the TU/e High Tech Systems Center). She and Erwin Meinders (manager of Additive Manufacturing at TNO) are the initiators of the AMSYSTEMS Center and since June made up the Board of Directors of the AMSYSTEMS Center. “Through the strategic collaboration with the HTSC, we are bringing the high-tech mechatronics knowledge of TU/e and the knowledge TNO has in the field of industrial additive manufacturing into a joint and unique knowledge proposition for industry,” Erwin says.

Training scientists and experts

The start of the research center was punctuated by an opening program with keynotes from Daan Kersten (Additive Industries) and René Gurka (BigRep). Daan Kersten presented the development of his industrial 3D metal printer, MetalFab1, a machine with a fully automated 3D manufacturing process for printing metal parts. René Gurka presented his company, BigRep, and has a similar vision regarding the printing of functional polymer components with fully automated production systems. Inspired by the existing PrintValley technology, BigRep opted to seek collaboration with the AMSYSTEMS Center for this development. The keynotes were followed by a lab tour of the unique R&D facilities, including the further development of the PrintValley machine that is the foundation for series 3D-printing.

The partnership in the AMSYSTEMS Center was given the formal nod of approval by Frank Baaijens, rector magnificus of TU Eindhoven, and Arnold Stokking, Managing Director Industry of TNO.


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

TNO and 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.

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.

Fundamental and applied research
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
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.

All kinds of products
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.

Years of experience
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