Photo Credits: IAM 3D HUB

In November 2019, IAM 3D HUB was one the finalists of the first Champions Challenge of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs). This Challenge developed by DIHNET, the DIHs’ Network, together with the European Commission aims at identifying good practices of DIHs to foster matchmaking opportunities and help to fine-tune information in the DIH catalogue.

We met with Aintzane Arbide, Manager of this unique DIH in Europe. She accepted to share with us some insights on how they accomplish their mission: to accelerate the adoption of Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing technologies in the European Union.

How did the story of your Digital Hub get started?

The idea started in 2018 when LEITAT, the research and technical organisation I was working for at that time, decided that research & development projects were not enough to foster the adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D Printing technologies as an alternative way to design and manufacture new competitive products and services that strengthen their competitiveness.

We thus decided to create a “one-stop” shop dedicated to these technologies in order to provide European companies with the appropriate assessment of their needs in additive manufacturing and to guide them in the effective adoption of these technologies.

Could you describe your DIH ecosystem and its development policy?

The Hub has been created in 2018 with the support of public and private funds and with a strong involvement of industrials and technological partners. All in all, the DIH budget of 5€millions had been provided by the European Regional Development Fund and by our partners:

  • Industrials: HP, Renishaw, BASF, Arcelor Mittal, ACEO by Wacker, Abrast by Coniex;
  • Research & technical organisation: LEITAT;
  • Fair trade & conference ecosystems: “INDUSTRY: From needs to solutions” trade show and “Fira Barcelona”, as a strategic partner.

In 2019, we set-up the first European high-tech business incubator for 3D printing, the 3D Factory Incubator, in collaboration with Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona. This 3D Factory Incubator had been able to boost more than 30 projects till now.

Our set of services is called “Journey to Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing adoption” and it comprises:

  • The assessment of the needs of the company and the design of its journey towards technology adoption.
  • Experiment and testing capacities: identify the proper AM solution through a benchmarking of technologies and an analysis of manufacturing capacities and cost estimation.
  • End to end solutions, with special focus in helping companies with parts design or redesign for additive manufacturing and the floor planning layout.
    Business mentoring and access to finance support.
  • Education & training: customized AM/3DP training and standardized set of courses.

In 2020, we will open new infrastructures, 17000 m² dedicated to boost the adoption of 3D technologies as well as to push 4.0 technologies. The Dfactory BCN will gather pilot lines, labs with latest technology equipment and incubation spaces in the same place.

How many companies have been accompanied by the DIH on the base of the DIH services?

The IAM 3D Hub is gathering a great set of dedicated software, equipment and laboratories that is unique in Europe. Thanks to this, the DIH has accompanied more than a hundred companies. More than 60 of them had entered into our “Journey to Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing adoption”. Furthermore, 30 start-ups have benefited from the support of the 3D FACTORY incubator. The opening of the new infrastructure in summer 2020 should increase our capacity to answer to companies needs for technical, business and skill development support.

What is your vision of DIHs development in Europe?

We are registered on the JRC catalogue of DIH in Europe and LEITAT is involved in several European R&D projects. But what we are focusing on is developing our cooperation with sectorial DIHs that would need our expertise which is quite unique in Europe. A little bit more than half of the companies we’ve been helping till now are coming from Spain and we would be happy of course to develop European collaboration. Our industrials partners are coming from all over Europe so, for us, it’s so obvious that we are working at the European level that we don’t really think about it as a challenge. We have so much to do already, our aim is to maintain our level of excellence, we are not thinking in term of geographical coverage but in term of services offer.

Interview by Lucie Milcent, DIHNET

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