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AM Masterclass starting point for 3D printing ecosystem in plastics industry

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

Signify has now printed and delivered more than one million lamps to end customers at its Hungarian 3D printing plant. There is no better proof that additive manufacturing is ripe as a manufacturing technology. "3D printing is becoming mainstream. Manufacturing companies need to become aware of this. Additive Manufacturing is no longer a technology only for at specific 3D printing fairs. That is why we are organizing the AM Masterclass during the Kunststoffenbeurs," says Ruben Fokkema, Business Developer for Brainport Eindhoven.

During Kunststoffenbeurs 2022, Brainport Development and Mikrocentrum will organize an AM Masterclass. This is part of an existing series, each time linked to a specific market. This masterclass is less about the technology and more about the knowledge of the business case. "This time we are looking mainly at the opportunities in the plastics industry and how 3D printing can help address the opportunities in this sector," Ruben Fokkema outlines the purpose of the AM Masterclass. The target group is the management of plastics processing companies who want and dare to take the step towards innovation.

Signify prints with thousands of 3D printers

Signify has taken this step. Stijn Meijers, New Business Development Manager at the lighting group, is one of the speakers during the masterclass at the Kunststoffenbeurs 2022. At Signify, 3D printing is now a common production technology. Tons of (partly recycled) material are processed annually at the six printing factories worldwide. "In those factories there are printer farms with hundreds of 3D printers. In Hungary we recently printed the millionth product," Stijn Meijers outlines the scale that Additive Manufacturing has now reached. Besides customization of the products, solving supply chain problems by 3D printing locally and the sustainability aspect by printing with partially recycled plastic that is recyclable again, 3D printing gives Signify above all the opportunity to respond faster to fashion-sensitive trends and technological developments in the lighting industry.

“The lighting world is fashion-sensitive and subject to rapid technological developments; investments in molds therefore often do not pay off.” 

 Stijn Meijers, New Business Development Manager at the lighting group


One in five already print finished products

Exactly these kinds of considerations, prompted by the business advantages of 3D printing, are addressed in the AM Masterclass during the plastics fair. This should inspire the participants. Ruben Fokkema refers to an analysis showing that 5% of manufacturing companies use 3D printing for products that are sold. "That is already substantial, one out of every twenty companies. 3D printing is not yet marketable for all applications, but it can provide a solution for many current problems." The masterclass makes participants aware of this. Because, says the Business Development Manager, developments are now moving fast. Companies that are not yet considering the technology should realize that their competitor can start using it tomorrow. "And then in a few years you may be at a disadvantage." That's why Brainport Eindhoven is bringing appealing names like Signify, the materials company Covestro but also Industrio, a Dutch 3D printer manufacturer and AM Flow that automates order flow, to the masterclass. Experts from these companies will share knowledge and insights.

Starting up ecosystems

The AM Masterclass is not only intended to inspire managers of manufacturing companies in the plastics industry. It should be the starting point for intensive cooperation between parties in the plastics chain. "Our goal is not only to unlock the knowledge of the major parties but also to set up meaningful collaborations," says Ruben Fokkema. These collaborations in the AM ecosystem are, for example, about making an application 3D printable; or building a supply chain for 3D printed parts. In Brainport Eindhoven, promising collaborations are emerging.

"The idea is that a consortium will emerge from the master class, in which parties work together to get the technology ready for the market."

Ruben Fokkema, Business Developer voor Brainport Eindhoven

From the additive manufacturing learning community in Brainport Eindhoven, a number of masterclasses have been organized before on the themes of mobility and medical technology. From this, smaller groups have indeed already emerged that are now working together further on the development of Additive Manufacturing applications.

The AM Masterclass at the Kunststoffenbeurs will take place on 15 September from 13.30h onwards. Besides the story by Stijn Meijers on Signify's 3D printing business and the materials it offers to third parties, there will be presentations by Hugo da Silva, VP Covestro on how AM helps solve disruptions in supply chains, Marco Cavallaro of Industrio on how to scale up personalized manufacturing and Dennis Lieffering of AM Flow on end-to-end automation as flywheel for growth of the AM industry. 


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