Additive Manufacturing, a technology often commended for its capacity to support light weighting, has seen heavy activity during Q3 2018 and it is set to continue on a global scale, especially in Europe.
In Europe, the Additive Manufacturing European Forum (AMEF) 2018 took place in Brussels, and focused on discussions on the key challenges and pillars for AM market implementation. The event was a joint initiative of two H2020 funded projects, AM-Motion and AM-Platform. AM-Motion focuses on rapid market uptake of AM technologies; with the AM-Platform is a broad platform and a large network of more than 600 members from more than 25 countries from across Europe, with a number of projects under various other European calls. All in all, the aim of the project is to contribute to a coherent strategy, understanding, development, dissemination and exploitation of AM here in Europe.
Whilst not focusing directly on Aerospace, the AMEF 2018 programme (found here) featured discussions regarding mass customisation with digital technologies; AM in the steel sector; skills for AM in Europe; implications for Intellectual Property; and ultimately the European Roadmap for Additive Manufacturing Market Implementation.
Some interesting topics discussed during the event that must be considered by industry and SDOs alike, including how to match product lifecycles against forthcoming production technologies, as well as the required volume which attempted to project how AM integrates with traditional Process Manufacturing as volume increases. This is an important consideration for firms looking to integrate AM into their production processes.
During the event, the European Commission presented as part of the aforementioned roadmap, a timeline for next steps for Additive Manufacturing regarding project support for Research, Development and Implementation projects. From Q3 2019 there will be a great deal of strategic planning to prepare the first Work Programmes under Horizon Europe, the ambitious €100 billion research and innovation programme that will succeed Horizon 2020, which will begin on 1 January 2021. The proposal for which was made as part of the EU’s proposal for the next EU long-term budget, the multiannual financial framework (MFF). The projects proposed under Horizon Europe will therefore signal the intent of the European Union to continuing to be a key driving force behind the development of Additive Manufacturing in Europe.
As a result of such projects, and private sector R&D efforts, another presenter illustrated how AM technologies are continuing to develop with their adoption by a number of promising industries including Aerospace, for which it was claimed by one presenter that 50% of components will be printable by 2040.
Correspondingly since our previous article on Additive Manufacturing, there have been several noteworthy pieces of industry news demonstrating progress towards confirming this prediction. Firstly, in partnership with Oerlikon, Lufthansa Technik (the MRO division of Lufthansa) has opened a dedicated Additive Manufacturing Centre to develop lightweight 3D printed Aerospace parts; Airbus began high-volume metal Additive Manufacturing of A350 Helicopter components; and most recently GE Additive signed alongside Korea Aerospace Industries Association (KAIA) and Incheon Industry-Academy Collaboration Institute (IIACI) an MoU with to support development of AM in South Korea Aerospace Market.
Overall, the event and recent news demonstrates how the potential of AM can be realised through continued support by policy-makers, through projects such Horizon Europe, as well as industry R&D investments and serious adoption of AM technologies.
In tandem with technology development and implementation, standardisation will grow in stature in the AM sphere to provide a more concrete base for such market uptake. SAE’s AMS-AM Additive Manufacturing technical committee, responsible for developing and maintaining aerospace materials and process specifications for AM, will be central to this by helping to accelerate progress, and provide a platform for AM knowledge transfer from other regions to Europe and vice-versa.