At the Additive Manufacturing European Conference (AMEC) 2020, held online on December 2, 2020, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries (CECIMO) invited Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and industry representatives to discuss the strategic importance of Additive Manufacturing for European industrial competitiveness.
According to CECIMO, the discussion offered the opportunity to reflect on how recent healthcare supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could represent a ‘wake-up call’ for other industries, such as energy, medical and automotive. The general consensus during the discussions was that Europe should channel investment into AM applications that could support the digital and green transition of industry.
The event was moderated by Fabian Zuleeg, European Policy Centre (EPC) and was divided into two sessions: Policy and Industry.
The Policy session was opened by MEP Susana Solís Pérez (RE), who stressed that the EU needs to strengthen its industry sector to guarantee a stable production during difficult times. Solís stated that Additive Manufacturing can contribute significantly to the new EU industrial strategy, thanks to its potential to ensure industrial competitiveness and supply chain resilience.
MEP Michael Bloss (Greens/EFA) highlighted the opportunity the EU now has to maintain Europe’s leadership in the manufacturing sector by encouraging and supporting innovation, including acting as a frontrunner in the green transition. MEP Christophe Grudler (RE) stated that the EU needs to secure a leading position in AM and advanced manufacturing by investing in initiatives that would promote the development of a skilled workforce, and helping the current workforce adapt to changes in manufacturing.
The Industry session was opened by Stewart Lane, Chairman of CECIMO’s Additive Manufacturing Committee and General Manager at Renishaw. Lane called on policymakers to embrace a forward-looking vision for the industry in Europe, emphasising: “It’s important to use legislation to enable the best use of the technologies such as AM, for example bringing manufacturing back to Europe, and keep an innovation-friendly regulatory framework.”
The speakers on the industry panel showcased innovative ways of using Additive Manufacturing and illuminated the challenges facing its further adoption in traditional supply chains. Cristian Fracassi of Isinnova noted, “3D printing enables a global sharing economy cutting production costs and supply chain restrictions,” while Mariel Diaz, Triditive, explained that “Companies interested in using AM need to start from the development of the digital inventories of those parts that they wish to produce. Without this step, the integration of AM will be much more difficult.”
During a Q&A session, the panel discussed decentralised manufacturing as a viable solution for different supply chains. Paul Heiden, Ultimaker, explained: “An important aspect of using decentralised manufacturing is to allow the possibility to repair the part directly on-site when needed. This opportunity will be a game-changer for the end-user and the 3D printing industry.”
Roberta Sampieri, FCA group, highlighted the challenge of decentralising production in the automotive sector, and pointed out that “One factor that could speed up this transition is the qualification of the printing process and quality assurance of the part,” while Angeline Goh, Shell, stated, “The adoption of AM in the energy sector will go hand in hand with the standardisation of the quality of spare parts production.”
The event was closed by Filip Geerts, CECIMO Director General. In his closing address, Geerts called for financial support to those industries (and particularly SMEs) that wish to increase the resilience of their supply chain.