Report on 3D-printing: Current and future application areas, existing industrial value chains and missing competences in the EU

30 September 2016

IDEA Consult in consortium with CECIMO, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industry, VTT, the Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd and AIT, the Austrian Institute of Technology, has recently published a report on 3D printing. This report aims to detect missing capabilities in European regions in link with current and upcoming 3D-printing applications to encourage closer cooperation between actors across EU regions in accelerating the market uptake of 3D-printed solutions.

Some of the key findings:

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face barriers to take up AM technologies because of their limited resources. The developments in AM remain steered by large companies and Research and Technology Organisations (RTOs).
  • Value chains of AM’s key application areas (machine and airline parts, manufacturing moulds, implants and surgical planning tools, printed food, textiles, etc.) are not disrupted yet:  AM is still at an early stage in most application areas.
  • European regions are world leaders in areas like 's position like metal AM, selective laser melting or biomedical AM research.
  • Barriers to AM deployment often relate to the lack of skills, training and knowledge to standardize AM materials and processes.
  • The need of R&D support at the level of technology is crucial.
  • Most of the barriers relate to close-to-market needs and highlight the need for improved technology demonstration in Europe.
  • Some cross-regional and cross-value chain collaboration opportunities, relating to the imbalance between Western and Eastern European regions, the need for critical mass and knowledge flows, as well as the need for connecting AM supply and demand.
  • Other policy implications were put forward, including fostering the development of adapted curricula, awareness raising, certification efforts (e.g. for materials) and R&D support.

The input provided by CECIMO about the machine tool industry is of great importance, since the cross-regional demonstration and collaborative projects that were identified along and across value chains will feed into the Commission's actions to support the work of the Smart Specialisation Platform on Industrial Modernisation.

Author: IDEA Consult in consortium with VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology and CECIMO.
Report prepared for the European Commission, Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and commissioned by the Executive Agency for SMEs (EASME) in the framework of the Work Programme 2014 of the EU Programme for the Competitiveness of enterprises and SMEs (COSME).