CECIMO, the European Machine Tool Industry Association, has enlisted as a project partner in a new initiative to promote wider and faster industrialization of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. The effort is called AM-Motion, and will coordinate the resources and insights of manufacturing groups, like Airbus, with industrial stakeholders, like Siemens AG, and other developers of additive manufacturing processes, systems, and services, such as Materialise, a provider of 3D printing software and services to independent manufacturers and designers.

In all, there are 13 partners in the initiative, from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

AM-Motion will be a 26-month effort, funded by the Horizon2020, a “research and innovation program” launched by the European Union in 2014 with a nearly €80-billion ($88.3 billion) budget, aiming to accelerate industrial and manufacturing concepts from laboratories to production scale.

Additive manufacturing is gaining greater traction in established manufacturing programs as investors seek to speed up their returns and manufacturers seek to reduce their fixed costs for product development and production engineering. Also, technologies like stereolithography and fused deposition modeling, and particularly metal 3D printing processes like direct metal laser sintering, are being incorporated by CNC machine tool builders.

This is notable because CNC machine tools, by definition, perform “subtractive manufacturing.” Newer machines designed to perform milling/turning as well as SLA or DMLS are referred to as “hybrid manufacturing” systems.

Brussels-based CECIMO is a union of trade associations for over 1,500 companies across the European Union, companies who are responsible for 97% of machine tool production in the region. They also comprise over 33% of the world’s machine tool production capacity. In addition to documenting trade and production developments, the group works to articulate policies for the machine tool sector.

CECIMO has been working to assume a coordinating role for its member companies in the emergence of additive manufacturing. In 2015, it convened a conference for industrial, academic, policy, and standards experts to examine how the EU region's AM production might be expanded (“full-scale industrialization”) quickly and cost-effectively, while also “generating the highest value for society.” The latter point is in line with CECIMO’s agenda to promote the wider expansion and development of manufacturing technologies in the European Union, in particular as EU industries have reduced the scope and scale of their capital investments.

More recently, CECIMO joined a development program called “KRAKEN”, the goal of which is to integrate 3D printing, robotics, complex monitoring, and advanced control algorithms (supported by CAM software) in a single machine. The result would be an “all-in-one” additive and subtractive manufacturing system for metallic and non-metallic materials, able to print high-performance industrial products up to 20 meters long.

In the AM-Motion project, the focus is to define (“map out,” according to CECIMO) the industrial additive manufacturing market, defining the technical and regulatory obstacles, determining the connection to the wider Industry 4.0 trends, and identifying “practical business collaboration models.”

CECIMO will contribute to the final roadmap, drawing on its expertise with regulatory and education barriers, and will work to draw in contributions of “relevant actors and stakeholders in the machine tool value chains, ensuring project activities and results are well-communicated in the market and the EU industrial policy community.”

Also, CECIMO committed to secure the involvement of AM/3DP service providers (e.g., Materialise), additive manufacturing materials producers, and regional networks of stakeholders, consultancies, and public and private R&D centers.