Logo: Subsea Valley

An urgent need for a Norwegian 3D HUB

Chief scientist Tor Dokken at SINTEF Digital calls for establishing a Norwegian HUB for 3D printing and envisions Subsea Valley in a central role.

STOKKE: Dokken was one of the main speakers at a recent Subsea Valley-seminar focusing on additive manufacturing, better known as 3D printing.

- There are lots of companies that are interested in additive manufacturing. But they have problems finding where to start, the SINTEF-representative said during the 3D-Conference held at FossTech's facilities in Stokke, Vestfold.

Companies from different sectors can share their competence and retrieve useful advice from other companies, research institutes and universities regarding for instance 3D-printing, he claimed and put Subsea Valley (SSV) in a central position to get a HUB kick-started.

- It is the strength of the interplay within the regional network and the collective level of competence among their members that will make the role a natural one for Subsea Valley.

He sees that SSV could take a leading role as a catalyst in the 3D-field targeting additive manufacturing for the Norwegian industry-sector and claims that SSV can help trigger financing from for instance Innovation Norway and The Research Council of Norway among other sources.

- In this way funding agencies can channel economic resources through the HUB to provide technological assistance to the companies through the network of competence centres, educate the companies in the new technologies, give them some space and time to learn and adapt, thus helping them along their first steps into the use of additive manufacturing, he said.

Early days
The chief scientist from SINTEF Digital in Oslo described an early 3D-stage of development where there are huge amounts of curiosity and interest from the Norwegian industry. The problem is that they don't know who to contact and what products to utilize in additive manufacturing.

- There are about 20 different technologies connected to the printing of different materials. What products or components are suited for additive manufacturing, what technology is the most relevant, what is the design, who is able to design for additive manufacturing, etc. There are many questions and still just a few people to answer them. The idea is to have one point of contact for the Norwegian industry where they can bring their questions and ideas about 3D printing. Then the HUBs connects the industry to the right competences in the network of competence centres.

A European view
Dokken also urges Norwegian businesses to look outside Norway. The scientist is already involved in EUs CAxMan-project (www.caxman.eu) as a project coordinator. CAxMan is the abbreviation for Computer Aided Technologies for Additive Manufacturing and receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The objectives of CAxMan are to establish cloud based toolboxes, workflows and a one stop-shop that are integrated in the 3D-process for additive manufacturing.

New Norwegian opportunities
- Norwegian manufacturing industries should also be aware of the I4MS initiative promoted by the EC to support the European leadership in manufacturing through the adoption of ICT technologies. The I4MS projects are based on cascading funding where the projects have open call for experiments for industrial end-users within different areas, Dokken informed the audience of 130 people who had attended the 3D-seminar.

On January 19th the I4MS-3 call closed that included a call for projects that would address cross border design experiments for first time users of additive manufacturing.

- We expect that the selected projects will start before the end of 2017 and that open calls for new experiments will be announced late 2017 or early 2018. These calls will allow Norwegian industries to address design experiments for additive manufacturing that can not be addressed at a regional or national level, design experiments where cross border cooperation is needed.