Family of the Future: Unprecedented Collaboration Brings 29 Partners Together to Advance Additive Manufacturing


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Sirris : Liège

No single company will propel 3D printing technology to its full potential; the industry around additive manufacturing will have to come together for a realizable future. The necessity of collaboration is increasingly coming into focus, and Belgium is among the countries specifically heralding co-creation in additive manufacturing. The biggest theme underscoring this spring’s Materialise World Summit in Brussels saw keynotes and conversations come back time and again to co-creation, to collaboration, to partnerships. Today, the Flanders region is in the spotlight as Flam3D introduces a massive collaborative effort: Family of the Future.

No stranger to collaboration, nonprofit organization Flam3D has previously led a collaborative project working toward a unique 3D printed bicycle. That project, bringing together 15 collaborators, provided a solid testing ground for the additive manufacturing cluster, which has used this experience as a springboard for a project with nearly double the partners. Family of the Future is seeing 29 companies and research organizations come together with a common goal, as Flam3D explains.

“The main goals of this project are to demonstrate how 3D Printing techniques and applications can add real value across a wide range of sectors, as we experience there’s still a lack of knowledge around Additive Manufacturing in the industry in general,” Pieter Machtelinckx, Flam3D Communications Manager tells

“Many companies aren’t aware of the true possibilities the technology has to offer. Of course we’re happy that we’ll be able to unveil some new and exciting techniques or applications along the way as well: the project will host some true innovations on topology optimization, ceramics printing, printed electronics, etc.”

Family of the Future is described as a demonstration case designed to clarify 3D printing technologies and their realizable applications. Realities of manufacturing are an important part of the story of additive manufacturing as, for the technology to see increased adoption, demonstrable use cases and real-world benefits need to be more widely understood. The goal is for that understanding to be more thoroughly dispersed among those who could best benefit from adopting additive manufacturing into their workflows. To get that word out, and showcase uses for 3D printing beyond its initial uses solely in rapid prototyping, a variety of entities are working together as a family of collaborators.

“An important differentiator that sets this project apart from other showcase projects is that all the participating organizations (29 in total) decided to work on this project together. A collaboration of this scale is almost unseen in any industry,” Machtelinckx tells us.

“These companies and research institutes realize that working and developing together adds value to the end result, and this eagerness to cooperate helps the industry drive forward. New partnerships have been established as part of the development process of this project, and some new applications for market use are being developed as a result of these business partnerships.”

The question of how to most effectively increase rates of adoption is one more frequently being asked among additive manufacturing industry participants, and a primary way ahead is education. While formal schooling will be critical to the future growth of the industry and its associated talent pool, professional development and industry training are necessary now. Technologies available today could potentially add great value to a number of business operations across the board, but because the hardware, software, materials, and other capabilities are not fully understood nor often widely communicated, adoption is still low relative to its current potential. Family of the Future is seeking to inspire companies and research institutions through this spread of information.

Working with more than 90 examples of 3D printed components, project collaborators seek to demonstrate context for printed parts across several verticals. Specifically in focus are the automotive, aviation, and medical industries. Example parts will include 3D printed electronics as well as components created from materials that extend beyond well-known plastics, including metals and ceramics. By the numbers of the project, Family of the Future notes that it turns to:

  • 29 additive manufacturing organizations
  • 14 different 3D printing technologies
  • 91 unique 3D printed parts
  • 962 cups of coffee consumed and counting

Sirris : Liège

While personally I have to assume they’re lowballing the coffee count, the numbers here demonstrate a real drive to get a range of information out to those who could benefit from its understanding. While we can’t study their caffeine intake too closely, we can see the parties involved. Partner organizations in Family of the Future include:

  • 3iD, AMT-Titastar, Aqtor!, Arteveldehogeschool, CADskills, DeltaRocket, DSM Somos, ESMA, Formando, GC Europe, Howest, KU Leuven, LCV, Materialise, Raytech, Renishaw, Ricoh, RS Print, Seido Systems, Sirris, Tenco DDM, Thomas More, Twikit, UC Leuven-Limburg, UGent, UHasselt, Velleman, VUB and Vives.

Many of these names will no doubt be familiar as entities that have been working toward a collaborative future in additive manufacturing. Materialise, for example, has presented partnerships as the biggest driver of innovation in 3D printing today, while Renishaw has worked on projects from aerospace to healthcare to showcase and put to use the latest in metal additive manufacturing.

“Co-creation adds value: what Additive Manufacturing really needs for the future, is cooperation. Beyond the hype, there’s a world in which we must work together – both in- and outside the Additive Manufacturing ecosystem. A solution to a specific problem rarely lies within one single company,” explains Kris Binon, General Director of Flam3D.

Sirris : Liège

Family of the Future will be presented starting in November, first in Belgium at the Prototyping expo on the 8th in Kortrijk, and then internationally at formnext in Frankfurt, Germany, beginning on the 14th.

According to Flam3D, Flanders is at the forefront of 3D printing innovation, beyond the technical level through its unique sectoral cooperation that they feel propels them ahead of international competition. The scale and scope of Family of the Future in particular, with its over two dozen partners, shows a concentrated industry drive representative of many players and their expertise across several verticals and technologies. Discuss in the Family of the Future forum at

[All images via Flam3D]


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