A couple of months ago, nonprofit group Flam3D introduced an intriguing new project: Family of the Future, a collaboration that brought together 29 partner organizations for a project that would showcase the possibilities of additive manufacturing in a new way. The goal of the project is to demonstrate the real-world applications of the technology to those who can most benefit from it, and to encourage companies that haven’t explored it yet to see what it can do for them.
“Despite all the hype surrounding it, 3D printing is still relatively unknown for many businesses, and they’re missing out on opportunities because of this,” said Kris Binon, General Director of Flam3D. “Maybe because the designation ‘3D-printing’ is somewhat misleading? At least 15 different techniques of 3D-printing exist already.”
The name of the project, Family of the Future, has multiple meanings – it reflects the family of companies, which is now up to 30 members, working together, as well as the project’s focus on a literal future family living everyday life surrounded by 3D printed things. The aim of the project isn’t just to show the industrial potential of 3D printing, but to demonstrate how average people can benefit from it, and how businesses can use the technology to reach the typical consumer. The project will center around three virtual people with more than 90 3D printed components, and will include contributions such as a smart watch concept from project partner Twikit.
“The theme ‘family of the future’ proves once more that 3D printing is not a technology which is only accessible for a happy few, but that it is and will become increasingly relevant for everyone by incorporating it in products we all wear and use,” Martijn Joris, Co-founder of Twikit, told 3DPrint.com. “In this context Twikit is working together to create a concept of a smart-watch of which the casing can be customized and 3D printed in titanium, resulting in a personal and functional product. The first 3D printed parts have just arrived at the Twikit office. They look awesome. We are curious ourselves to see the final result of ‘the family’, where all the different products will be combined and exhibited. For sure this will result in new innovations!”
The project will offer an overview of multiple different 3D printing techniques, to give viewers an idea not only of the many potential applications of the technology but of the many different methods of 3D printing there are. Such a comprehensive demonstration required the participation of multiple companies, and Family of the Future also displays the close relationships between the large network of 3D printing companies that exist in the Flanders region. The additive manufacturing world is too big for one company to encompass on its own, so the collaborative nature of the project is what its participants expect to lead to its success.
Through the demonstration, the Family of the Future collaborators hope to further broaden the ecosystem of 3D printing companies, to bring others into the network of businesses that rely on each other to help build and expand the additive manufacturing world.
“We see ‘Family of the Future’ as just one step in a long walk towards bringing Additive Manufacturing into existing value chains,” Pieter Machtelinckx, Communications Manager at Flam3D, told 3DPrint.com. “Flam3D wants to expand its network and reach, in order to be truly demand-driven: driven by the demand of what the manufacturing enterprises truly need, and driven by the demand of the Additive Manufacturing industry to bring meaningful innovation to the market.
The ‘demonstrator’ Family of the Future is therefore just one activity, part of a broader strategy. Other activities include networking, matchmaking, exhibitions, education on all levels, and many more. We are, as a not-for-profit organisation, continuously working on shaping the landscape. We feel there’s still a need for this type of activities, as we notice that some parts cannot be tackled by companies on their own.”
Family of the Future will be presented to the public at Prototyping 2017, which will be taking place November 8 and 9 in Kotrijk, Belgium, and at formnext, which will be taking place from November 14 to 17 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com, or share your thoughts below.[Images via Family of the Future unless otherwise noted]