There is no real Silicon Valley for 3D printing as of yet. Germany has a lot of the industrial OEMs and a lot of activity around DMLS and sintering as well as research activity centered around the dueling Fraunhofer sisters. Sweden has a lot of activity because of the steel companies and the commercialization of DMLS and EBM that happened there. The Netherlands took an early lead in desktop 3D printing. Meanwhile, Belgium has a lot of medical printing thanks to Materialise and the University of Leuven. The US is now birthing startups with tens of millions of dollars in funding each as well as being the place where Stratasys and 3D Systems started. China is making heavy investments in 3D printing and there is some activity in Korea, Japan, France, Italy, and Spain. I may have uncharitably left out one or two countries but essentially thats it, 3D printing is rather thin on the ground globally. There is no nexus. Singapore and Dubai are spending heavily on trying to be the center of 3D printing. What if you don’t have that kind of funding or national will? One other path to creating a concentration of 3D printing companies and activity was shown to me by the Dansk AM Hub. They have done a remarkable job of bringing together firms, entrepreneurs and researchers in 3D printing. From a 3D printing noweheresland the country is now making strides in 3D printed homes, collective projects, collaboration and centralizing its 3D printing efforts. How did the Dansk AM Hub bring so many people together in order to direct the Danish AM community and what can we learn from that? I spoke to their communications manager Vibeke Kristiansen to find out.
What does the Hub do?
Danish AM Hub is Denmark’s national focal point for Additive Manufacturing. Our goal is to strengthen Danish business competitiveness by promoting the use of Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing. Our focus is on small and medium-sized companies and developing new business models that induce growth, innovation and sustainable solutions. We were established in January 2018.
Danish AM Hub hosts a number of events during the year, amongst other the big yearly international conference, the Danish AM Summit, which will be held on October 2end 2019 in Copenhagen. Danish AM Hub also publishes a yearly report mapping the landscape of AM in Danish companies.
During the year we have different initiatives where SME’s can learn about 3D print, borrow printers to try the technology, workshops where companies work on their own ideas and business models with experts etc.
Why was it founded?
Danish AM Hub was founded by The Danish Industry Foundation, who is financing the initiative for the first four years. Danish AM Hub was founded to promote AM to danish SME’s to strengthen their competitiveness.
What advice would you give me if I wanted to start a similar organization in another country?
Most other organizations or initiatives work on developing and solving technical issues, but our focus is on how to create new business models. We are not focusing on the technolgy it self, but the impact and effect AM will bring. So the advice would be to not just look at technical issues, but also the impact and effect, making new business opportunities possible.
Why have you been so successful?
AM can be used in all kinds of businesses and sectors for many different products, so we want to inspire the companies by showing a broad variety of the best cases. Before we started many of the actors in around AM never met. We aim to connect all actors around 3D print as a hub. This enables knowledge sharing to benefit everyone who wishes to integrate AM in their production. We aim to make activities that can create value for companies so hopefully, this will make a difference for the companies involved.
Denmark seems to be taking a lead in 3D printing for construction, is that a strategy?
The first 3D printed house is in Denmark, by 3D Printhuset. It is mostly private companies working on own initiatives. And in general, there is an awareness and a focus on digitalization in Denmark.
How are you managing to coordinate all of these initiatives and firms?
We set up initiatives and work with experts and agencies. We are also very depended on cooperation with all actors and experts in the field to work with us promoting AM – hopefully for the benefit of all of us. This seems to be working so far. There is a lot of willingness to support our initiatives, so we can fulfill our role as a focal point.
Are your events only for Danish people?
The Danish AM Summit 2019 will be held in Copenhagen on October 2end 2019 and that is an international event. We also have an international advisory board, where we focus on knowledge sharing. The activity and programmes for SME’s is only for Danish Companies.
What do you hope to do in the future?
Our mission is to change the way the world thinks about manufacturing. So we hope to inspire companies to consider how their production will look like in a digital world, and to change the mindset around production with a technology that allows new ways of doing design, production and supply chains.