Last year, 3D Factory Incubator, the first high tech business incubator specializing in 3D printing in Europe, celebrated its inauguration in Barcelona. After reporting on a successful first 100 days this summer, we’re happy to say that the initiative has had an excellent first year in operation.
The project, which is led and promoted by technological institute Fundación LEITAT and public self-funded company El Consorci de Zona Franca de Barcelona (CZFB), with financial support from the ERDF via Spain’s Fundación INCYDE, promotes 3D printing adoption by creating a space to incubate related startups, SMEs, and micro-enterprises. The initiative is part of a growing AM hub in Barcelona, and offers marketing services, co-working spaces, and access to a 3D printing lab.
3D Factory Incubator has a target of hosting the 100 best 3D printing-based business ideas in five years, and has been working hard to make this a reality over the last twelve months by encouraging the business take-off of incubated initiatives, by providing multiple services such as business consulting, parts testing, general incubation services, advice on internationalization and marketing, and 3D production technology services.
Its over 600 m2 of space features private offices, meeting rooms, a co-working and training area, and a comprehensive laboratory with eight 3D production units and a post-processing and metrology area. The lab features six different industrial and small-format 3D printing technologies, in addition to multiple design and post-processing equipment, such as a polisher, sandblaster, and systems for metrology and quality control of parts.
Over the past year, the 3DFactory has been encouraging its incubated initiatives to get going in the business world, by offering its more than 500 consulting and training services, marketing activities, parts certification, and post-processing production technologies. In 2019, the incubator hosted over 30 sessions on 3D printing-related topics for each aspect of the AM value chain, in addition to networking sessions, business development, financing and training for startups. 3D Factory Incubator also participated in multiple conferences and seminars that helped provide visibility to the initiative and its incubated projects, like the 4YFN and INDUSTRY From Needs to Solutions conferences.
As mentioned previously, the goal was to reach 100 incubated companies in five years, with 25 in the first year. In just this one year, 3D Factory Incubator has reached over 30, including 3D printing service provider Layertolayer; 3DBide, which provides 3D printing solutions and advice for equipment, development, training, implementation, and investment decision-making regarding new products related to 3D printing; and E4-3D Engineering for Additive Manufacturing, which offers spare parts for multiple vehicle brands.
According to Leitat’s Executive Vice President, Joan Parra, the incubator owes its success this first year to “…finding a need in the sector and being able to offer this emerging talent, through the 3D Factory Incubator, the support needed to boost your business, not only through access to spaces and professional advice, but also through access to the latest technology in 3D printing and post-processing on the market.”
It looks like things aren’t slowing down anytime soon: the production lab for incubated projects recently expanded by acquiring a DLP 3D printer for biocompatible and CE-certified materials. Soon, 3DFactory will likely incorporate a second processing station from HP for work with flexible TPU, in addition to several post-processing systems, such as an air-blasting parts cleaning system, a graffiti machine, and a dyeing machine.
“The forecast was that, in the first year, 20 companies would be installed and the reality is that we already have more than 30. This is a five-year project, but it has a second derivative which is the Dfactory 4.0, an industrial project that we are already building on the industrial estate; by June 2020 it will be a reality,” said Pere Navarro, Special State Delegate from the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona. He continued, noting that the DFactory 4.0 “will be a 21st century factory, where there will be 3D printing, robotics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and blockchain; that is to say it will welcome the new economy via companies that have already shown interest in occupying these spaces, with the ambition of making Barcelona the European capital of Economy and Industry 4.0.”
Thanks to project promoters Leitat and CZFB spreading the word about the initiative’s success so far, of the over 80 applications received to 3D Factory Incubator, 79% have national headquarters and 21% are international. The organizations are both pleased with the success of 3DFactory’s first year, and many even take the model to other countries, like Colombia.
You can visit the website to see the current call to submit 3D printing-related projects to the initiative.
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