The Dutch manufacturing industry is having trouble keeping up with worldwide disruptive technologies because of the high costs of investing in new technologies like 3D printing, robotics, sensor networking and internet of things. By opening a 3D excellence center, the Amsterdam region now houses an innovation pressure cooker that offers companies the latest in high tech hardware, software and knowledge.
3D printing is here to stay. Many sectors have started using the technology and are only going to increase their level of adoption of additive manufacturing technologies. The opportunities 3D printing provides in product design, cost savings, innovation acceleration, customization, personalization, durability, sustainability, maintenance, inventory management, transport, local production and smarter products promise an impact of proportions comparable to the influence of the internet on the media and information industry.
The city of Haarlem, close to Amsterdam, opened a facility that offers a unique one stop shop concept. Not only does the 3D Makers Zone house a number of industrial 3D printers (among which a Projet 5000, Projet 4500, a ZCorp 450, two ZCorp 650s and a Tractus3D 3 meter tall FDM-printer) and a Faro 3D scan arm, the print center also offers expertise, guidance and training in 3D modeling, 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing. The excellence center has an open doors policy, meaning that companies can come work in open innovation. Bringing together all kinds of specialties in disruptive technologies greatly speeds up innovation.
The 3D Makers Zone combines servicing companies with educating students and employees with the objective of creating the workforce of the future, the digital fabrication specialists the Dutch industry is waiting for. Both businesses and higher education in The Netherlands currently face the hurdle of high investments as the high end 3D printing equipment does not come cheap. By offering them to rent machine time, this excellence center fulfills its promise to speed up smart industries in The Netherlands.
The Dutch government runs an official Smart Industries program, but the gap between abstract theory and applied cases is still far too large. Furthermore, the Dutch ministry of Education has made it an official policy to reduce the distance between education and companies as newly graduated students today have trouble providing what companies ask. By developing fast, revolutionary innovations in collaboration, businesses and educational facilities gain the same new knowledge while decreasing the distance at the same time. In hackathons, 3D printing, internet of things, robotics, glass fibre technology, sensor networking, big data and other disruptive technologies are combined to come up with smart solutions.
The mayor of Haarlem opened the 3D Makers Zone while being handed a full color 3D printed chain of office to replace the one that was stolen back in 2011. As he turned the 3D printed key to open the 3D Makers Zone, the mayor said he was pleasantly surprised with the quality and fine detail of the 3D printed chain of office.