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Flemish 3D Printing Companies to Present Large-scale Collaboration at formnext

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Thirty Flemish companies and research institutions are currently putting the last hand to ‘Family of the Future’, a demonstration project on 3D printing. The results of the cooperation will be presented on November 8 during the Prototyping 2017 trade fair in Kortrijk, Belgium and on November 14 at Formnext in Frankfurt, Germany. Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen will highlight the importance of co-creation at both occasions.

Under the moniker “Family of the Future,” these organizations collaborate on the realization of three virtual persons that consist of more than 90 3D-printed components. The participants try to visualize how 3D printing will be used in the context of the family (but also the factory) of the future. The development of the project is being managed by the Flemish cluster association for 3D printing, Flam3D.

“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,” explains 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.”

For this reason, the participating organizations will also attempt to provide an overview of existing 3D-printing technologies and how these can provide real added value across a wide range of sectors. The collaboration will, therefore, give an overview of many different techniques.

“We want to inspire companies in a creative way: by demonstrating the technologies in a recognizable setting,” explains Pieter Machtelinckx, Communications Manager at Flam3D. “We especially hope that visitors will be inspired and learn something about the technology.”

While 3D printing is touted too often as the production technology of the future, many companies aren’t aware of the current possibilities the technology has to offer. “A lot of parts we’re going to show are actually already produced on a daily basis. However, the slogan ‘the future is now’ was already taken, ” Binon blinks.

At the base of the project lies a unique feature of the Flemish 3D-print ecosystem: the strong network with close links to different organizations. As an organization, in order to build up a competitive advantage, knowledge is becoming increasingly important.

Yet, the exponential increase in data and information makes it impossible for a single organization to collect or manage all the required knowledge. “Organizations that realize this, are working together to achieve more. By bringing the strengths of different organizations together through co-creation, the value gets added to the final product. Besides, Flanders is still a top-innovation region when it comes to 3D-printing and co-creation,” Kris Binon states. This certainly appears true with regards to co-creation: a cooperation of this scale is rarely seen in any sector.

The project will be showcased for the first time on November 8 at the Prototyping trade fair in Kortrijk where Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen will, amongst others, initiate the launch and networking event. The international premiere will follow a week later with a press conference on November 15th at Formnext in Frankfurt, the largest 3D print exhibition in Europe. The concept will then continue to travel for a year along various technology events, trade fairs and schools with the purpose of spreading knowledge on 3D-printing

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