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Additive manufacturing for tabletop nanofactories

Specific challenge: Additive manufacturing (AM) delivers a new manufacturing paradigm: it makes the rapid, distributive manufacture of complex objects possible, and has the potential to reduce waste. What is truly transformative about additive manufacturing is the potential to manufacture individual products anywhere in the world, and to customise each of them. Rather than make manufactured goods in one place and ship them around the world, additive manufacturing technologies, such as 3D printing makes it possible to send design blueprints instantaneously via the internet, and manufacture them when and where they are needed.

3D printers are growing in sophistication, and can create increasingly complex objects, including those with different component parts. Breakthroughs in techniques such as metal sintering and processing of ceramic materials mean that 3D printers are no longer restricted to generic plastics. The use of nanoparticles in 3D printing is progressing rapidly, and could vastly increase the range of products that can be manufactured in this way.

Scope: As a part of a wider initiative towards nano-manufacturing, the objective of this topic is to advance the state-of-the art of AM materials through modification of their fundamental material properties using nanotechnology and to develop novel additive manufacturing techniques that incorporate new functionalities and/or significant performance increase, e.g. by utilising printable high-strength materials in the manufactured components. For example, carbon nanotube or other functional nano-structures could be embedded and combined with the printing process to perform electronic functions such as sensing and communications, or bio materials, such as flexible polymers or ceramics could be used to create bio-inspired structures.

For this topic, proposals should include an outline of the initial exploitation and business plans, which will be developed further in the proposed project.

Activities expected to focus on Technology Readiness Level 4-5. Implemented as cross-KET activities.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 3 and 5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact:

                Enabling Europe to compete at the forefront of the additive manufacturing revolution, which in the long term will lead into entire new production and consumption paradigms;

                Enabling manufacturing activities by SMEs to enter markets with innovations that were not possible before;

                Widening the range of available AM materials and functionalities in products will accelerate the transition of AM from mere prototyping towards production and use;

                Enabling functionality embedded in AM parts displaces the need for multiple manufacturing operations, making AM processes even more cost effective, including for small series production;

                Enabling the identification of future development needs in related fields, e.g. in seamless design-to-manufacturing software and standardization for material and process quality.

                Promoting safe-by-design approaches in collaboration with the EU nano-safety cluster and contributing towards the framework of EU nanosafety and regulatory strategies[1].

Type of action: Research & Innovation Actions

[1] EU Nano-safety strategy 2015-2020 and NanoReg project