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Innovation for Digital Fabrication

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Roadmap to a manufacturing revolution

As the world is becoming more digital and connected, the transition from analogue to digital technologies can have a profound impact on materials and manufacturing. An EU-funded project has identified the most promising digital fabrication technologies and pointed out the direction to transform European industries.

Digital Economy

Digital fabrication has the potential to enable innovations that bypass the established mass production infrastructure. Computer-controlled tools can transform digital designs directly into physical products. Scientists envision that people will soon be able to order and locally produce their own products in materials of their choice. They will not need to be bound by the mass-produced selection found in stores. The aim of the EU-funded project 'Innovation for digital fabrication' (DIGINOVA) was to catalyse this transition to the digital domain. Materials researchers and industrial entrepreneurs were mobilised to map the most promising applications, key technology challenges and new business opportunities. Their findings were summarised in the first-ever roadmap for digital fabrication, providing guidance for innovation in digital fabrication technologies. DIGINOVA partners contributed to the roadmap with their expertise in several digital fabrication technologies, processes and a wide range of materials. In particular, digital printing has already enabled full customisation for a range of applications, which is a real shift from mass production. This has already been demonstrated in the printing industry and in areas such as printed textiles, ceramic tile decoration, sensors, and organic light-emitting diodes applications. From the competitiveness perspective, European companies are strong in areas like printing with metals and other functional materials. But this position requires continuous innovation, especially where competitors are fast approaching. The DIGINOVA roadmap is expected to serve as a meaningful framework for innovation in digital fabrication leading European industries from their 20th century analogue roots to their 21st century digital future. The DIGINOVA project has provided clear guidance by clarifying the most promising future opportunities, as well as key barriers potentially interfering with the success of digital manufacturing.

Keywords

Materials manufacturing, digital fabrication, innovation, additive manufacturing, printed textiles

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