Dresden now claiming to be Europe’s 3D print capital



It seems that there’s a new ‘Capital of 3D printing’, each and every week. Now Dresden, in East Germany, has thrown its hat into the ring.


We all know that 3D printing has the power to change the world and a global center for 3D printing excellence could, in essence, make a new Silicon Valley anywhere in the world. A city would suddenly have a draw for the brightest technical minds, major companies would lay down roots and it would inevitably spark a huge level of investment.


3D print capital is a good title to have

So laying claim to the title of ‘Europe’s capital of 3D printing’ makes good business sense for Dresden, especially as it heads to the Hanover Trade Fair that takes place from April 25-29. Materials Week is the focus of the 3D printing industry and that will take place from the 27-29, which is confusing in itself.


“Dresden is Europe’s most important location for microelectronics, which is known world-wide,” Raoul Schmidt-Lamontain, Mayor and Councilor for Urban Development, Building and Transport of Dresden says. “Dresden also leads Europe in the materials sector and additive-generative production. The Hanover Trade Fair 2016 is an important industry fair and the ideal forum for Dresden researchers and entrepreneurs to display their outstanding expertise and introduce novel 3D printing technologies.”


Of course there are a number of cities that might dispute the claim. Consumer 3D printing found its first real European base in Amsterdam, London leads the way in terms of investment and start-ups and a vast number of others have tentatively laid claim to the title.


Impressive numbers behind the bold claim

While we can take the city’s claim with a pinch of salt, there are some impressive numbers in Dresden’s claims. It reveals that a study by Roland Berger has shown the 3D printing industry has grown 20% year on year since 2004. It also claims that is set to increase to 30% in the years ahead and the tantalising prospect of full 3D print manufacturing is just around the corner.


Dresden is now trying to position itself as a European hub of 3D printing and wants to build a community around the Franhofer Institutute, which is actually based in Munich and has 67 locations in Germany. The institution is doing incredible work in 3D printing and is looking to unite the likes of Rolls-Royce, Siemens and Airbus, to create a collective with the research and development budget to push 3D printing to a whole new level.


“Classic production creates objects through casting, cutting or transforming of semi-finished products,” Cluster Coordinator Christoph Leyens, Professor of Material Technology at TU Dresden said. “3D printing makes complex and individualized production possible, and creates components with completely new shapes and functionalities. For instance, In the future we will be able to manufacture engines and cylinder heads for vehicles or gas turbines and energy-efficient burner systems from one single piece.”


Calcium implants the way forward

Researchers at Fraunhofer IKTS will present ceramic research that could drive bone and dental implants created from calcium phosphate that will actually grow and graft to the existing bone. These implants have the potential to replace titanium. This will reduce the rejection rate, improve the quality of bone grafts and bring a better quality of life to patients around the world.


“We expect the biomaterial to be available for application in practice in the near future, once all ongoing clinical tests have been concluded,” Leyens added.


Researchers in Dresden are working on the next level of material rigidity, too, including fibre-reinforced materials that will increase the resistance to varying load directions. With the modelling capability and precise construction on offer with 3D printing, this could lead to the next generation of lightweight materials that leave today’s strongest options trailing in their wake.


“Additive-generative manufacturing that, for the first time, features fiber reinforcement according to load direction, opens up new fields of application for custom-tailored lightweight construction solutions in multilateral designs,” Hubert Jäger, Professor of System Lightweight Construction and Composite Construction and Board Spokesman for The Institute for Lightweight Engineering and Polymer Technology (ILK) at TU Dresden. “The engineers at the ILK are developing procedures to make the presently used layered 3D printing more stable by inserting carbon fiber and producing three-dimensional objects of high rigidity.”


There is clearly some exciting work going on in Dresden and it does have a great deal to offer the world of additive printing. Of course we’re not sure that makes it Europe’s capital, but we’re happy to see Dresden getting behind 3D printing in a big way.