Current manufacturing production is optimised for high volumes of low cost, high quality products. Yet, as digitalization and Industry 4.0 (Smart Industry) expand, the drawbacks of this conventional manufacturing become clear. In particular, it leads to a lack of flexibility and highly standardised designs and components. The AMPERE project will develop reliable and scalable digital 4D manufacturing methods with embedded robust electronics. By combining Additive Manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) and the fourth dimension – the addition of electrical and optical functionalities, AMPERE aims to enable flexible, reliable production of smart systems with relevance for Industry 4.0 and smart industrial processes. These in turn will allow for new functionalities beyond those possible with conventional fabrication techniques in areas such as lighting, signal and power electronics, and medical devices.
Worldwide, the market for electronic products and manufacturing is evolving at unprecedented speed and in disparate directions, demanding optimized and customized solutions. This market is being shaped by increasing digitalization and in Europe, the industrial response to the ever-increasing digitization of society is found in initiatives such as Industry 4.0 which make intensive use of ICT. Such Smart Industry initiatives rely not only on ICT (data collection and analysis, sensor data, connectivity and IoT approaches), but also address the physical aspects of manufacturing such as Additive Manufacturing (AM) together with smart automation/robotics.
As these changing demands emerge, they are highlighting the limitations of current manufacturing infrastructure with its focus on mass production, much of which is in Asia. Specifically, this mass production has led to standardized components and designs, limited shape freedom, a rigid supply chain and pressure to minimize variation as associated fixed costs need to be amortized over many produced units.
AM techniques have the potential to enable flexible manufacturing processes better suited to the new demands of a digitalized society and smart industry. It could allow for the production of a wide range of mechatronic end-products. However, for this, the individual and combined processes, quality standards, reliability and integration with current methods need to be brought to a higher maturity level.
Bringing flexibility to mass manufacturing
AMPERE is responding to this challenge by creating new integrated manufacturing processes that enable 4D integration of mechanical, electrical, and optical functionalities into end-products. The project has four key objectives:
- Develop and integrate Essential Technology for scalable hybrid 4D manufacturing that is both flexible and cost-effective, from small series mass customization through to higher production volumes whilst meeting the real needs of industry …
- … through digital Smart Processes of 4D products (integrated mechanical, electrical and optical functionalities)
- Develop scalable and reliable Industrial Production Systems in combination with the essential technology and smart processes
- Demonstrate the hybrid 4D manufacturing approach in three innovative product cases covering different applications and sectors: LED luminaires, signal and power electronics, medical devices.
Read the full project profile here.