PENTA project AMPERE: 4D manufacturing for mechatronics systems

10 Mar 2022

Additive Manufacturing based Production of Embedded Robust Electronics.

This PENTA project is creating innovative techniques, materials and processes for ‘4D manufacturing’ methods: that is, combining Additive Manufacturing (AM, also known as 3D printing) with embedded (built-in) reliable electronics. These new methods will enable more flexible, local and customised production to faster respond to market changes. In addition, by combining for the first time, the manufacture of electronics, mechanical and optical functionalities (mechatronics) into a hybrid approach, AMPERE’s results will allow for new unique product designs.

Today, most of the goods we use are produced in factories optimised to deliver high volumes of low cost, high-quality products. And much of this manufacturing is concentrated in specific regions of the world, particularly Asia. However, as digitalisation advances, industrial production is becoming increasingly automated, based on computer-controlled machines and systems, artificial intelligence and machine learning (known as Industry 4.0 or Smart Industry).

At the same time, products themselves are becoming digital or include digital functionalities, from LED lighting in our homes to medical devices that keep us well. Plus, there is growing demand for more personalisation which requires flexible, customisable production instead of today’s highly standardized designs and components.

AMPERE is responding to these challenges by creating hybrid 4D manufacturing processes that will enable mechanical, electrical and optical functionalities to be integrated into end-products. The project will develop essential technology, smart processes and industrial production systems tailored to the needs of real-world industry. The resulting scalable hybrid 4D manufacturing will allow for flexible and cost-effective production, from small series mass customization through to higher volumes. And the project partners will demonstrate the approach in product cases covering LED luminaires, signal and power electronics, and medical devices.

To achieve its goals, the AMPERE project has brought together companies and research institutes with technical competencies and expertise across the complete value chain of materials, processes, equipment, product design, manufacturing, and applications. Its outcomes will be important in maintaining Europe’s existing strength in high-quality equipment, materials, and products and extending its leadership to the digital domain.

Commercially, the project’s results will be relevant for three huge markets. Firstly, AM which is a rapidly growing market (21% from 2017-2018) valued at USD 10 billion in 2019.[1] Secondly, 3D printed electronics, likewise a growing sector, expected to reach a total value in excess of USD 2 billion by 2029.[2] And thirdly, Electronic Manufacturing Services which was worth USD 463.2 billion globally in 2019[1] with annual growth currently exceeding 10%. For European companies, this new 4D manufacturing approach offers not only opportunities for leadership in digital design and manufacture in these major markets, but also the potential to bring back an important portion of the electronics manufacturing value chain to Europe.

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[1] Wohlers Report 2018  

[2] 3D Printed Electronics and Circuit Prototyping 2019-2029, IDTechEx  

[3] Electronic Manufacturing Services Market Analysis and Global Outlook, Beroe Report 2019