Among the latest projects being incubated, we find Layertolayer, which offers a complete 3D printing service; Designer Pram, which develops childcare products; E4-3D Engineering for Additive Manufacturing, which offers spare parts for various brands of vehicles; 3DBide which, in addition to offering printing solutions, provides advice for investment decision-making, implementation, equipment, training, and development of new products related to 3D printing.
The promoters of the project, the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona and the Leitat Technological Centre, highlighted the interest that the initiative has generated among start-ups and entrepreneurs from all over Europe. As a result, out of more than 80 applications received, 79% have national headquarters and 21% are international. Both organisations are very satisfied with the balance of this first year of activity, in which expectations of 25 incubated projects have been exceeded. And the possibility of internationalising the model in other countries has not been ruled out; Colombia's Minister of Trade, Industry and Tourism, for example, has turned his attention to promoting the growth of initiatives linked to high technology in 3D printing.
For Joan Parra, executive vice-president of Leitat, the key to the success of this first year of activity has been “finding a need in the sector and being able to offer this emerging talent, through the 3D Incubator, the support needed to boost your business, not only through access to spaces and professional advice, but also through access to the latest technology in 3D printing and post-processing on the market”.
More than 500 services
During these first twelve months of activity, the 3D Incubator has encouraged the business take-off of incubated initiatives through the provision of more than 500 3D and post-processing production services, business consulting, training, parts certification and marketing activities. The 3D Incubator has one of the most comprehensive high-tech 3D printing laboratories in Europe with six different 3D printing technologies, both industrial and small-format, with a total of eight units. The laboratory also has various design and post-processing equipment: a sandblaster, a polisher and machines for metrology and quality control of parts.
Recently, the production laboratory for incubated projects has been expanded with the acquisition of a new stereolithography printer, or DLP, which allows printing with biocompatible materials and those with CE certification. It is also expected that, in a few months, a second processing station from HP will be incorporated, which will work with a new flexible polyurethane material, TPU, as well as a dyeing machine, a graffiti machine and an airblasting parts cleaning system, which will complete the equipment of the post-processing area.
Throughout 2019, the incubator hosted more than 30 sessions on topics related to the various stages of the 3D printing value chain, as well as networking sessions, training, business development and financing for start-ups. Similarly, the incubator participated in several seminars and conferences aimed at giving visibility to the initiative and the various incubated projects, such as the 4YFN and INDUSTRY From Needs to Solutions conferences.
Pere Navarro, Special State Delegate from the Consorci de la Zona Franca de Barcelona, explained that "the forecast was that, in the first year, 20 companies would be installed and the reality is that we already have more than 30. This is a five-year project, but it has a second derivative which is the Dfactory 4.0, an industrial project that we are already building on the industrial estate; by June 2020 it will be a reality”. Navarro added that the DFactory 4.0 "will be a 21st century factory, where there will be 3D printing, robotics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and blockchain; that is to say it will welcome the new economy via companies that have already shown interest in occupying these spaces, with the ambition of making Barcelona the European capital of Economy and Industry 4.0”.