Eurecat Technology Center has recently demonstrated a groundbreaking new 3D printer, with the potential to change how manufacturing plants will operate in the future. Combining 3D printing technology with one of the other most impressive technological phenomena of our generation, virtual reality, Eurecat’s new 3D printer incorporates a virtual reality representation of the 3D printing job, so it can be monitored in real-time.
Based in Catalonia, Spain, Eurecat Technology Center has been at the forefront of 3D printing developments for over 20 years now. It held the first conference about 3D printing technology, which was then referred to simply as rapid prototyping. It’s one of the few technology centers in Spain to have patented 3D technology, and was the first in the country to introduce 3D printing of metal. The company has also made efforts to export its expertise internationally, to countries such as China, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Mexico. This latest breakthrough was demonstrated at the annual Advanced Factories fair, taking place this year in Barcelona.
The new 3D printer unveiled by Eurecat has a screen that allows the print job to be observed in a virtual reality environment. This will be particularly useful for factories and production plants that are manufacturing with 3D printing on a large scale. At any time during the printing process the 3D object can be monitored, and any necessary checkups or interventions can be performed. Information relating to object geometry or materials behaviour will be accessible at-a-glance.
This latest innovation is another part of what has been referred to as the Industry 4.0. The next generation of manufacturing plants will incorporate such forward-thinking technologies as 3D printing and virtual or augmented reality in all areas. They can be used to implement new manufacturing strategies and design ideas as well as to monitor pre-established processes. Hospitals and schools are already making use of 3D printing technology to help them provide better service, and more advanced industries such as aerospace can also take advantage of what 3D printing has to offer.
Xavier Plantà, director of the Eurecat Industrial Technologies Area, says that 3D printing has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for manufacturing in all sectors. According to him, ''It's a new way of manufacturing with its own personality and now the industry is investing heavily in end-to-end application technologies that adapt to the demands and requirements of production". He believes that 3D printing will be in use in factories in less than 5 years.