Published on March 24th, 2017 | by Geetika Bhasin
+Lab won the award in the JEC Innovation Awards 2017 in Paris
Europe’s largest composites industry organization, the JEC Group, recently gave out 13 JEC Innovation Awards at JEC World 2017 in Paris. Companies with the unique composite-related innovations received these awards. +LAB, the additive manufacturing lab at Politecnico di Milano University in Italy, won the “Smart manufacturing of continuous-fiber composites” project awards in the 3D printing category.
Consisting of an innovative robotic arm which is capable of consistently 3D printing composite materials, the winning 3D project was called Atropos. The robotic arm technology is inspired by silkworms. This arm moves fluidly, continuously extruding a fiber of thermosetting composite material, curing it simultaneously. This six-axis machine was launched by +LAB in partnership with KUKA Robotics, and Owens Coming.
The benefits of 3D printing composite materials are many, as they carry the potential to make resilient yet lightweight parts, ideal for manufacturing industries. The criteria for giving out the awards were factors including innovation, quality, diversity, market potential, financial and environmental impact. According to JEC Group, this year’s submissions showcased immense potential of innovative breakthroughs.
Apart from 3D printing, Japan’s IHI Corporation won in the category of Aeronautics; South Korean LG Hausys won in the category of Automotive, Exterior and Germany’s Forward Engineering GmbH won Automotive, Structural. ACCIONA Construcción SA won in the field of construction for its composite panels which could replace steel and concrete for construction.
Frédérique Mute, President and CEO of JEC Group, said that the manufacturing processes are growing at manifold rates which are expected to trigger greater use of composites. Hence a change of scale is required in the composite industry, especially in sectors like the automotive sector, where there is a high rate of mergers and acquisitions, with the integration of automotive suppliers and the raw materials producers.