The Dutch Are 3D Printing Everything
How The Netherlands Is Changing The Way We Think About 3D Printing
Hailed by TechCrunch as “the third industrial revolution,” 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, is becoming an important disruptive technology.
With strong roots in innovation, the Dutch are advancing the applications of 3D printing in key industries like logistics, agrifood and the life sciences. This leadership is changing the way businesses and consumers think about 3D printing, spreading fresh ideas across the globe.
Here are a few of the top ways Holland is spearheading the 3D printing frontier.
Setting the Table for 3D-Printed Food
As the world’s second largest agrifood exporter, the Netherlands is a natural location for putting agrifood technology into practice. With historic roots in the inventions of stroopwafels and doughnuts, Holland is now a modern pioneer of 3D-printed food.
Beginning in 2015, Dutch research organization TNO and multinational Barilla began developing a prototype of the world’s first 3D pasta printer. Led by engineers, scientists and food experts, the collaboration seeks to eventually streamline commercial production of pasta in unique shapes and flavors.
Dutch 3D printing startup byFlow and Belgian chocolatier Callebaut have also started a similar collaboration, this time in chocolate. Working at High Tech Campus Eindhoven, byFlow’s state-of-the-art cocoa printer now helps Callebaut improve their product design and manufacturing processes.
The Dutch have even found ways to integrate social enterprise into this tasty technology. For example, Isala Hospital in Zwolle is currently utilizing additive manufacturing to offer nutrient-packed meals that are easy to swallow. The hospital believes these advances will help aid malnourished patients to speedy recoveries.
The Dutch Build 3D-Printed Homes
Thanks to the Netherlands, consumers can now dream of owning a 3D-printed home. Dutch researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology are currently building the first 3D-printed house in Europe. Developed with Dutch company Rohaco, the milestone home will be created from the largest 3D concrete printer in the Netherlands.
In another feat of innovation, Dutch designers from DUS Architects recently built a 3D-printed micro home in Amsterdam. Called the “Urban Cabin,” this tiny home spans only 25 cubic meters and is now available for rent. Made of recycled bioplastic, the home might also be a futuristic solution for urban housing issues and temporary disaster relief.
Leading the Life Sciences
Research teams at UMC Utrecht are developing 3D printing technologies to restore bone and cartilage commonly damaged by injuries, trauma and aging. These durable, long-term medical solutions could soon redefine traditional practices. It isn’t the first time the team has made major advances either. In 2014, Dutch neurosurgeons led by the hospital successfully completed the world’s first 3D-printed skull implant, saving a patient’s life.
Thanks to additional Dutch resources, like the Netherlands Institute of Regenerative Medicine and the Hubrecht Institute, the future of 3D printing is looking orange.
Logistics Receives A 3D Printing Makeover
Ranked fourth worldwide for logistics, the Netherlands is using 3D printing to push the boundaries of international trade and supply chains.
Last year, the Port of Rotterdam welcomed RAMLAB, a company building the maritime industry’s first 3D printing field lab. Located at RDM Rotterdam’s Innovation Dock, RAMLAB utilizes robots to build infrastructure like ship propellers. While still in initial development, the company hopes to one day offer the port on demand 3D printing services.
Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn is also utilizing 3D printing. Recently, the company commissioned an intricate 3D-printed scale model of their warehouse in order to test new automation technologies. Thanks to the model, the retailer was able to see how new innovations would impact their operations and bottom line.
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