3DP-RDM: Defining the research agenda for 3D printing enabled re-distributed manufacturing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Engineering

Abstract

Manufacturing value chains have changed substantially in the last ten years. It is anticipated that the adoption of 3D printing (3DP) will bring dramatic transformations as companies simplify their supply chains and adopt novel business models. The importance of 3DP to the UK economy has been acknowledged with the TSB defining it as one of the UK's 22 priority process technologies, and the Government Office for Science expecting 3DP to have "a profound impact on the way manufacturers make almost any product". As the latter report commented, additive manufacturing "will become an essential 'tool' allowing designs to be optimised to reduce waste; products to be made as light as possible; inventories of spare parts to be reduced; greater flexibility in the location of manufacturing; products to be personalised to consumers; consumers to make some of their own products; and products to be made with new graded composition and bespoke properties". The report recommended that greater efforts should be made to understand key technologies such as 3DP in order to guide policy, a recommendation that this proposal seeks to address.

The 3DP-RDM network is a response to this call for greater understanding. The organisation of the network is based around the core idea of using a 'network of networks' to efficiently bring together the relevant academic, industry and policy experts to jointly define a series of feasibility studies, the outputs of which will define the research agenda for 3DP enabled re-distributed manufacturing. These 'network or networks' provide a unique platform on which to deliver a programme of targeted feasibility studies. The following five themes have been identified by researchers on the EPSRC/ESRC-funded 'Bit by Bit' project (EP/K039598/1) as needing to be explored in greater depth:

1. The economics of 3D printing, including assessment of the cost advantages;
2. The protection of intellectual property and competitive advantage, including the protection of copyrights;
3. Manufacturing issues such as the quality of materials and recyclability;
4. Education issues and the presence of the necessary skills in the labour market;
5. Manufacturing standardisation.

The initial network that has been assembled possesses expertise from across these five research themes. In addition to the research themes, industry consultations have highlighted numerous sectors and application areas where these issues could be readily examined. From this broader list, five potential application areas for case studies have been identified: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food, retail, and repairs and spares. While these themes and sectors/application areas provide us with a structure to design our potential feasibility studies, the actual final choice of studies will emerge from a research competition process involving scoping workshops and short proposals for feasibility studies.

The outputs of the feasibility studies will provide insight into sector-specific features of 3DP technologies that help enable re-distributed manufacturing, and the barriers preventing their wider diffusion. They will begin to answer the research objectives of this network.

1. The features of 3DP technologies that help enable re-distributed manufacturing;
2. How re-distributed manufacturing may accelerate the diffusion of 3DP technologies and vice-versa;
3. Sector specific and generic aspects of 3DP enabled re-distributed manufacturing.

In combination, these studies will enable the identification of the interconnections between 3DP and re-distributed manufacturing, and the research capabilities required to address the research gaps that this analysis identifies. The consolidated knowledge from these studies and the on-going access to defined academic-industry-policy communities of interest will provide a key input to the Research Councils, established a clear research agenda and assisting them with the allocation of future funding.

Planned Impact

3D printing (3DP) includes a broad range of technologies which offer the prospect for on-demand, mass personalisation, localised, flexible and sustainable production. The envisioned societal and economic benefits for such transformative manufacturing technologies are numerous. They include the localisation of production, more personalised products and services, and the reshoring of manufacturing.

The 3DP-RDM network will draw together existing networks from academia, industry and policy, creating a wider base of participation and enabling the 3DP-RDM network to deliver informed direction and guidance for future research. These networks include the existing industry networks of the core team, IfM and the EPSRC Centre for Innovation Manufacturing in Additive Manufacturing, as well as those of the network partners. Of these network partners, the Bit by Bit Advisory Network, CSaP and MTC have extensive reach to academia, policy and industry respectively.

The 3DP-RDM network approach will ensure that multiple perspectives are brought to bear on the issues identified, that the feasibility studies conducted are industrially-engaged, and that the results of these feasibility studies are incorporated into future decision-making.

Identifying opportunities for UK economic growth
Current understanding of 3DP is relatively well advanced in terms of knowing how the technology can be used to improve product performance or reduce weight, as well as when low volume manufacturing becomes economically viable. Where there is less knowledge and greater uncertainty is in the social, economic, legal and educational implications of the technology's application.

Through attending the network events and hearing the perspectives of other attendees, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges in each of the issues identified and the barriers that need to be overcome if a future vision of 3D printing enabled re-distributed manufacturing is to be achieved. The outputs of the project will provide a wider dissemination route to industry, policy makers and academia, highlighting the obstacles that need to be overcome, defining what needs to be done to help realise the opportunities for the reorganisation of manufacturing activity, and identifying possible routes for the future exploitation of 3DP. This guidance will support the strategic planning of policy makers, enabling more informed choices and progress to be made more quickly and effectively.

The 3DP-RDM network will lead to a more coordinated national activity, helping to make research more efficient, ultimately enabling better innovation and new business opportunities. The knowledge generated by the network into the barriers and opportunities for 3DP will help to de-risk the landscape for investment, with companies and investors being better informed when allocating their resources, and placing the UK economy at the forefront of manufacturing's localisation and personalisation transformation.

Informing national research and industrial policy
The insights from the scoping workshops and feasibility studies will establish a baseline for research activity into the interactions between 3DP and re-distributed manufacturing, with the outputs of the feasibility studies giving clear directions for the research topics that need to be investigated in greater depth by the EPSRC and ESRC.

As an emerging technology, research and industrial activity into 3DP is currently highly fragmented. Creating this network will bring together a wide variety of stakeholders, with the results of the scoping workshops helping to not only support the research councils but also inform BIS as it begins to formulate its National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing in the UK. The results of the feasibility studies will be able to be fed directly into this national strategy, with any knowledge gaps identified enabling the UK to develop a concerted R&D program for the future.
 
Description During this project, eight feasibility studies have been completed, exploring different issues that affect the way in which 3D printing may change the way in which firms locate their manufacturing activities. These four studies were:
1. 3DP-RDM: A total cost model University of Nottingham
2. OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks University of Cambridge
3. Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM Brunel University
4. Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing University of Oxford
5. Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing University of Sussex
6. 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing University of Nottingham
7. Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Cardiff University
8. Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Cass/City of London & Warwick

Slides summarising the results of these studies can be accessed via https://capturingthevalue.wordpress.com along with project reports.
Exploitation Route The results of these feasibility studies provide useful structure for future directions of research relating to how the diffusion of 3D printing / additive manufacturing technologies might impact decisions on where to locate manufacturing activities. The eight published studies provide the foundations for further funding bids that several of the PIs intend to take forward to the ESRC/EPSRC. The network established as a result of the two rounds of feasibility studies provides the basis for further collaborative work in this important and timely area of manufacturing location decisions and the adoption of emerging production technologies.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology,Transport

URL https://capturingthevalue.wordpress.com
 
Description The results of our eight feasibility studies have been presented at two workshops for companies and universities (details and slides at https://capturingthevalue.wordpress.com). These workshops also provided an opportunity to help potential applicants design their proposals for future feasibility studies and for the preparation of bids for further funding identified through the feasibility study process. We have been active in using social media to support the dissemination of our results, and all events and publications (where permitted) have been shared through our social media activities.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Economic

 
Description IET Innovation and Emerging Technologies Policy Panel
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL http://www.theiet.org/policy/panels/innovation/
 
Description Membership of Steering Group for development of the UK National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact We have been working in partnership with InnovateUK, BIS, HVM Catapult and a range of industrial partners to ensure UK firms are able to capture value from the opportunities presented by the emergence of 3D printing / additive manufacturing, and that barriers (such as knowledge of these technologies, skills required, availability of finance for trialling the technologies, etc) are understood and addressed.
URL http://www.amnationalstrategy.uk/
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation Brunel University London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation Cardiff University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation City, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation University of Nottingham
Department School of Health Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation University of Oxford
Department The James Martin Stem Cell Facility
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation University of Sussex
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description 3DP-RDM network 
Organisation University of Warwick
Department Warwick Business School
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We ran this network which had the aim of running a competition for funding feasibility studies on topics related to the impact of 3D printing on the re-distribution of manufacturing. Our role was to coordinate the network, and to design and implement an open competition for funding, then to make and monitor awards assigned to groups within the network.
Collaborator Contribution Each partner whose proposal was successful received funding for a 6-9 month project, the results of which were submitted in the form of a project report, as well as conference, working and journal papers.
Impact 8 feasibility studies were funded. Project reports are listed under 'Publications'. Titles are: Investigating the Impact of CAD Data Transfer Standards for 3DP-RDM OPTIMOS PRIME: Organising Production Technology Into MOst Responsive States - 3D PRInt Machine Enabled Networks The enabling role of 3DP in redistributed manufacturing: A total cost model Redistributing Material Supply Chains for 3D printing Mass customisation governance: regulation, liability, and IP of redistributed manufacturing in 3D printing 3D Printing Production Planning (3DPPP): reactive manufacturing execution driving re-distributed manufacturing Supporting SMEs in creating value through 3DP-RPM Driving Innovation in Redistributed Manufacturing: A Comparative Study in the British and Italian Motorsport Valleys
Start Year 2015
 
Description New Economic Models in the Digital Economy (NEMODE) 
Organisation University of Exeter
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We are active members of this network which brings together research teams funded through the RCUK New Economic Models in the Digital Economy call.
Collaborator Contribution NEMODE provides a platform for connecting diverse research groups working on a broad range of research themes related to digital technologies.
Impact Broadening our project's engagement with a wide range of social science and computer science research groups working on Digital Economy topics.
Start Year 2013
 
Description 3DP-RDM workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Workshops were run with representatives from academia and industry to (a) scope and design possible feasibility studies, and form potential collaborations for the delivery of these studies and (b) disseminate the results of these studies. Each workshop attracted 40-50 participants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL https://capturingthevalue.wordpress.com/2015/11/27/3dp-rdm-dissemination-and-scoping-workshops/
 
Description Bit by Bit LinkedIn 3D Printing Interest Group 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our LinkedIn group has proved particularly effective in allowing us to maintain an on-going with a broad range of stakeholders within the business community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016
URL https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6618386
 
Description Capturing the Value blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The 'Capturing the Value' blog acts as a channel for us to disseminate updates on all aspects of our research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016
URL https://capturingthevalue.wordpress.com/
 
Description DFab twitter feed 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Our twitter account allows to provide short updates on our research progress and outputs to a wide audience, and to engage with the fast evolving 3D printing community.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016
URL https://twitter.com/dfab_info
 
Description Development of UK National Strategy for AM - steering group, workshops, on-line survey, thematic working groups 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Working in collaboration with InnovateUK, BIS, Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC), KTN, and industry and academic partners, we have been helping to develop a UK National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing. This has included:
1. Running a series of multi-stakeholder workshops to identify the perceived barriers and opportunities for additive manufacturing in the UK. These events were attended by over 160 people representing 143 organisations.
2. Running an open Call for Evidence to draw in more detailed information and data on the barriers and opportunities for additive manufacturing in the UK.
3. Analysing the large volume of data generated from the workshops and call for evidence, and drawing out key themes that then provided the structure for the formation of a series of industry-led thematic working groups.
4. Supporting the production of a strategy document to be published under the InnovateUK banner to help ensure that UK firms are able to benefit from the potential provided by additive manufacturing.
Details of all the activities undertaken as well as the raw data generated have been made accessible via http://www.amnationalstrategy.uk/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015,2016
URL http://www.amnationalstrategy.uk/
 
Description Interviews for BBC Radio 5 Live broadcasts / Naked Scientist podcasts for programmes on 3D printing 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Numerous follow-ups from people who heard the show and wanted to learn more about our research on the potential impact of 3D printing.

Numerous follow-ups from people who heard the show and wanted to learn more about our research on the potential impact of 3D printing
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2016
URL http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/interviews/interview/1001666/
 
Description Presentations at industry events 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact From the start of our 3D printing projects, we have received invitations to present our research plans and interim findings at industry conferences, workshops and seminars. Examples of such include:

9th Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Conference (2014)
IET Innovative Manufacturing Conference (2014)
Food and Drink Innovation Network (2015)
Shell Innovation Roundtable (2015)
Digital Technologies for Manufacturing Innovation: Embracing Industry 4.0 (2015)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
URL https://capturingthevalue.wordpress.com/
 
Description Talks at local schools / science festivals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We have been delivering 4-6 talks per year in regional schools and at the Cambridge Science Festival, using 3D printing as a theme for raising awareness of STEM - both as subjects to study and potential career. We deliver these talks as part of school assemblies (typically 30-100 pupils per event) or as talks at our Science Festival (typically 100 attendees per talk (delivered twice)). Almost every talk has led to request for further engagement, or to deliver similar events to different audiences.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk/events/manufacturing-your-future-how-engineers-make-life-better