Since April 2016, project SoFIA (Solutions for Additive Manufacturing) has supported the formation of AddUp. Made up of 7 businesses and 9 research laboratories, this French applied research program in the field metal additive manufacturing has grown over 6 years with the support of 50 million euros in funding from BPI France (Public Investment Bank).
SoFIA aims to develop technological building blocks to enable the competitive and robust manufacture of parts. The consortium’s work is focused around 4 axes:
- Developing a range of metal powders.
- Improving the productivity of 3D metal printers by optimizing the link between materials and processes, as well as by developing new energy sources.
- Optimizing digital channel software to design and manufacture parts with a view to improving technical and economic performance.
- Improving understanding of HSE risks of metal additive manufacturing with the aim of establishing a framework of standards.
SoFIA is focused on the lag between performance and industrialization of metal additive manufacturing processes so that we can improve our machines’ performance and make them more productive, of better quality and more robust than our competitors’ machines. This is a transversal project working across a number of AddUp entities and processes, including product marketing. The SoFIA project enables us to talk about our future products to all academic and industry consortium partners. This collaboration also enables AddUp to incorporate innovative research that shakes up our machines, processes, and software. The work carried out as part of this project means we regularly deliver publications and submit patents. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, AddUp submitted 6 patents for SoFIA. In addition, 13 communications and publications were submitted to scientific journals.
Finally, the thirty or so research projects completed by doctoral students, post-doctoral students and research engineers will lead to the writing of around the same number of dissertations. Steering and working meetings are held throughout the year (strategic committees, technical committees, technical workshops, planning reviews and working meetings on specific subject areas). However, those involved in the project had at no time all met together. Consequently, between 1 and 3 April, on the 3 year anniversary of the consortium, a SoFIA seminar brought together fifty people at Domaine de la Prade, near AddUp’s head office, so that everyone involved in the project could meet and present their various ventures.
As a starting point, the seminar resulted in academic partners asking to gain a better understanding of the project’s manufacturing challenges. Some academics would, in fact, like to remain in touch with manufacturers in order to absorb and incorporate their professional standards and be better placed to understand their needs. The seminar has also enabled manufacturers to more fully grasp what academics do, and their future impact. Participants enormously enjoyed the event and it helped strengthen the ties between various partners. It perfectly illustrates the power of a collaborative project of this kind, which unites the scientific and technical expertise of the academic world and our manufacturing ambitions.
Would you like to find out more about this project?
The SoFIA website can be found here: https://www.sofia-3d.fr/
Or feel free to contact us.