Technological paradigms and business model of modern manufacturing companies are facing a profound process of transformation: data-driven systems and Industry 4.0, exponential technologies (e.g. artificial intelligence or quantum computing), autonomous robotics and co-robots, digital twins and advanced simulations, new materials, servitization, hyper-agile production platforms, and so on.
Given this scenario, the aim of the lab is re-image the “future manufacturing” and support the transition towards innovative technological-based manufacturing solutions, via a multidisciplinary approach and by adopting a “deep tech” standpoint.
Here we define “deep tech” as a cutting-edge technology inherently coupled with a specific market need, towards the final goal of a relevant societal impact, such as the design and production of innovative energy storage systems, the development of innovative hyper-realistic training systems for clinicians and surgeons, the production of high-performance components for sport competitions or architectural-cultural heritage.).
We address the “manufacturing transformation” along three key dimensions:
- New materials (e.g. materials for energy storage, smart & programmable materials, high-performance, biocompatible and implantable solutions)
- Breakthrough technologies (es. additive manufacturing)
- Digital transformation and data-driven manufacturing (e.g. simulations, digital twin, augmented reality / VR, etc.).
Particular attention is on manufacturing technologies – mostly known as 3D printing – as a key enabler for the above mentioned dynamics. Additive manufacturing can produce extremely complex geometries, impossible to produce with any other standard manufacturing technology, even combining multiple materials.
This crucial feature paves the way to a number of specific applications: examples are the integration of sensing elements into components, the development of smart products, the redesign of devices to merge multiple components in a single-print object, with a dramatic decrease of production times, robustness, efficiency, and many other advantages.
Unlikely, the implementation of the above-mentioned technologies requires strong technological competencies with a high degree of specialization, which are often missing in the industrial context, especially for what concerns manufacturing solutions, combined with the exploitation of innovative materials and advanced computational tools.
Many innovative approaches are already available at a research level, but they are not mature enough to reach the industrial implementation mainly due to a lack of understanding from the technological, economic, and social perspectives.