In the next months, few important issues should be finalized by the European Commission: product liability, intellectual property rights, and US-EU trade deal. CECIMO is actively monitoring these dossiers in order to cushion the impact on additive manufacturing. Despite these sensitive issues, the AM sector is moving faster towards the development of harmonized standards and we see many actions to fill in the skills gap in Europe.
Before the end of the year, additive manufacturing will be at the centre stage at the European level. The European Commission should soon publish a new study and guidelines on intellectual property right and product liability, to relaunch the debate on some significant aspects such as quality standards and the difference between Business to Business and Business to Consumer. CECIMO will address policymakers to avoid burdening the sector with unnecessary regulation.
In the past months, the European Commission opened a public consultation on the Machinery Directive. The consultation was important for the AM industry as it gave us the opportunity to voice the need for harmonized standards. In particular, CECIMO called for the development of type-c standard for AM, as it facilitates the compliance of AM machines with the safety requirements of the directive.
Another priority for the EU policymakers should be a harmonized qualification and training system. The AM community has been suffering from a shortage of trained workers and it has been asking the European legislators not to overlook this problem. The next European research and innovation programme (Horizon Europe) should include specific solutions and the National Operational Programmes could better promote it. A good example of European cooperation on skills is the EU funded project SAM. SAM aims to assess and anticipate skills gaps and shortages in AM, as well as develop a harmonized training system for the European AM sector.
At international level, the US-EU trade agreement on industrial goods listed AM as an area of priority. It grants to the sector prestige, but, at the same time, it puts pressure on the counterparts to avoid the application of tariffs, or conformity assessment procedures. Talks are still ongoing, and a deal should be finalized by the end of the year.
Mr Stewart Lane, Chairman of CECIMO Additive Manufacturing Committee, remarked that “the debate on the AM sector is still very active and the EU policymakers need to layout a supportive and flexible set of rules if they wish to keep the leadership of the AM sector in Europe”.
The industry is ready to be under the “legislative” spotlight and it continues to move forward in production and innovation. Today at EMO, the AM sector has gathered to discuss the growth of the industry and to show that production has gone beyond business as usual. The positive development of the level of productivity has pushed companies to look for new solutions to increase efficiency, quality and precision of their processes. Mr Harrison Raybould from the Manufacturing Technology Centre confirmed this trend: “the rapid productivity increase in Additive Manufacturing is driving the need for integrated design decision support solutions capable of guiding design engineers to improve the number of ‘right at the first time’ design”.
On a conclusive note, the AM industry has high expectation in the new European Parliament (EP) which has been always open to discuss the issues affecting the sector. To continue a positive and constructive dialogue with the Members of the European Parliament, CECIMO is organizing at the EP the 5th edition of the Additive Manufacturing European Conference (AMEC) next December 4.