Digital Innovation Hubs


DIH Profile

Sirris Hub - Additive Manufacturing Integrated Factory

Hub Information

Hub Name
Sirris Hub - Additive Manufacturing Integrated Factory
Local Name
Sirris Hub - Additive Manufacturing Integrated Factory
Evolutionary Stage
In preparation
Geographical Scope


Additive manufacturing (AM) – or commonly referred to as 3D printing – of metallic mechanical components has become a reality. No longer is 3D printing restricted to the domain of plastics and prototyping. Production of fully functional mechanical components is state-of-the-art. However, additive technology does not yet reach the level of precision (dimensional accuracy, surface finish, etc.) required of such components. Post processing steps, like precision milling operations, are necessary but offer great challenges since printed components often have irregular free-form shapes and thus are not easy to set references, clamp, automate, handle, etc. The DIH addresses the need of the local industry for practical and advanced knowledge on how to integrate the state-of-the-art additive manufacturing, post machining technology, quality control and flexible automation. The DIH is based on the continuous development and exploration of an application lab. The lab will become fully operational in November 2017 and will contain a 3D metal powder bed printer, a five axis precision milling machine, 2 coordinate measuring machines, a femto second laser texturing machine and smart automation solutions. The services of the DIH are: • Industrial feasibility studies • Research projects for industry • Sensibilisation and inspiration for new technologies • Training, Master Classes • Making the bridge between new technologies and industry

Laagopbouwende productietechnologie – ook wel 3D printen genoemd – van mechanische metaalproducten is vandaag de dag realiteit. 3D printen beperkt zich niet langer tot kunststoffen en prototyping. De productie van functionele mechanische componenten ligt binnen mogelijkheden van de huidige technologie. Echter, de kwaliteit (dimensionele nauwkeurigheid, oppervlaktekwaliteit, ...) van geprinte componenten voldoet nog niet waardoor nabewerking, door bijvoorbeeld precisiefrezen, noodzakelijk is. De complexe vormen van opgebouwde componenten maakt deze nabewerking echter een hele uitdaging op gebied van referentiepunten, opspannen, automatisering, inklemming, ... Het initiatief beantwoordt de nood voor de lokale industrie op het vlak van praktische en geavanceerde kennis betreffende het integreren van state-of-the-art additieve technologie, nabewerkingstechnologie, kwaliteitscontrole en flexibele automatisering. Het initiatief is gebaseerd op de continue ontwikkeling en exploratie van een applicatielab. Het applicatielab zal volledig operationeel worden in november 2017 en zal dan bevatten: een 3D metaalprinter, een vijfassige precisiefreesmachine, twee coördinaten meetmachines, een femto seconde lasertextureermachine en intelligente automatiseringsoplossingen. De dienstverleningen van het initiatief zijn: • Industriële haalbaarheidsstudies • Onderzoeksprojecten voor de industrie • Sensibilisatie en inspiratie voor nieuwe technologieën • Training, Master classes, • De brug maken tussen nieuwe technologieën en de industrie

Contact Data

Coordinator (Research & Technology organization)
Sirris, The collective Centre for and by the technological industry in Belgium
Year Established
Wetenschapspark 9, 3590, Diepenbeek (Belgium)
Social Media
Contact information
Peter ten Haaf
+32 498 91 93 54


Organizational form
(Part of) Private organization
Number of employees


  • Sensory systems
  • Photonics and imaging technologies
  • Robotics
  • Interaction technologies
  • Virtual, augmented and extended reality
  • Simulation, modelling and digital twins
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Laser based manufacturing

The activities of the hub are well aligned with the Belgian national initiative for digitising industry, MADE DIFFERENT – Factories of the future.

Market and Services


  • Manufacture of basic metals and fabricated metal products
  • Manufacture of machinery and equipment
  • Manufacture of electrical and optical equipment
  • Manufacture of transport equipment

TRL Focus

  • TRL5 - Component and/or breadboard validation in relevant environment
  • TRL6 - System/subsystem model or prototype demonstration in a relevant environment
  • TRL7 - System prototype demonstration in an operational environment
  • TRL8 - Actual system completed and qualified through test and demonstration
  • TRL9 - Actual system proven through successful mission operations

Services provided

  • Awareness creation
  • Collaborative Research
  • Concept validation and prototyping
  • Testing and validation
  • Pre-competitive series production
  • Incubator/accelerator support
  • Education and skills development

Service Examples

Both on industrial and academic side efforts are being made in building the eco system for the AM Integrated Factory. Several workshops have been organized to look for opportunities cross industry. Companies like Atlas Copco, Engie, ACSO have shown great interest in joining forces exploring the potential of an AM integrated factory.
On academic side the eco system building efforts have already led to concrete projects. Together with SYNTRA Limburg an initiative will be launched to bring 3D metal printing to the SME shop floor. With international partners (Germany and Austria) Sirris is examining the Total Cost of Ownership of an AM integrated production chain.

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a feasible alternative for the manufacturing sector. Now that the initial hype is behind us, it is clear that AM has great potential for high quality production. But how do you get started? Successful applications start with designs made for the technology. During a three day masterclass participants from industry will acquire knowledge and understanding of how to design components specifically for AM so that they too can fully profit from the advantages offered by this technology.

The participants will go through the entire design process, go into detail with more than ten different AM technologies, including all the advantages and disadvantages and take a look at the broader framework into which AM fits and explain a series of practical design rules, design tools and other handy tips.

During the masterclass there will also be work done on case studies that have been brought along by the participants from their own company or working situations.

ASCO, with its headquarters in Brussels and production sites in Belgium, Germany and the United States, is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of lift mechanisms and complex, high-precision mechanical assemblies and components for the aerospace industry.  What implications is 3D printing likely to have for the aerospace industry? That was the question their R&D team wanted to fully investigate. During the pilot project, the team focused on a gooseneck bracket, a part of an airplane wing that looks like the neck of a goose. This static bracket is surrounded by other, moving components of the Krueger flap, an adjustable flap on the front of the wing that adjusts the airflow and so raises or reduces the level of lift. ASCO called in Sirris to examine how the gooseneck bracket could be manufactured and refined using 3D printing.

Adhering to strict design guidelines various 3D blueprints for the new gooseneck bracket were developed. After a selection process, the final design was prepared for production via a process called selective laser melting, in which a laser melts layers of metal powder into a single unit. The geometry of this new design was then thoroughly examined to check whether it affected the post-processing of the component.

The enhanced gooseneck bracket not only brings together various beneficial features but is also 30% lighter: a significant difference in a sector where every kilogram less in weight results in savings of €500 to €1,000. Throughout the process, ASCO also assessed the maturity of 3D printing and learned to more effectively tailor its blueprints accordingly, starting with the initial design phase. Moreover, the company can now also form an objective picture of the possibilities provided by additive manufacturing throughout its production chain - and indeed the next step for ASCO in its work with Sirris over the months to come will be to look at precisely this issue.


  • National specific innovation funding
  • Regional funding


Number of customers annually
Type of customers
  • Start-up companies
  • SMEs (<250 employees)
  • MidCaps (between €2-10 billion turnover)
  • Partners

    Last updated: 01/09/18 15:32