How well does additive manufacturing fit in with Leipzig? According to various companies, very well. They have joined forces to promote the region as manufacturing destination. We asked them what makes Leipzig so attractive to new companies in the industry.
Determining a location is critical when establishing a company. Many infrastructure matters are involved, but networking opportunities in the region are also relevant, and for start-ups the question of financing the necessary office and production space is particularly important. Leipzig's reputation as one of the business hotspots in Germany is nothing new. However, there are current initiatives to make the business hub of Leipzig even more attractive to companies.
The perfect Location for additive manufacturing
Several companies have joined forces and are convinced that the region in Central Germany is the perfect location for additive manufacturing companies - particularly for younger ventures. Dr Carsten Krautz, member of the extended Executive Board of Building 3D e.V., the additive network for medium-sized enterprises from Central Germany explains: "Leipzig boasts a long history of trade and industry. In contrast to other major cities, Leipzig also offers suitable industrial real estate, i.e. the space required to establish new companies. We aim to establish a transparent factory for 3D printing, the location of which we shall decide upon in the coming year. We are also looking forward to welcoming new tenants, who particularly value quick communication and mutual support in addition to strong academic contacts." Two buildings have since been short-listed, one of which will be chosen.
Fruitful cooperation for companies
A number of companies that either work in the same building or close to each other have already demonstrated how this can add value in practice. 3D-Metall Theobald e.K., a company specialized in printing small components from steel and bronze, primarily manufactures prototypes for medical technology. "Leipzig is the city of quick communication, which is great for us. We have already benefited from mutual support with the companies located in the area as the machinery is an excellent advantage for the various companies. Above all, we believe that the more additive manufacturing companies are based here, the larger the awareness for our company will be. This will, in turn, benefit all of the companies located here", explains the owner, Hans-Werner Theobald.
Powerful network to benefit customers
This has also been confirmed by Tobias Matuschek, Head of Marketing at Dick + Dick, the plastic printing service provider: "We manufacture prototypes in series of up to 50,000 pieces. We are happy to hand off any requests that we are unable to handle to our colleagues in Leipzig, this works both ways. The close network of local companies from the additive manufacturing industry has led to the establishment of a powerful network to benefit customers." Rapidobject GmbH is another company represented in the network, which existed long before the hype for additive manufacturing started in recent years and has marketed additive manufactured components since 2006 through its online shop. Since then, the company has gained a large customer base from a range of sectors and uses a range of additive technologies to manufacture prototypes, also in series production. 22 companies are jointly organized in the Building 3D association at present.
The transparent factory
As such, the foundations have been laid for an extensive 3D printing community. "It's now clear that a number of additive manufacturing companies will be included in the Leipzig Building 3D association and the more that join, the more likely we are to achieve the establishment of a transparent factory that will enable customers to directly see what can be achieved with additive manufacturing. For instance, that additive manufacturing is more than just prototype manufacturing, as series production also takes place in the same building", Dr Carsten Krautz adds. This should help to gain the trust of potential customers and, according to Krautz, also offer small companies and start-ups the opportunity to compete on the market in cooperation with big industry players. Even if not all the manufacturing technologies are represented, it remains the association's goal to include the entire additive manufacturing process chain. The "Agent 3D" network, a consortium coordinated by the Fraunhofer IWS in Dresden, has been a member of the association for just over a month. This cooperation facilitates access to research institutes and their equipment, which is rarely possible in Europe. Interested parties can directly contact the association at any time, even if they are not based in Leipzig, or they can also contact Invest Region Leipzig GmbH, the official business development agency for the Leipzig region, which can establish contact.
A guest post by Gerhard Maier (published in the AddMag 3/2020, p. 54ff)