A giant step for mankind…

August 26, 2014

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy expressed a wish to land a man on the moon (and bring him back safely) by the end of the decade. Many people thought this was impossible. But there were also people who did believe in the dream. Researchers, pilots and technicians committed themselves fully to the Apollo mission and, on 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon.

Doesn't every innovation start with an absurd idea? Real innovators are not satisfied with what is already there, but continue to ask if it can't be done better, faster, cheaper or more sustainably? And they take the world a step further. Human organs that come out of a printer seems just as absurd an idea as that of Kennedy in the sixties. But, in 20 years' time, it will probably be a reality and we'll bid farewell to long waiting lists for organ transplants. The first experiments with printing a heart on the Maastricht Health Campus and elsewhere look promising.

The range of applications for 3D printing (also known as 'additive manufacturing') is increasing steadily. And with it is growing the demand for new, innovative materials. You can regard materials science for 3D printing as a whole new branch of science. You can print with plastics (polymers), metals and even with human cells. In the Additive Manufacturing Materials Center (AMMC) on Chemelot, research is being conducted on a molecular level into the requirements that various materials and printing processes have to satisfy in order to produce a 3D print-out layer upon layer.

The AMMC is part of Chemelot Innovation and Learning Labs (CHILL) and is the result of intensive co-operation between Chemelot Campus, Maastricht University, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, FabLab Maastricht and Industriebank LIOF. CHILL is at the core of this network.