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Sustain 3D builds on insights from the Northsea program project COM3 SUSTAIN-3D, which identifies barriers, solutions, and mitigating initiatives to help SMEs implement additive manufacturing (AM).

The partnership consists of knowledge institutions and business developers with a strong outreach to SMEs. Their main objective is to ensure that companies can profit from new technologies and be at the forefront of R&D.


From until

Supported by

Interreg North Sea

View the project website


The initiative is set to integrate advanced technology such as Additive Manufacturing (AM), which presents a complex challenge. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) recognize that AM could be instrumental in fostering innovation and maintaining a competitive edge. However, the practical applications of AM in their specific production processes remain elusive. While some SMEs have made substantial investments in AM, the financial return on these investments is not always apparent.

The utilization rate of existing AM equipment is alarmingly low, sometimes below 3%. Conversely, some SMEs either refrain from investing or opt for more affordable machines that fail to deliver the expected performance. These situations collectively hinder the progression towards the digital transformation of Industry 4.0. The SUSTAIN-3D program aims to address and alleviate these barriers.

Complex causes

Studies of the problem point to complex causes:

  • Lack of skilled workers and innovators
  • Lack of (digital and structural) infrastructure
  • Lack of objective institutional and digital support

A complex problem like this is beyond any one company to solve. Companies across Belgium, Denmark, France and The Netherlands have teamed up with knowledge institutions and local industry networks to analyze, develop, and implement solutions to the problem.


The overall goals of the project are to:

Firstly, create demand:

  • More SMEs need to invest in the right AM technology

And also, create effect:

  • Expensive production-grade machines must be utilized better
  • Ensure that SMEs invest in the right equipment

Expected impact

Sustain-3D will

  • Assess if the CORA/COM3 model for digital transformation can be meaningfully applied to the case of AM technology. This will create a foundation for the partners to work on even after the project period.

  • Implement local action plans related to skill, services, and infrastructure.

The project will help 40 SMEs and 7 partners increase capacity for implementing AM.


Project partners

We are delighted to collaborate with the following partners:

Our research team

Coördinator Onderzoekslijn

Kevin Sel

Kevin Sel is onderzoeker binnen de expertises CNC verspaning, CAD/CAM en Model Based Definition.


Nannerli Potvlieghe

Nannerli behaalde haar Master in de Productontwikkeling in 2022 waarin zij zich voornamelijk verdiepte in strategic design, user-centered design, product-service systems en CAD. 


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