3D printing, more generically known as additive manufacturing, is rapidly expanding and can be subdivided in many 3D printing technologies including Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM), Digital Light Processing (DLP) and jetting. By means of these technologies all kinds of products can be printed without the need of (expensive and less sustainable) assembling techniques. However, the market provides only a limited choice of printing materials. An innovative development of these materials is needed, especially in the field of bio-based polymers, as a sustainable variant.


‘Accelerate³’ desires to unite the specific expertise of the Dutch province of Limburg and the Flemish province of Occidental Flanders to bundle the necessary knowledge and testing infrastructure. Both regions represent this sector and have a similar economic fabric that mainly consists of small and medium-sized companies. They also face identical challenges and are active in a similar field, with complementary specialisations. The cross border collaboration between both regions offers thus an ideal opportunity to substantially broaden their knowledge and networking.

This cross-border clustering will enable the growth of the SME's in both regions. Several sectors (materials, manufacturers and software companies) will benefit from 'Accelerate³'.

Project progress

In the framework of the Accelerate³ project, Centexbel has invested in the Arburg Freeformer technology for Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing). Since the summer of 2017, the Freeformer is operational and reinforces the Centexbel-VKC infrastructure in Kortrijk in the field of polymer processing for textile and plastic applications.

The layer-by-layer deposition of plastics (Additive Manufacturing) allows to produce prototypes and small series in a much faster way. The Freeformer technology has the specific feature that it is capable of directly processing of plastic granulates. To process the largest possible range of plastic types, Centexbel is developing materials and defining processing conditions. This will allow us to use the appliance for prototyping and research in function of industrial partners. The Freeformer will also be applied in the current research regarding the functionalisation of conventionally manufactured textiles and plastics, by means of direct printing on existing structures.

Freeformer (c) Arburg

In a following phase, Centexbel foresees to invest in a new monofilament line to further expand the development of innovative (biobased) filaments for 3D printing.

Project website

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Start date: 
01 Jan 2016
End date: 
31 Dec 2018