The IMS Project Clustering Platform facilitates on-going projects share knowledge, provide broader solutions in less time, reduce research costs, and expand networks through building of international coalitions. Possible outcomes include combining and collaborating project research activities. IMS selects a member region to lead each cluster, and the European Union volunteered to shepherd the Additive Manufacturing Project Cluster. Held in conjunction with the IMS World Manufacturing Forum, the workshop was held 2 May 2016 in Barcelona, Spain, that was facilitated by a local organizer and participant, Fundacio CIM.
To start the process, the European Commission found seventeen (17) on-going projects willing to share exploitable results with other IMS regions at a workshop. IMS searched its network to find twenty-two (22) projects and industrial partners from Mexico (8), South Africa (10), and the United States (4) that expressed interest in the projects and would also offer their exploitable results to share. Due to the high level of interest, the Additive Manufacturing theme was divided into three subthemes; metals, polymer-ceramics-biomaterials, and generic technologies. Through the IMS network, the thirty-nine projects (39) shared their exploitable results with TRL levels with each other. IMS then asked the cluster participants to rate their interests prior to the meeting and were charted by IMS. Possible project clusters became apparent, but some projects expressed interest in multiple projects. Since most projects were represented by only one person, a methodology was applied to the workshop to help participants narrow their choice to one project. Using materials developed by the IMS team, the participants then self assembled into clusters and identified its members, leadership, goals and objectives, and their work plans.
Six (6) clusters were formed as a result of the workshop collaborative process. Three were formed in the metals session, one in the polymers session, and two in the generic technologies session. The six clusters were given IMS standard MOA templates in case the cluster was able to commit to their work immediately. One cluster signed the MOA, “Titanium Aero Structures – AM (TAS-AM)”, and noted that there may be additional cooperation. Additionally, other clusters noted that their initial collaboration would build trust, and additional collaborations in more sensitive areas could develop.