Aitzol Lamikiz. Bilbao Faculty of Engineering.

Autor: David Rodríguez
5 January 2022

For this first interview, I have the great pleasure of having Aitzol Lamikiz, Professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the School of Industrial Engineering of Bilbao, belonging to the University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU). Aitzol works in the field of advanced manufacturing, both additive and hybrid, as a researcher, lecturer and thesis supervisor. He also collaborates with several research centres and universities at an international level, being a member of the technology committee of the Aeronautics Advanced Manufacturing Centre (CFAA). See complete Cv [1]

His privileged vision of the sector gives us an idea of the situation of AM in the Basque Country, Spain and Europe, especially from the point of view of research and development and the transfer of this knowledge to companies.

TSL – Euskadi identified Advanced Manufacturing, together with energy and biosciences/health, as an area of specialisation within the European RIS3 strategy. [2]

What role does the UPV-EHU, as an agent of the RVCTI [3], play in this strategy?

Aitzol – At Basque level, the UPV/EHU is the agent with the most researchers and the greatest scientific impact if we consider the reference indicators (number of publications, number of PhDs,…). Of the fields mentioned, the UPV-EHU is the most relevant agent in biosciences/health and very important in energy and Advanced Manufacturing.

Where is the Basque Country in the field of Advanced Manufacturing and more specifically in Additive Manufacturing?

Advanced Manufacturing has traditionally been a pillar of the Basque Country’s economy (machine tool, automotive component manufacturers, aerospace, etc.). In my opinion it is the most renowned region in Spain and one of the most prominent in Europe. If you consider only Additive Manufacturing, the tradition is less and there is not such a dense network as in other fields of Manufacturing.

That said, Additive Manufacturing has been developed, researched and implemented in a considerable number of companies, being one of the most advanced regions at national level.

At this point, I would highlight that this is Additive Manufacturing for industrial/professional use, integrating it into the value chain of companies, functional parts (including metal parts), research and training centres oriented towards industrial use, unlike other regions where Additive Manufacturing activity is being developed with a design orientation, models, mock-ups, etc.

Can it be, or is it already a reference hub in Europe?

In my opinion, the Basque Country is a major hub in Europe in the field of Advanced Manufacturing.

What lines of research does UPV-EHU have in the field of Additive Manufacturing?

As far as I know, it has 3 research groups working along these topics:

High Performance Manufacturing Group that researches in metal additive manufacturing processes for the aerospace, automotive and equipment goods sectors. Developing processes, software, monitoring and numerical models.

A product design group, which uses AM to validate designs of different products, ergonomics, reverse engineering results, etc.

A chemistry group working on polymeric materials.

“A priori, company-university technology transfer is a path accessible to any industrial organisation in the field of additive manufacturing.”.

How is this research and knowledge transferred to the industry?

Basically through 2 channels:

Projects in cooperation with companies, in which the Basque region has a series of specific calls for proposals in addition to the national and European ones.

Training of technical personnel, in which new technologies and developments are introduced to people who then will join companies.

Is this technology transfer accessible to all industrial companies in the field?

A priori, yes it is, since there are public calls, the participation of SMEs is promoted. There are specific calls for SMEs and start-ups. However, the reality is that transfer activities are carried out between RVCTI agents and a relatively small group of companies that have a high technological capacity and tend to be relatively large.  In any case, this is a general reflection and there is a wide variety of casuistry.

What services does the university offer the business fabric in advanced-additive manufacturing applications?

In general, the UPV/EHU usually offers development and transfer of research results (based on aforementioned projects or calls). Sometimes, it can be considered a service given that it can be a specific or complex analysis to carry out in the market. In this field, the UPV/EHU can characterise the starting material for additive manufacturing processes, whether it is in the form of powder or wire. It is also possible to analyse the part, mechanical characterisation, inspection using different methods including NDTs, manufacture of test pieces for validation and analysis, process consultancy, etc.

How is additive manufacturing education at university level? Does it have its own subject, a master’s degree?

Focusing only on the UPV/EHU, as I don’t know about other universities and training centres, for some years now additive manufacturing has been included in the syllabus of subjects. Specifically, a 4-hour module began to be taught in 2011 for students of the MH Classroom, and has been extended to an 18-hour module that has been taught in the last 2 editions. There is also a specific UPV/EHU degree in Additive Manufacturing led by the IMH in Elgoibar [4] in which UPV/EHU lecturers give classes and belong to the degree’s Academic Committee. Along these lines, projects are underway to develop specific training modules in Additive Manufacturing for technicians in the mould and die-making sector, trying to incorporate technical personnel specialised in Additive Manufacturing into this sector.


[1] See CV


[3] Red Vasca de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación

[4] IMH Elgoibar

David Rodríguez

3D Printing professional. Mining & Energy Engineer B.Sc. Industrial Engineer M.Sc. Believe to make.

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