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Technologies and enablers

The efficiency and sustainability of both the manufacturing of actual and future products is still very much determined by the processes that shape and assemble the components of these products. Innovative products and advanced materials (including nano-materials) are emerging but are not yet developing to their full advantage since robust manufacturing methods to deliver these products and materials are not developed for large scale. Research is needed to ensure that novel manufacturing processes can efficiently exploit the potential of novel products for a wide range of applications.
  • Additive manufacturing

    Also referred to as 3D printing.

  • Innovative physical, chemical and physicochemical processes
  • Photonics-based materials processing technologies
  • Shaping technology for difficult to shape materials Shaping technology such as forming and machining, to address challenges related to “difficult to shape” materials and to explore new processing methods to achieve nano-sized microstructure components.
  • Replication, Equipment for flexible scalable prod/Assembly , Coatings
  • Methods for handling of parts, metrology and inspection Methods for handling of parts, metrology and inspection require development also to ensure ability to manufacture at scale (volume) with high reliability.
  • Integration of non-conventional technologies and conventional technologies

    Integration of non-conventional technologies (e.g. laser, ultrasonic) towards the development of new multifunctional manufacturing processes (including in process concept: inspection, thermal treatment, stress relieving, machining, joining

  • High productivity and “self assembly” technologies development of conventional (joining, forming, machining) and new micro/nano-manufacturing processes
  • Flexible Sheet-to-Sheet (S2S) and Roll-to-Roll (R2R) Flexible Sheet-to-Sheet (S2S) and Roll-to-Roll (R2R), building in plastics electronics, large volume patterning at nanoscale (photolithography) and new materials and greater use of space on CMOS.
  • Recycling processes

Mechatronics, which is also called mechatronic engineering, is a multidisciplinary branch of engineering that focuses on the engineering of both electrical and mechanical systems, and also includes a combination of robotics, electronics, computer, telecommunications, systems, control, and product engineering. (From

  • Control technologies

    Control technologies will be further exploiting the increasing computational power and intelligence in order to come forward to the demands of increased speed and precision in manufacturing. Advanced control strategies will allow the use of lighter actuators and structural elements for obtaining very rigid and accurate solutions, replacing slower and more energy-intensive approaches. Learning controllers adapt the behaviour of systems to changing environments or system degradation, taking into account constraints and considering alternatives, hereby relying on robust industrial real-time communication technologies, system modelling approaches and distributed intelligence architectures.

  • Condition and performance monitoring technologies

    Continuous monitoring of the condition and performance of the manufacturing system on component and machine level, enables sustainable and competive manufacturing, also by introducing autonomous diagnosis capabilities and context-awareness. Detecting, measuring and monitoring the variables, events and situations will increase the performance and reliability of manufacturing systems. This involves advanced metrology, calibration and sensing, signal processing and model-based virtual sensing for a wide range of applications, e.g. event pattern detection, diagnostics, anomaly detection, prognostics and predictive maintenance.

  • Intelligent machinery components, actuators and end-effectors

    Intelligent components enable the deployment of safe, energy-efficient, accurate and flexible or reconfigurable products and production systems. This includes the introduction of smart actuators and the use of advanced end-effectors composed of passive and active materials. Energy technologies are gaining importance, such as (super)capacitors, pneumatic storage devices, batteries and energy harvesting technologies.

  • Energy technologies
  • Advanced materials in manufacturing systems Production equipment does not yet take full advantage of the benefits that new and advanced materials offer, and factories of the future will need more advanced equipment to meet the requirements for energy efficiency and environmental targets and to meet new demands for a connected world. The future will therefore see modern, lightweight, long-lasting/flexible and smart equipment able to produce current and future products for existing and new markets. There will be a step change in the construction of such equipment, leading to a sustainable manufacturing base able to deliver high added value products and customised production. Increased smartness in the manufacturing equipment also enables a systems approach with machines able to learn from each other and impacting on the human-machine interface.
  • Digital manufacturing platforms


  • IoT - Internet of Things

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interrelated computing devices, mechanical and digital machines, objects, animals or people that are provided with unique identifiers (UIDs) and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.  (from

  • Human Machine Interfaces
  • Data collection, storage, analytics, processing and AI
  • System modelling, simulation and forecasting

    Simulation (often referred to as digital twins) is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system. The act of simulating something first requires that a model be developed; this model represents the key characteristics, behaviors and functions of the selected physical or abstract system or process. The model represents the system itself, whereas the simulation represents the operation of the system over time. (from

  • Programming Frameworks – Software Development Kits (SDKs)
  • Programming Languages
  • Operating systems
  • ICT Architectures
  • From Product/Services Systems (product centric approach) to Services through Product (solution oriented approach) The “servitization wave” of manufacturing has already spread out to the advanced countries and many leading high-capital investment sectors (e.g. aerospace and automotive) are already competing in the international markets providing to their customers a composition of services for product operation (e.g. maintenance, reliability, upgrades), and end-of-life use (e.g. re-manufacturing, recycling, disposal). Especially SMEs are trying to compete in the international markets with their niche solutions, adding innovative services to their value propositions. Such innovative business models are based on a dynamic network of companies, continuously moving and changing in order to afford more and more complex compositions of services. In such a context, there is a strong need to create distributed, adaptive, and interoperable virtual enterprise environments supporting these undergoing processes. In order to do so, new tools must be provided for enabling and fostering the dynamic composition of enterprise networks. In particular, SMEs call for tools and instruments which follow them in their continuously re-shaping process, enabling collaboration and communication among the different actors of the product-service value chains. New IPR methods are also needed.
  • From delocalisation to Globalisation 2.0 (re-shoring)

    The rise of the transport cost, the need for higher efficiency and productivity, the customer demand for greener product, the higher instability of raw material and energy prices and the shortening of the lead-time production will push for a more critical assessment of the delocalisation strategy towards low cost countries. Service-led personalised products will require a new paradigm for western countries re-industrialisation (Globalisation 2.0), moving back (re-shoring) manufacturing of selected products.

  • Innovation Finally, innovation should become a business model in itself and a continuously run business process (the factory innovation): increasing the competitiveness through the design of a new product requires the development of a company strategy where product and process innovation is seen as a permanent, widely distributed, multi level, social oriented and user centric activity. Collaboration among companies of different sectors to exploit multi-disciplinary cross fertilisation is also envisaged. New tools, methodology and approaches for the user experience intelligence (i.e. social networks, crowd sourcing, social science methods, qualitative and quantitative, to generate insights, models and demonstrations, etc.) need to be addressed and explored.
  • From User-centric design to user well-being design According to the new paradigm of sustainability, the importance of the user is increasing. The user is at the same time a customer, a citizen and a worker. The well-being of the user could therefore become a winning strategy both for B2B as well as B2C companies. More detailed modelling behaviour can help the development of innovative solutions, aiming at user comfort, safety, performance, style; this requires new competitive focus for the development of these innovative solutions and new business models to support a quick and dynamic response to market changes.
  • Virtualisation and digitalisation of the interrelation between manufacturing and new business models As products are today virtually designed and tested before being engineered for production, new business models need also to have tools to support the company to design and test them before they are implemented through products, services and manufacturing processes. The complexity of these tools is higher than that of tools for product development, due the need for holistic modelling of product and processes.

The European Factories of the Future are expected to provide global manufacturing competitiveness, but also to create a large amount of work opportunities for the European population. Future factory workers are therefore key resources for industrial competitiveness as well as important consumers. However, as previously stated, the changing demographics and high skill requirements faced by European industry pose new challenges. Workers with high knowledge and skills (“knowledge workers”) will be scarce resources. Research efforts within Horizon 2020 must address ways to increase the number of people available for, and interested in, manufacturing tasks. This includes the following important aspects of the human resources: - New technology-based approaches to accommodate age-related limitations, through ICT and automation - New technical, educational, and organisational ways to increase the attractiveness of factory work to the young potential workforce, the existing workforce, the potential immigrant workforce, and the older workforce - New approaches to skill- and competence development, as well as skill and knowledge management, to increase competitiveness and be part of the global knowledge society - New ways to organise and compensate factory knowledge workers - New factory human-centric work-environments based on safety and comfort - Ways to integrate future factory work in global and local societal agendas and social patterns