Launched in July 2010, the EU-funded Demat project defines its main objective as to dematerialise the machine tools and manufacturing systems that are designed and produced in Europe. Coordinated by Tecnalia and disseminated by Cecimo, Demat sets forth comprehensive methodology for decoupling production results from the material structure of machines, which will reduce the total-life-cycle impacts and costs of machines in a radical manner.

The heavy material structure of the machine, coupled with heavy duties assigned to it, is often a source of high energy consumption. Dematerialised machine tools developed within the Demat project will consist of ultra-light, adaptive and 100% reusable and recyclable skeletal structures. Whilst the material content of machines is drastically reduced, the replacement of this material content with knowledge-based tools and technologies will enable manufacturers to fulfil requirements for machining precision and productivity.

Demat project focuses especially on machine tool level, but also aims to connect these machines with low material and high knowledge content to a collaborative working environment supported by intelligent decision-making tools at system level. This will allow suppliers of machine tools to transform themselves into providers of manufacturing solutions of minimum material content. The project Coordinator, Ph.D. Juanjo Zulaika Muniain, from Tecnalia, states: «At the machine level, this means transforming the structural elements of machines into a combination of extremely light-weighted and modular skeletal structures. At the manufacturing systems level, we are developing tools to make it possible to reconfigure and optimise the plant layout, and to enable making effective decisions in this respect».

Juanjo Zulaika explains that increased modularity and reconfigurability will also help significantly reduce the lead-time, providing a competitive edge to suppliers of dematerialized manufacturing systems. Furthermore, the development of innovative product-related services adapted to dematerialized systems will support the customer throughout the life cycle of machines whilst increasing the value added generated by the machine tool supplier. The Demat project offers «a new way to design, build, use and sell machine tools».