Additive Manufacturing: the point of view of experts in design and engineering

Additive production offers significant advantages in terms of production speed, design freedom, variety of materials and quality; these advantages are enhanced by a correct engineering of objects and components to be produced. We met the managers of Project Srl, technical office specialized in engineering, and we asked them to offer us their point of view on Additive Manufacturing.

Project Srl di Novellara (RE)

Design and engineering for 3D printing

Project Srl was founded in Novellara, Reggio Emilia, in 1990. The company deals with machine design and style studies, engineering, feasibility studies, stylistic analysis, 3D definition of details, product industrialization and many other services supporting the technical departments of client companies. The sectors that use the services of Project are innumerable and include, among others: automation, medical, mechanics, agriculture.

Always looking for the most advanced solutions, Project was soon interested in the possibilities of additive manufacturing and turned to our factory to combine its skills in engineering with those of Zare in the field of technology, materials and machine setting for the 3D printing.

In the field of engineering aimed at additive manufacturing, Project deals with remodeling, parameterizing and optimizing the designer's project to make it feasible, considering the peculiarities of CAD design, but also of material, production and quantity; all this respecting constraints and encumbrances and maintaining the aesthetics expected by the customer. In short, it is a matter of combining design with the mechanical part.

The company employs specialized personnel and advanced CAD programs, which guarantee excellent results in terms of surface quality, such as Creo, Siemens NX and CATIA; it also uses special software for structural calculations, materials management and parametric or non-parametric modification that allow to obtain particular shapes starting from a 2D or 3D object.

Project Srl di Novellara (RE)

The advantages of Additive Manufacturing

We asked the Project experts what the advantages of additive manufacturing were, especially when compared to traditional techniques. The answer can be summarized, first of all, in greater design freedom.

Project engineers emphasized how Additive Manufacturing allows to create shapes and geometries that would be impossible to obtain with traditional production techniques, leaving the designer more freedom. From the engineering point of view this allows to respect the designer's project and simplifies the modeling task; it is thus possible to devote oneself immediately to parameters such as resistance or to the search for the most suitable shape for the intended purpose.

Freedom does not only concern shapes and geometries, but also the possibility to customize and vary production. For example, consider a traditional production made by molds: if I intend to produce the same object in several variants, I will have to have a mold for every single variant; with rapid prototyping I can instead create series of identical pieces, but also a series of elements with different details, for prototypal purposes or for the realization of final pieces.

Secondly, with the additive technique it is possible to easily create special internal structures: for example, think of the honeycomb structure, which guarantees lightness, or the production of monolithic pieces where traditional techniques would require the production of several parts to be joined.

Another advantage is the possibility of studying mechanical parts with unique characteristics that translate into machinery that can work better and produce more, while reducing downtime and maintenance. This is useful for example in the production of spare parts that were produced with traditional techniques and that can find all these advantages in a 3D production.

Finally, the Project engineers appreciated the possibility of using highly performing materials with special characteristics, such as the UV resistance of ASA material.

Additive Manufacturing at the service of the textile industry

To better understand the relationship between Zare and Project Srl we cite, below, a case in which additive manufacturing turned out to be the best choice for a customer facing the Novellara company.

Those who repair textile machines or label-making machinery for the sector, in order to fulfill their tasks, need spare parts, specifically mechanical parts from standard machining on steel and aluminum. The replacement, in these cases, represents the heart of the machine, it is a hook that, roto-translating, takes the thread and makes the necessary knot for the cards. The object has a hook shape and is cut in half length: these features allow you to pick up and tighten the wire at the tip of the hook with a small movement and then release it once the knot is finished.

The customer turned to Project Srl had already done tests on CNC machines for production but the results obtained were not in line with expectations and costs were too high. Project has suggested to the customer the possibility of using metal 3D printing technologies, otherwise ignored by the customer.

Together, we collaborated in the choice of a material that had all the characteristics expected for the piece and, thanks to our internal finishing department, we indicated the necessary treatments to make the piece performing and aesthetically suitable to the requests: solubilization, aging, micro-peening and polishing.

pezzo di ricambio in metallo per macchinari produttori di cartellini per industria tessile

The importance of a specialized service

At the end of our meeting we asked the Project managers which elements in particular had convinced them to choose Zare as a partner to advise their customers.

They replied that they evaluated the fleet and the focus on renewing it with the most advanced technologies, in fact a wide variety of production systems allows not only to choose the most suitable technology for the purpose, but also means, in the case of Zare, to have mono-material systems: this results in less chance of dust contamination and faster production speed.

A wide range of materials is combined with the variety of the machines and Project has immediately appreciated the skills of our technicians in this regard.

Another determining element for the choice is the management of the technical documentation, extremely accurate, accompanied by the precision and repeatability of the processes.

The expertise in machine setup and experience in advanced sectors such as motorsport and aerospace are fundamental; the simplest applications benefits of the experience gained in critical and complex sectors.