The RPD editorial team has recently visited our company and has write a long insight into the situation of the industrial additive production. A look from above taking inspiration from our factory.
We include the integral article.
The Additive Factory
Additive manufacturing has opened up promising opportunities in highly technological and performing compartments, catalysts, for their nature, of research and innovation: from racing to aerospace, from medical to tooling. Born as tool for rapid prototyping, enhanced in rapid manufacturing for small numbers, the additive approach has experienced a necessarily experimental and ‘artisanal’ stage that has led to a better understanding of its real potential that can unfold in a fully industrial manufacturing philosophy by means of a conscious design culture and a rigorous systematization in each process stage.
A manufacturing strategy for 3D
Zare’s core business is the complete developent of functional components exclusively made through additive technologies. Provided with the main additive manufacturing technolo- gies for the processing of metals and polymers, the company based in Reggio Emilia boast a strong specialization in the motorpoostrt sector, it is certified UNI EN 9100:2009 for the aeronautic/aerospace sector and is conquering an important market in the manufacturing of inserts for molding in packaging, medical and more.“We call ourselves ‘factory’ because 70% of our business is represented by the manufacturing of functional parts, i.e. components ready for final placement and 30% in the construction of prototypes. In addition- says Giuseppe Pisciuneri, technical/commercial manager at Zare each single stage of our manufacturing processes has been systematized, creating a development that is entirely controlled and repeatable. To propose ourselves as supplier for the aeronautic compartment it is essential to possess the certification that guarantees com- pliance with standards along every step, from the composition of additive powders to the deli- very of a completely finished piece.This approach has changed our way of working, setting many constraints; monitoring slows down the manufacturing process and it has been necessary to solve the conflict between the benefits of method systemization and the speed to which additive manufacturing has accustomed us. Perhaps because of this conflict, many competing companies maintain an artisanal and experimental philosophy with regards to these tech- nologies, in our opinion, more suitable for the construction of prototypes and not appropriate for a production destined to demanding fields, hence thought ‘in additive’ in its true meaning, starting from design and rigorously controlled as is the case in ‘conventional’ industrialization of hi-tech goods such as in automotive and aeronautics”.
All AM discipline
“Our machine fleet- says Pisciuneri - is organized in the main additive technologies, namely FDM, SLS, PolyJet, DMLS systems, besides the recently purchased printer Multi Jet Fusion by HP. Such a rich fleet allows us to use the single systems even with just one material. The relatively long time required by the powder change represents a critical element and not accidental- ly, manufacturers are working to speed up and automate this aspect. At Zare, the possibility of using a single material for each machine allows us to optimize timing. Furthermore, every tech- nology requires specific expertise: the most consolidated technology in terms of machines and applications, Fused Deposition Modeling - is relatively within reach for everyone but for other processes, especially those used in manufacturing of functional parts, operators’ experience is very important hence in the company those in charge of sintering are not in charge of FDM. The experience acquired on the field has made our operators capable of carrying out a perfect job machine setting, to obtain the best results in terms of quality and productivity. The software developed for such function can repre- sent a useful aid but it is the operator’s practical, everyday expertise that makes the difference; the activity of third parties specialized in production of large numbers imposes to fully exploit the potential of systems and, in this sense, our work contributes to the process of full industrialization of the sector”.
To close the productive circle, postproduction plays a pivotal role. “Finishing of a product made in additive is a process that can greatly differ from what required by parts obtained with traditional machines and it varies depending on the manufacturing technology, the material, and the components’ destination – says Pisciuneri. Esthetic finish is carried out by our specialized department, called Zare Stile
For what concerns metal components, the thermal treatment is used on more critical pieces to make the internal residual stress uniform or incre- ase their mechanical performances; it is carried out following customer specification or it is suggested by our experience for complex and delicate geometries. In the company we have two ovens in argon protected atmosphere, while vacuum thermal treatments like hot isostatic pressing, used to level the component’s crystalline structure is assi- gned to external specialized suppliers”.
On the two-fold front of plastic and metal, Zare is a precious reality for industries promoting and consuming technological innovation. “Our turnover - says Andrea Pasquali, RP Manager at Zare- is split in half between metal and plastic components manufacturing, with a slight predominance of the former. Our customers belong to various sectors including: the motorsport, aerospace, automotive, packaging, automation and design; the medical and dental domains are assigned to a dedicated division, created at the beginning of this year. A very appealing application field that is growing is tooling; we manufac- ture conformed cooling inserts for injection molds for plastic materials and for die-casting of low-melt metals such as aluminum. It is an important solution for packaging and disposablep roduct, where molding of items such as glasses, syrin- ges, bottles etc. featuring thin sections, hence always critical, benefits greatly from the use of additive inserts.
In motorsport we mainly use PA CF materials ideal- in terms of mechanical strength, surface esthetics and versatility to meet the needs of high-performance niche applications; these materials make up 85% of the plastic materials we process, while for the remaining 15% of our production with resins we use Stratasys materials”