3D printing to shape living
A.L.F. Uno S. p. a., manufacturer of furnishing solutions based in Francenigo di Gaiarine in the province of Treviso, is an example of how it is possible to reinterpret the Venetian artisan tradition with technological innovation, without sacrificing the quality and originality that have always distinguished its products.
The origins of the A. LF group. They date back to the 1950s, when a group of expert craftsmen set up a cooperative for mass production of wooden objects. Very soon A. L. F. expands to become an important reality in the international furniture sector, exporting the creativity and pride of “made in Italy”.
Today the A. L. F. group. has three production sites in Veneto and a sales office in Russia, thanks to its network of agencies, is present on five continents.
“I know the furniture factory A. L. F. For years and I have always considered it a company that in its sector is ahead of the times both from a computer and technological point of view and once again has proved it. The continuous research aimed at improving and optimizing their internal processes has led them to equip themselves with 3D printers, thus changing the paradigms of product development in the furniture sector“. Gianfranco Caufin, founder and owner of 3DZ Treviso.
Interview with Marco Bianchi, technical department, CAD and PDM contact personM
How did you learn about the 3D printer?
Interest in 3D printing was born about 3 years ago. We first turned to a print service, but because of the need to work independently, we purchased a printer. We now appreciate its usefulness, especially in the prototyping phase of relatively small components, which are, however, decisive for the design of the cabinet (handles, feet, profiles, etc.).
How much do you use the printer?
We work on product development throughout the year. The 3D printer therefore works several hours a day. But when important appointments such as trade fairs (Milan, High Point, etc.) are approaching when the company presents its new lines, the work is intensified and we print continuously for several consecutive days.
What are the main advantages of using 3D printing?
The main advantage is that parts can be printed and their functionality and ergonomics tested, whereas in the past it would have been necessary to make a mould, with high costs or in any case much longer timescales. This allows us to avoid design errors that cannot be detected before we have the physical piece in hand. We therefore use the 3D printer especially when designing new products.
What can future developments in the use of 3D printing in the processing of a product be?
At present, only one model can be printed on a scale of the product to provide a visual representation of proportions and shapes. It is obvious that if one day it were possible to print the product on a 1:1 scale and with materials similar to the actual ones, the time to market of the individual products would be significantly reduced. I believe that today, with regard to the large size of the product to be printed, the problem could be a question of costs. On the other hand, with regard to the fidelity of printing materials in terms of finish, gloss and therefore the final perception of the product, I believe that there is still a lot of work to be done.
How did the collaboration with 3DZ start?
3DZ provided us with advice in selecting the printer model that best suits our needs. After the purchase, however, his staff also provided us with adequate training on how to make the best use of the machine, on the maintenance to be done and on how to forward our service requests from the 3DZ portal. He also advised us in the choice of the most suitable materials for printing products such as ours and explained how to optimize it by exploiting the full potential of the software provided.
Does the company intend to expand its fleet in the future?
ALF Uno is a company that is always at the forefront and developed from a technological point of view. If some parts of the finished product need to be produced in small series in the future, you may need to purchase new printers.