Manufacturing plastic prototypes with 3D printing technologies
Meccanica Montanari, founded in 1963 as a company for manufacturing molds for injection molding and that during the 90s went to cover also third party custom mechanicals, is in its third generation with a wealth of experience and an equally great desire to grow and experiment.
Ambition that could not miss from investigating the possibilities of a technology full of potential – still largely unexpressed – as 3D printing.
Explains Mauro Montanari, CEO of the company.
A new way to manufacture plastic prototypes
“We chose to invest in 3D printing, and then in the purchase of 3D printers, as we believe that this way will be the right one to offer new services to our customers and to acquire new ones, opening our activities to new areas”
The interest dates back almost two years ago, between late 2013 and early 2014, and it was immediately directed towards the world of professional 3d printing, actually bypassing all those tools that are common, but that have a limited potential of application to manufacturing enterprises.
“We approached the world of professional 3D printing discarding almost immediately some cheaper products that have a wider diffusion especially in the world of hobbies, concentrating instead on printers can offer more professional standards”.
The partnership with 3DZ
Alongside Meccanica Montanari in this research process was 3DZ, who led the company in understanding the peculiarities of the different kinds of 3D printing technology. In particular, what interested the customer was:
“A certain versatility of use, the ability to manufacture plastic prototypes with a high degree of precision and detail matched also with high mechanical qualities of the piece made”.
The matching between the requests of the company and the proposals of the market came to the choice of the 3D printer Projet 3510 SD produced by 3D Systems and purchased in August 2014, the ideal choice to print high quality durable plastic prototypes.
An awesome choice as it has actually allowed them to start new collaborations both with new customers and suppliers, with which the company is shaping some interesting synergies.
What is, according to Mauro Montanari, the main benefit of 3D printing?
The chief executive has no doubts in identifying it, today, in the speed with which you can provide the customer the required parts. And maybe there will be even more in the future when this technology will find space not only in prototyping but also in replacing the conventional manufacturing processes (molding and cutting tools).
“I refer in particular to metal printing, a field in which the possibility of creating incredibly complex geometries in a short time, combined with the extremely reduced material waste, will make the difference, especially when the costs of machines and materials will go down”.
And it is on materials, according to Montanari, that we will play the game of future 3D printing applications:
“One aspect that will be critical and on which the producers are already working is the topic of recyclable materials; I refer to both the waste ones (support, material non-sintered or cured …) and the one used for the plastic prototypes themselves that, once their task is completed, they can be recycled to make new prototypes”.
Any limitation in the present use of 3D printing?
“The Projet allows you to create the plastic prototypes in a very precise and complex way, and it is limited only by the high costs both of the support materials and, where are not required tight tolerances or particularly problematic geometries, this can become a barrier”.
That’s why the company is already evaluating with 3DZ the purchase of another printer, a FDM, to achieve the plastic prototypes at a lower cost.