Meteor and 3D printing for the design of parts for household appliances
Meteor chooses 3D printing for home appliance production
Meteor, a company that has always been receptive to changes and innovations to offer the best solutions to its customers, sees in 3D printing potential that goes beyond prototyping.
Meteor Sas di Fabio Dell’Oglio & C. is a company based in Mareno di Piave (TV) specialized in the design and manufacture of gearmotors and servomechanisms for the household appliance industry, professional applications and the automotive and medical sectors for the European and world markets.
Its versatile range of products includes motors and door closing devices for traditional and microwave ovens, servomechanisms for industrial washing machines, as well as motors designed for professional kitchens, peristaltic pumps and automatic distribution, valve and ball actuators for professional washing, cooking kits and rotisserie systems for collective catering.
The company in Italy has 85 employees, in Egypt the production site started in 2013 has about 40 employees and supplies components for household appliances, specifically the cooking sector for the domestic, European and North African markets.
The Meteor headquarters in Mareno di Piave, production area and laboratory.
An important phrase that has always characterized the company’s history is: “It is not the strongest species that survives but the most receptive to change”.
And this is precisely the best synthesis of the choices and strategies made by the company since it began, in 1966, with the production of heat generators and wood stoves with low energy consumption. In 1981 Meteor “evolved” by starting the production of gearmotors for roasters, introducing over time some automatic lines for the assembly of gearmotors for various sectors, equipped with 100% quality control systems. In 1991 it created a division dedicated to the design and manufacture of equipment, automations, prototypes and control stations, a fundamental link between the technical and production areas.
Since 2008, in synergy with one of the leading groups in the domestic sector, it has adopted the concept of “lean production”, assimilating the lean production system that aims to identify, reduce and potentially eliminate all “waste”.
This conviction and enthusiasm have never been exhausted, so much so that for years Meteor has been applying the principles of continuous improvement according to KaiZen methods, gaining experience in the field that has brought improvements and optimizations throughout the process and in every area of the company through the constant and consistent involvement of all staff so involved and proactive in daily activities, productive and not.
Starting from January 2017 Meteor has expanded its plant by doubling its surface from 3,000 to 6,000 square meters, doubling the production of gearmotors for different application sectors through assembly islands and innovative production lines that guarantee to industrialize and control the production with viewers and cameras.
Always attentive to the needs of the market and with a view to guaranteeing mutual economies of scale, Meteor has invested in strengthening the technical laboratories for control, research and development and in prototyping, which guarantees product quality in accordance with the standards required by customers and international safety standards.
Through the strategy of internalizing some processes considered strategic for the dominance of the production process, since 2015 Meteor has a head office in Villanova, Padua, equipped with 3 winding units for the realization of electrical windings, beating heart of the gearmotors “core business” of its activity.
In 2018 it purchased a 3D printer for the production of parts for the rapid and reliable prototyping of component solutions directly designed and proposed by the product development area, thus intercepting the needs of customers, anticipating the needs and proposing each time the solution qualitatively and technically most reliable and competitive.
We’re talking to you now:
Alessandro Esposti, Head of Meteor Technical Office
“How long ago was the interest in 3D printing born? How and for which products?”
“For several years now, Meteor has been making use of the possibilities offered by 3D printers. We have monitored the evolution of the market and initially made several prototypes through service companies using different technologies (FDM, sintering and resin). We have produced covers, gears, slides and other parts for most of the products in our range (gearmotors, door locks, actuators).
Wheels and gearmotors made in Meteor
“And after trying 3D printing using the services, did you buy one or more machines? How long ago was the interest in 3D printing born? How and for which products?”
“After a careful analysis and a detailed evaluation of our needs, this year we purchased the ProJet MJP 2500 Plus printer produced by 3D Systems. It is a machine capable of printing with high precision different plastic and elastomeric materials for a real functional and dimensional test”.
“How often do you use it?”
“Since the Projet MJP 2500 Plus became part of our technical department’s equipment, we use it daily (3 shifts).
“What are the main advantages in terms of time, cost and agility that you have experienced from using 3D printing?
“We have undoubtedly seen a number of advantages. A first advantage is the reduction in design time: our designers can check on a daily basis whether the solution designed meets their expectations. In this way, they are able to improve the solutions found during design, without waiting for the production of polymeric or metal parts made from pilot or final moulds. All this has allowed us to reduce design times and guarantee the precision of the parts made by means of the final moulds.
“The agility of our production has also benefited from the use of 3D printing: Every day we print details of different projects at the same time and possibly several solutions for each individual studio. This allows us to select the best one for each project,” continues Mr. Esposti.
“Could you briefly describe to us at which stage of the processing of your products 3D printing is used?
“Even though we initially purchased the printer to make prototype samples at the design stage, we immediately appreciated its greater potential for a variety of alternative uses as well. For example, we have already used it to make samples of new products to be presented to our customers at international meetings, to print assembly templates and to make internal equipment.
What developments do you foresee in your use of this technology?”
“We believe that it is a multi-purpose tool and that, given the possibility of printing different materials (even transparent ones), in the future the Projet 2500 Plus will allow us to discover other uses that we may not have considered yet.
Example of a 3D printed mounting template (visible in red) used by Meteor for internal tooling
“More generally, what is your perception of the development of 3D printing?”
“The evolution of synthetic materials is extremely rapid, so I believe that in the near future 3D printers will replace the classic machines for machining parts.
This change will allow us to create geometries that are unattainable today, increase the resistance of components without increasing their size, reduce the weight and cost of manufacturing products subject to heavy stress or that require compliance with particularly stringent regulations.
“Can you tell us how the collaboration with 3DZ developed? In addition to the machine, what kind of services did it provide you with?
“We noticed the 3DZ stand at the MEC-SPE trade fair in Parma. After highlighting our needs, the 3DZ staff guided us to find the most suitable product for our requirements.
During the product evaluation, the 3DZ staff also provided us with several samples produced with different technologies and machines so that we could choose the best printer for our needs.
“And in the future, are you going to increase your fleet? And if so, what is the goal you would like to achieve?”
“As mentioned above, we believe that this type of technology is in full development. We consider ourselves to be an innovative company, always looking to the future, so we are always ready to change and evaluate what the market has to offer. If necessary, we will certainly consider the purchase of new printers, perhaps to be included in our production department to replace traditional machine tools.
The testimony of 3DZ
“The goal that Meteor set itself with the purchase of the 3D printer was to be able to quickly and extremely accurately produce functional components that could be mechanically tested. The proven expertise of the 3DZ supplier and the wide range of professional printers and materials available in the portfolio were decisive in choosing the 3D printing solution. Thanks to 3DSystems solutions and in particular the ProJet MJP 2500 Plus printer, Meteor can meet the growing demand for new prototypes necessary for product innovation and maintaining a leading position in the market.”