RPD – RAPID PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT #3 – Sept. 2017
In 2008, the common passion of its members for innovative technologies has led to the creation of MET.
From the very beginning, a great interest sparked off for the emerging opportunities- at the time- of additive manufacturing.
The advice and engineering activity thus evolved, developing the additive logic in its DNA, especially the manufacturing of metal components through additive manufacturing.
Subsequently, in 2016, the collaboration undertaken with INITIAL, primary French company in additive manufacturing, has brought to a partnership that at present allows MET, with the exclusive over the entire Italian market, to assist the customer from design of the new product up to manufacturing with additive and ‘traditional’ technologies of details and products in metal and plastic materials.
“INITIAL – says Riccardo Ferrari, founder and owner of MET- is based in Haute Savoie and is fitted with all the main additive and conventional technologies with which it carries out a service activity of prototyping and manufacturing, even in series, in case of thermoplastic materials. The company belongs to the Prodways group, specialized in the construction of 3D printers, which in turn is part of Groupe Gorgé that operates in the main hi-tech sectors. The partnership agreement with this structured and consolidated reality thus allows us to complete our product development service with the supply of reliable additive components and the proximity of their factory, just after the Monte Bianco tunnel ensures delivery time that is equivalent to that of companies operating on the Italian territory”.
1. Fabric in PA 2200. Copyright: INITIAL Les Creations – ©Hamilton De Oliveira
2. Titanium component with topological optimization – DMLS Technology.
“Fitted with over 80 employees and more than 30 additive manufacturing systems, INITIAL builds parts in metal and in plastic material- says Ferrari-.
Amongst additive systems for the development of prototypes or small series, they boast stereolithography machines with which they process several epoxy resins; FDM for various materials, from Ultem 9085 for aerospace applications to ABS or polycarbonate; a PolyJet Connex that allows achieving objects with parts having different hardness, from 27 to 90 Shore; laser sintering machines that use a broad range of materials, from basic polyamides to high definition ones, to PA filled with glass fiber, aluminum and carbon fiber, flame-retardant additives for UL 94 V0 certification and these include 2 systems for sintering of large parts in nylon (up to 750 mm); this provides a great potential both in terms of piece size as of productivity since the two machines can work at the same time.
Besides these machines, there is a vacuum casting department with 4 vacuum casting systems in silicone molds that can attain large dimensions (up to 800 mm in length), a finish and a painting department.
The plastic material offer is completed with a second productive site, again in Haute Savoie that deals with mass manufacturing: the molding department has 5 injection presses up to 150 tons, for the processing of all thermoplastic materials and it is combined with a workshop for in-house mold construction.
About ten years ago, INITIAL, like us at MET, has begun investing in the domain of metal and now it has 8 systems dedicated to the manufacturing of additive parts in metal: 7 use EOS laser microfusion technology, while the eighth system is a recently installed EBM Arcam Q20; new investments have already been established to further extend the machine fleet in the metal field.
Even in the metal field they can process a wide array of materials: from stainless steel 316L or PH1 (greatly used for instance for the manufacturing of weapon components) to titanium for biomedical, from steel Maraging for molds, to aluminum for manufacturing of components for textile machines, from the super alloy Cr-Co to special alloys for the aeronautic compartment (Initial has close relationships with Airbus and the Toulouse district) then they process Hastelloy, Inconel 625, Inconel 718 and other metals.
There is also a department with 3 wire EDM machines, two 5-axes work stations for chip removal only dedicated to milling and finish of additive parts.
“The weapons sector is very interested in additive technologies- says Ferrari- because they make it possible to use stainless steel PH1, a material that is greatly used in this compartment, they provide great design freedom and are suitable for the manufacturing of small numbers.
For a primary company in this sector for instance, we have dealt with the engineering aimed at additive manufacturing of metal components on a rifle for Olympic competitions: a model that implies about 300-400 pieces at the most. In particular, the new design thought for additive manufacturing had to combine the esthetic aspect with functional improvements, respecting some critical points indicated by the customer that had to remain unchanged, being interface points with the rest of the mechanics.
Thanks to the versatility peculiar to additive technologies and the expertise we have gained on the topic, we have developed lighter components, with enhanced functional features, as well as an even and coherent design between the various parts of the weapon. Our strength derives precisely from here: from the synergy between the ability to develop new products and the potential offered by additive manufacturing. Once some design solutions were found, we submitted them to the customer for approval; then we moved to the manufacturing stage in stainless steel PH1”.
“We work for several other compartments: in automotive, aeronautics, biomedical and in the field of instruments and implants with parts in titanium or chrome-cobalt. If at the beginning we were mainly focused on metal now, thanks to the partnership with INITIAL, we want to export our expertise in the development of new products even to plastic materials in the automotive and racing sectors, as well as in industrial vehicles, for the manufacturing of cabin parts, engine components, and obviously parts for models in the wind gallery.
Another special compartment, which with INITIAL is increasingly resorting to additive technologies, is ‘fashion’. Recently, in a trendy and provocative manner, for example, they created a bride’s veil in nylon, made by a series of ringlets and meshes reproduced ‘n’ times, made without seeming thanks to the potential of additive manufacturing. Important fashion brands – says Ferrari- are studying the creation of accessories and, in particular, in eyewear where additive design can make the difference in terms of originality, personalization and thus competitiveness”.