Over the past few weeks Rubinetterie Bresciane Bonomi SpA announced that, thanks to the collaboration with the Italian 3D4MEC, will begin to produce prototypes of its products by 3D printing directly in brass using 3D4BRASS, the first printer in the world capable of printing objects in the alloy of copper and zinc. For the company this is an achievement not only from the side of customer caresince now the company will be able, in a few hours, to create and show customers customized prototypes to satisfy any type of request, but also from the technical one because before 3D4BRASS there was no printing solution with metal additive able to find a meeting point between speed, efficiency and low cost.
Let’s take a small step back: what is metal additive? Simplifying, the metal additive process is more simply known as metal 3D printing, which sees the printer producing complex three-dimensional parts by melting metal powder with a laser. It is possible to do this using two different methodologies, which respond to the main needs in the manufacturing process: the Powder Bed Fusion, which allows you to make the parts in every detail, and the Direct Energy Deposition which, thanks to the targeted deposit of the powder, allows to repair and even customize existing components, reducing any type of waste to a minimum. The printer supplied to Rubinetterie Bresciane by 3D4MEC uses the first of the two, the Powder Bed Fusion, it is in fact the first L-PBF 3D printer capable of producing prototypes directly in brass, following in the footsteps of the previous product of the Emilian company. , 3D4STEEL, which allows 3D printing in steel .
“I am very proud of the milestone we have achieved, successfully completing the challenge launched by Rubinetterie Bresciane Bonomi, a company of excellence that was among the first to understand the importance of additive technologies and which, once again, has shown that the ‘innovation plays a fundamental role in confirming its leadership on the market. ” he has declared Ivano CorsiniCEO of 3D4MEC Srl, continuing “I trust that Italian entrepreneurs and companies, thanks to 3D4MEC printers, can expand their market shares, acquire more customers and improve their processes, in order to cover the leading position they deserve to national and international level “
“Metal additive is the future and the benefits it gives to companies such as the production of small pre-series for the validation of new products and the consequent reduction of time to market are only the beginning of a path of growth and innovation and of a long-term vision “added theing. Giovanni PioliHead of the technical office of Rubinetterie Bresciane Bonomi,
Thanks to the collaboration with the engineer Pioli, 3D4MEC had the opportunity to put itself in a position of clear advantage over the competition in the entry of Smart Factories. Of course, the sudden change from traditional manufacturing to additive can still be seen as a risky process, but the company’s CEO has also thought about this by providing the 3D4YOU training course that it will allow companies, among other things, to test printers to assess their economic and production impacts.
We had the opportunity to ask some questions, going into detail on the technology behind 3D printers for metal alloys and their use in the manufacturing industry, to Eng. Giovanni Pioli of Rubinetterie Bresciane and Ivano Corsini of 3D4MEC
After 3D4STEEL and 3D4BRASS are you planning to expand your technology to other specific metals?
Corsini – As for 3D4STEEL, at the moment we are expanding the list of processable steels. Let me explain better, we are testing new steel powders, according to specific customer requests, determining the correct printing parameters. To date, our customers have access to the printing parameters for steel 316L stainless steel (cosmetic, medical, food, nautical and naval applications), C67 (Tempering steel for harmonic applications such as industrial springs), F53 SuperDuplex (stainless steel ideal for maritime applications given its resistance to corrosion and oil & gas), H13 (hard steel ideal for tooling and tooling construction), 304L (similar to 316, less valuable but with a wide range of applications), 17-4 PH (stainless steel with increased mechanical properties, already used in the defense and oil & gas sectors), M300 (low Ti – Maraging steel ideal for the construction of molds and tooling). At the moment we are also working on two special alloys indicated for military use. For convenience we can say that the 3D4STEEL system, to date, can process steels with carbon less than 0.77%.
For 3D4BRASS in addition to the CW510 brass already available, we are moving on the CW511 for the American market, theECO-BRASS and the Bronze. Let’s say the system can process low lead copper based alloys. We have recently received requests for the development of process parameters for two special copper-based alloys, for which we are looking for a supplier of the raw material (powder with specific characteristics).
Are you already in contact with any other companies that have launched a “challenge” similar to that of Rubinetterie Bresciane Bonomi?
Corsini – The caliber of the challenge launched by Bonomi not yet. With Rubinetterie Bresciane Bonomi we went into unknown and very inaccessible terrains. I would never say never, though. Of course, the challenges do not scare us, the important thing is to find the right client who is motivated to undertake a difficult and fascinating path, and the supplier of the material able to satisfy our technical / production requests. For the rest I can say that I am lucky to have a TEAM of fantastic collaborators: the merit of these goals is all theirs.
Could you briefly explain to us the technical side of your printers with metal additive technology using a “non-expert” terminology?
Corsini – Our system, entirely made and designed in Italyallows a unique production flexibility, thanks also to the possibility of research on special materials, usually neglected by the big brands.
Our printers, customized on the specific needs of each individual customer, guarantee the use of any powder on the market and / or developable for AM. The 3D4MEC system works with PBF technology (Powder Bed Fusion). It starts from a 3D file (STEP) optimized according to the rules of Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) to ensure that only the strictly necessary material is used and costs are reduced. Subsequently we proceed with the laying on the table and the arrangement on the printing plate with the aim of optimizing production and any post-processing. Once the file has been loaded into the machine, the printer produces the component layer by layer, going, with the laser beam, to solidify the material (powder) only in strategic points, following the geometry of the piece, without any waste of material and with details. even 30µm (but it can also drop below 30µm).
Once the component has been printed, all that remains is to remove it from the supports and apply the appropriate post-processing, such as shot blasting or other treatments, to obtain components that are fully functional and ready to be assembled in the machine or sold. While carrying out these post-production jobs, our printer has already automatically recovered the dust not used in the previous print and can already start a new print cycle, streamlining the production flow.
Ingegner Pioli, as regards Rubinetterie Bresciane, are you still in the testing phase or have you already fielded the operation of the 3D4BRASS printer from a commercial point of view? If so, when do you plan to become fully active with offering brass prototypes to customers?
Pegs – The first project is now underway in which the printer will be used to create an ad hoc technical solution that will be evaluated both internally and directly at the customer.
Are you already studying other ideas to revolutionize the sector from a technological point of view? We imagine the 3D4BRASS is just the first step.
Pegs – Indeed, yes, new alloys are being studied to be used always with the same printer, in order to expand the possibilities of use.