Expanding production with carbon fiber additive manufacturing.
At its production site, Due Pi Greco has a dedicated 200 square meter additive manufacturing area featuring four FDM 3D printers, which strengthen the company’s prototyping capabilities and enable the team to undertake series production jobs unachievable with traditional methods.
Most recently, the company was faced with the challenge of meeting a specific customer’s need for functional production parts made from materials possessing superior structural performance and reliability. To meet the need, the management team invested in production-grade additive manufacturing. Having tested a number of technologies, the company approached Stratasys’ local partner, Energy Group, to purchase a Fortus 380mc™ Carbon Fiber Edition (CFE). Key to the decision was FDM® Nylon 12CF – an advanced composite material comprising 35 percent chopped carbon fiber. Not only did the material properties meet the customer’s high part-performance demands, it also allowed Due Pi Greco to expand its production capability and take on more jobs.
“Fortus 3D printers have always been reliable workhorses for us, but we decided to invest in the Carbon Fiber Edition, as we found it the best alternative to CNC machining expensive metal parts,” said Pagnan. “The added capabilities have made an immediate impact on our production process. Using FDM Nylon 12 carbon fiber, we’re able to 3D print parts that perform similar to those produced using CNC processes. This not only saves us significant time and cost compared to conventional production methods, but the quality of the parts has made a huge impression on our customers too and subsequently opened up new business opportunities for us.”
These benefits were exemplified in a collaborative project with Università degli Studi di Padova (University of Padua), to design and produce an engine airbox for a single-seat Formula SAE race car. The company overcame the lengthy lead times and high costs of conventional carbon fiber production by 3Dprinting the entire airbox in FDM Nylon 12CF, achieving significant cost and time savings. The speed that the team could 3D print the part was crucial in enabling them to iterate the design for optimal performance. This was also evident in another project for a leading Italian cycling brand in which the team used the Fortus 380mc CFE to optimize the design and production of a high-end bicycle seat. According to Pagnan, the customer reported that the result exceeded expectations in terms of surface finish and durability.
“The greatest challenge for today’s design and manufacturing specialists is to deliver high-quality, top-performing solutions within strict deadlines and restricted budget. Both of these use cases are prime examples of how Stratasys FDM additive manufacturing has enabled us to tackle this challenge head on. Furthermore, the actual end results are also outstanding – in particular, the surface finish – which is exactly the type of added value our customers are looking for,” he added.