This interview with Namitech was originally published in the 3dpbm AM Focus eBook on 3D Printing Services.
Namitech is one of the most interesting young companies in the Italian additive manufacturing scene. Founded in 2017, this young AM service provider is located near Bergamo, the beating heart of industrial manufacturing in one of the richest economic development areas in the world. Namitech immediately stood out for its ability to closely work with customers on their product development and industrial production processes, through the use and resale of some of the best 3D printing systems on the market.
Andrea Invernizzi, Matteo Gelpi and Francesco Giumelli, Namitech’s three founding partners, set out to help companies strategically increase productivity, ready themselves for the “fourth industrial revolution” and gradually adapt to the great changes that the manufacturing industry will experience in the near future.
In this mission, the company demonstrates how it is now possible to enter the high-end 3D printing market one step at a time, capitalizing on the results obtained along the way. Namitech immediately identified Prodways, the most prominent French manufacturer of industrial 3D printing systems, as an ideal partner for laser sintering technology.
Like a Promaker
While searching for a printer that offered industrial performance at an affordable price, the company opted for the Promaker P1000; the first byproduct of Prodways’ acquisition of English/Italian startup Norge Systems. It is a reliable and mature machine, entirely developed and built in France, which has been on the market since 2016. The choice proved ideal.
“We immediately understood that it would not disappoint us and so it was: after eight months from the first installation we ordered the second printer,” says Francesco Giumelli, one of Namitech’s founders. “The generous print volume certainly contributed to our choice as well as the ability to work with open and customizable printing parameters, which is fundamental for our business. This allows us to further raise the quality of our work, for example by breaking down the barrier by +/- 0.3% accuracy to reach +/- 0.1 %.”
The extremely flexible Prodways SLS systems support up to 12 materials on a single machine. Namitech has already included five in its portfolio: Nylon 12, Nylon 11 GF, PP-polypropylene, TPU 70 ShoreA and PA6. Today, Namitech runs three Prodways printers: two P1000 units and one gigantic P4500 HT, one of the largest high-performance SLS systems on the market. The next scheduled purchase will be the new P1000X, doubling the production speed compared to the P1000.
The accessories available are also fundamental. “We purchased interchangeable trolleys to ensure 24/7 production for our printers, and insulating boxes for the external cooling (cool down) of the builds produced,” continues Francesco. “The extreme ease of cleaning the breakout station and the mixer allows us to quickly change material, not only on the printer but in our entire production process.”
One of the most interesting aspects of Namitech’s experience is the company’s ability to develop a sustainable business model even in the face of significant initial investments. Like all industrial machinery, even 3D printers depreciate during their lifetime; purchases of these machines, however, are supported and encouraged by the Italian Government’s Industry 4.0 plan, which has provided super and hyper-amortization incentives in past years and tax credits for 2020.
Direct collaboration with an important company such as Prodways also carries significant advantages. “We know we can rely on a serious and structured partner, with a vision of growth and global product marketing, but at the same time we are able to provide personal and dedicated support and assistance to our clients,” says Francesco.
From Pro-totyping to Pro-duction
The concept of “rapid prototyping without equipment costs” is now being expanded and extended to industrial production thanks to additive manufacturing and digital production. This can only be achieved through reliable and sustainable machines and with the adoption of new materials suitable for multiple applications. “Every industrial sector has come into contact with additive manufacturing, but certainly the automotive and electrical components segments were among the first to understand its benefits,” explains Francesco.
In order to reach clients, it is important to stand out from competitors. “The trend in recent years of other service providers has been to move towards an offer with online quotes, limited technology choices, chasing low prices, often at the expense of long delivery times and poor consultancy services, not to mention the issue of safeguarding customer-owned 3D mathematics,” Francesco continues. “Our strengths are exactly the opposite. We have set up dedicated project managers with whom our customers can interface daily, we know how to combine the use of multiple technologies and services to obtain the best final result. And timing is often very stringent (sometimes just one day is enough). Usually we are contacted by medium and large companies that are looking not only for a supplier to print prototypes, but a full production partner with whom they can cooperate daily for the development of their products. These characteristics have allowed us to grow exponentially in the past three years.”
Namitech’s work does not stop there. The company now offers services that go beyond 3D printing. These include a series of customized services that allow clients to receive a unique finished product, through finishing treatments, painting, aesthetic metallization or structural metal plating. For pre-series and limited edition series, Namitech can offer a wide range of available materials and guarantee customization of the printing parameters. This means that each customer can benefit from a set of specific instructions for each production batch and future reordering options.
Components for BMW G310 T prototype by IED
Automotive was among the first industries to understand and exploit the potential of 3D printing: a technology that now plays a key role in the production of prototypes, limited series productions, spare or discontinued parts as well as custom tools. As part of the final thesis project for the Product Design Master at the European Institute of Design (IED) in Milan – titled “BMW Motorrad 2.0” – Namitech was selected as partner for the realization of high-tech components for a BMW G 310 T prototype. Thanks to the Open Material strategy of its Prodways SLS machines – which allows it to choose from 10 supported materials – the firm was able to produce all the required plastic components with a single printer, satisfying all different thermal, mechanical and aesthetic requirements. Furthermore, Namitech’s customized finishing, painting and aesthetic metallization services provided the customer with a unique and fully finished product.
Gripper E.DO for Comau
Comau, a world leader in the field of industrial automation, is the creator of e.DO, the modular, articulated multi-axis robot with integrated open-source intelligence designed to make learning, creation, exploration and programming more interactive and fun. For this project, Namitech produced the e.DO gripper, which is a special gripper designed to be installed on the wrist of the e.DO Robot. Thanks to the customizable printing parameters of its Prodways printers, the Namitech team was able to guarantee an accuracy level of +\- 0.1mm, greatly improving the guaranteed normal tolerance of +\- 0.3mm, thus ensuring the correct operation and movement between the various components of the gripper. In addition, thanks to the extremely high productivity of its SLS systems, as many as 180 complete gripper kits were produced daily.