Though big industrial sectors like aerospace, automotive and medical are often the focus for additive manufacturing applications, the technology is finding its way into countless industries, sometimes radically transforming, sometimes slightly improving production workflows. The latest comes from the hosiery sector, where Italy-based hosiery equipment producer Lonati SPA has adopted 3D Systems’ AM solutions to streamline its workflow.
Specifically, Lonati has integrated 3D Systems’ ProX SLS 6100 and Figure 4 Standalone 3D printers to drive innovation at its machine production facility as well as improve time-to-market and reduce production costs (by as much as 50%).
Headquartered in Brescia, Lonati is a leading manufacturer of machines for the hosiery and textile industries. Founded over 70 years ago, the company is today worth €150 million and produces roughly 8,000 machines a year for customers in 60 countries.
Because Lonati’s machines are designed for working with fragile materials and fabrics, they require extremely precise parts with very thin walls. The machine components must also be able to function at rapid speeds and under high pneumatic pressures.
“We work in a highly competitive global market,” explained Marco Gavazzi, senior R&D designer at Lonati. “To remain an industry leader, we are constantly searching for new ways to deliver the best products possible. The machinery we produce undergoes highly-pressured pneumatics and we need to produce parts with the highest standard of mechanical properties to withstand these stresses. After multiple tests against similar products, we found the best results using 3D Systems’ solutions.”
At its facility, Lonati is now using 3D Systems’ ProX SLS 6100 system to prototype machine parts and to produce jigs and fixtures. Final parts are being produced using a combination of the ProX SLS 6100 and the Figure 4 Standalone systems using DuraForm ProX AF+ and Figure 4 TOUGH-GRY 10, which are providing the strength needed. As mentioned, the adoption of additive manufacturing has enabled the company to reduce part production costs by as much as 50%.
“Using 3D Systems’ solutions as part of our product development cycle, we are realizing tremendous efficiencies,” added Michele Faini, a designer at Lonati. “We initially purchased one 3D printer to produce one component for our machinery. However, because of the results we’re seeing, we have not only expanded to additional printers and materials, but also are creating more parts and assemblies. We’re fortunate to have partners like 3D Systems and 3DZ who are providing unparalleled applications expertise and support.”
Matteo Marcellini, Channel Manager at 3D Systems, concluded: “Lonati is a leading innovator in their category. The way they have incorporated additive technologies into their production workflow and the results they are realizing provides compelling proof that 3D printing technology can meet high quality standards with improved efficiencies—all at a reduced cost. I’m inspired by our collaboration, and look forward to helping Lonati continue to expand AM’s role in its business.”