Like many businesses, Marchesini Group began using additive manufacturing (AM) for prototyping. The company bought their first printer, a Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) machine, for this purpose in 2003. As their AM production expanded, they introduced Stereolithography and metal machines. Over time, their team fully embraced AM as a central part of their production, and in 2018, they became Materialise software customers. Today, they have a total of fifteen 3D printers that operate 21 hours each day, including over the weekends, for plastic parts and about 8 hours per day for metal parts.
Marchesini Group’s additive manufacturing department prints parts that can be mounted in packaging machines to customize them for their clients. Because their clients come from a variety of regulated sectors Marchesini Group’s packaging machinery faces a challenge in addressing each sector’s different regulatory requirements. These requirements apply to areas such as quality and material contamination.
In order to best meet both internal and external clients’ demands, Marchesini Group found it most beneficial for their additive manufacturing and R&D teams to collaborate to design each part from scratch. This way, they design for AM to leverage the technology’s near limitless freedom of design.
Once Marchesini Group scaled up their AM operations, they found too much time was spent on the manual removal of support structures — specifically for metal parts. The tool they were using created effective support structures, but the team needed a solution that could better automate the process.
Next, they needed to boost production efficiency, specifically by reducing time spent generating and removing support structures. As Materialise Magics is compatible with most technologies and materials, the Marchesini Group team could use just one tool to manage all their Stereolithography (SLA) and Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) machines.
To become more efficient, Marchesini Group began using Materialise e-Stage for Resin for Stereolithography and e-Stage for Metal. Both e-Stage options allow impressive time savings during build preparation, thanks to its automated processes, and post-processing, thanks to optimized support shapes. Plus, the needle-thin points that connect the support to the part mean that they can be removed quickly and easily — enhancing the final part quality.
“It’s impossible to prepare a job faster,” says Mirko Fortunati, AM Operations Coordinator at Marchesini Group. “We are very happy with e-Stage for Resin. It doesn’t matter if there are 3 or 50 parts, you just hit a button, and e-Stage does its job instantly generating supports. This performance and productivity is crucial for us because we have other departments relying on us to get them high-quality parts with speed.”
After introducing e-Stage into their build preparation workflow, Marchesini Group can automate support generation in just a couple of minutes. This is a huge improvement over what used to be 10-30 minutes of manual work to generate supports. With these time savings, Marchesini Group can print in metal and Stereolithography 30% faster than before. Plus, the unique shape of the supports and the simplified process of removing them result in a better quality part.
By working with one software suite, their AM team can combine classic structures with e-Stage for Metal’s supports for maximum efficiency. Where previously they had to spend extra time adding in support types or switching between machines, now they can rely on just one software suite to greatly accelerate the job. This also can easily enable them to scale up even more, seamlessly introducing new machines and technologies into their AM environment.
It’s impossible to prepare a job faster. We are very happy with e-Stage for Resin. It doesn’t matter if there are 3 or 50 parts, e-Stage just does its job.”
– Mirko Fortunati, AM Operations Coordinator, Marchesini Group
In addition to increased efficiency and performance thanks to additive manufacturing, Marchesini Group is exploring the possibility of redesigning parts for older machines with 3D printing. The company expects to buy more 3D printers in the future and to use other materials, for example, aluminum, and new technologies like SLS. They closely follow the latest 3D printing technology developments so that they are ready to adapt each promising new advance to their business as soon as they become available.