In September 2016 the Footwear Polytechnic of Riviera del Brenta, an institute of excellence in the footwear industry, launched FFlab – a digital laboratory specializing on new 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies. The Polytechnic carries on traditional knowledge and widens research. It invested in a rapid prototyping laboratory and in the emerging FFLab to offer companies new product development opportunities.
3D printing allows companies to shorten design and development time at reasonable costs for the aesthetic model, the functional model and small production series for sampling. In shoes, for example, components prototyping handles parts that make up the shoe such as forms, insoles, heels, soles and accessories. “All can be realized in reduced times,” says Alice Marcato, bio-engineer of the R&D department and manager of FFLab.
In the laboratory of the Polytechnic, footwear components are designed in an electronic format with the 3D CAD technology and then printed in 3D with the 3D printer German RepRap x400 PRO V3, provided by 3DZ. The other method used is reverse engineering, which uses a 3D scan to build a physical model, which is then converted into a CAD file, ready to be edited as needed and then printed. These new technologies allow the Footwear Polytechnic to meet the demands and needs of the companies that cater to the institute.
Veneto specializes in designing and manufacturing quality products, but often does not have the technology, equipment and internal professional skills that allow companies to be competitive by reducing production and of industrialization times and costs.
The use of scanning and 3D printing technologies enables companies to create structures, accessories and other components, with greater precision, impossible to realize with their other equipment. Users can directly provide the STL file or provide the physical object, such as a shape, which can be scanned, rebuilt in 3D and modified as needed. It will be then printed in 3D with the given material.
Regarding the future development of 3D printing the FFLab manager says: “3D printing will move from mere prototyping of parts to complex design, from development to production; companies will probably exploit these technologies to its own production of components, especially thanks to the release of new materials, more resistant and sought selected, and the increasing reduction of production times.”
3DZ supported the School with the choice of the most appropriate technology for its needs: in this case, the 3D printer German RepRap x400 and 3D scanner Geomagic Capture. “We have turned to 3DZ for the prior knowledge of the capabilities of this company, the equipment quality, the availability and excellent service. Thanks to their on-site training, two people of the staff have been instructed about the proper use of the new equipment,” summarizes Alice Marcato.
German RepRap GmbH