Breaking the mold to improve customer service.
Around three years ago, Rolleri evaluated its technological capabilities to identify ways to innovate and find solutions to shifting customer requirements. In a bid to future-proof its technology offering, the company focused on additive manufacturing. With a need to produce robust parts with complex geometries, Rolleri tested a number of additive manufacturing technologies, measuring part quality, reliability and repeatability. The team singled out Stratasys’ FDM®-based Fortus 3D printer as the solution of choice, purchasing the system via Stratasys’ local partner, Energy Group.
Once installed, the Fortus was immediately put to work and running two shifts every day. It is now a staple workhorse serving the needs of both the production floor and the R&D department. One of its main applications is production of mold insert prototypes for tools designed to form complex metal sheets. Made with tough polycarbonate thermoplastics – Stratasys’ PC and PC ISO™ – the 3D printed mold inserts are highly durable, enabling Rolleri to test their functionality in timeframes not previously achievable with its traditional suppliers.
“Integrating FDM additive manufacturing into our mold tool production process has drastically reduced our lead times from three to four weeks to just two or three days,” Marzaroli explains. “Importantly, this enables us to accelerate the testing process and find the optimum tool for our customers much faster. Should any late design changes to the final tool be required, we can do so quickly and cost-effectively before our customers commit to the costly manufacture of the final aluminum tool. From a cost-perspective, we have made savings of around 30% on every order compared to developing the same item with traditional methods, which has increased our profit margins.”
The Fortus 3D printer also helps Rolleri overcome the traditional constraints of producing mold tools with complex geometries. “Whether it’s standard v-die press brake tooling or custom metal form tooling with complex geometries, such as flares, offsets and ribs, we have been able to offer 3D printed polycarbonate alternatives to traditional metal tools, which was previously unthinkable in this industry,” Marzaroli explains. “We have proved the viability of tough 3D printed thermoplastics as a cost-effective and profitable solution to many of the challenges we face with traditional tool production.
“We are no longer forced to decline orders due to capacity limitations as we now have the capability and bandwidth to accept each of them and deliver them within shorter lead times. Overall, it’s just much easier for us to create and test new tool designs for customers, which has enabled us to increase our product portfolio by 4-5%,” he adds.