Following 50 years in the field of precision mechanics, Italian firm ZARE Prototyping became an independent rapid prototyping service provider back in 2009. Now with an array of machines for metal sintering and building large monolithic prototypes, the company boasts dedicated post-processing, prototype finishing, medical and dental model services, and reverse engineering for international markets.
According to Stratasys, their 3D printing and additive manufacturing solutions have helped ZARE to halve production costs for direct manufacturing customers in automotive and aerospace since the company invested in a fleet of Stratasys Fortus 3D Production Systems.
ZARE had already been well known for using Stratasys PolyJet and FDM 3D printing for prototyping applications, but now with the Fortus 3D Production Systems, the company has expanded into the full spectrum of traditional manufacturing applications such as injection molding, tooling, and the production of final parts.
Andrea Pasquali, the R&D Manager of ZARE, says use of the technology has really given them an advantage.
“After a steady decline in traditional manufacturing business, the introduction of Stratasys Fortus FDM technology has given us a significant edge over our competition and has enabled us to reduce manufacturing costs for our aerospace and automotive customers by 50 percent,” says Pasquali. “This has been key to revitalising our direct manufacturing business, as we can quickly produce durable end-use parts for our customers in the final material. We have seen a substantial reduction in iteration costs and turnaround times, and we have reduced the cost per final part by around 30 percent.”
According to Pasquali, the operations of one customer alone benefited from a process which tested a 3D printed prototype for an aerospace pipe produced in high performance ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic material.
“With the material’s high strength-to-weight ratio and FST (flame, smoke and toxicity) rating, we quickly realized that we could go beyond functional prototype testing and actually manufacture final-parts that match the strength of metal,” he says. “By replacing metal-manufactured parts with high performance thermoplastics, our customers can meet a vital requirement of aircraft manufacturing by reducing overall weight, while maintaining production quality and adhering to passenger safety requirements.”
Pasquali says aerospace clients weren’t the only manufacturers to feel the impact of additive manufacturing services, prototyping and direct manufacturing. Those two market sectors now account for nearly half of ZARE’s operations, and they attribute that to the advanced 3D printing materials available from Stratasys.
“The wide range of materials at our disposal enables us to select characteristics that match those of traditional manufactured parts at a fraction of the weight and cost. For example, leveraging its high UV-stability, we now manufacture car bumpers in ASA and headlights in PC-ABS, which combines both the superior strength and heat resistance of PC and the flexibility of ABS,” Pasquali said.
Davide Ferrulli, the Italian Territory Manager for Stratasys, says the experience of companies like ZARE demonstrates the fast and cost-effective way to improve traditional manufacturing processes.
“With our materials advancing, customers are finding that they can build more parts than ever before with parallel strength and durability to those traditionally manufactured,” Ferrulli says.