By Melissa Donovan
3D printing technologies are ideal in the manufacturing space for a number of reasons, but efficiency seems to be the number one factor. When businesses implement 3D printing, lead times decrease from inception to product completion.
Smaller runs or customized parts are created quickly because of the lower cost of production. Quality is still an essential element, however, especially as 3D printers are used in the production of finished parts and not just prototypes. The recent advancements in additive manufacturing technology make this possible.
Above: In 2018, Biesse looked to HP to speed up the prototyping process and even use 3D printing for final parts production with its JP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer.
The Biesse Group is a manufacturer based in Pesaro, Italy since 1969. It offers modular solutions for furniture manufacturers to individual automatic machines and workstations for small and medium enterprises. 4,000 employees are found throughout its main production facilities and offices—globally.
One of its subsidiaries, Biesse, manufactures and markets solutions and technologies for the wood industry including furniture, windows, and other wood components. It also recently expanded into plastic processing machines with solutions catering to this specific market.
A business unit within this Biesse subsidiary is dedicated to manufacturing machines that enable edge banding, which is the application of plastic or wood to the edges of furniture. “As you can imagine, our machines must support a diverse set of assembly needs. To support them, we need to create a range of highly customized parts and tools,” explains Marco Mencarini, technical and prototype manager, Biesse.
The type of machines produced by Biesse include small, semi-automatic devices for a range of applications all the way to larger, automated bespoke versions for specific use cases. Multiple configurations and accessories assist with square and round corner edge banding. Additional variables include methods of adhesion, from glue to a system that uses compressed hot air to bond the material to the intended surface.
With so many moving parts and differences between machines, customization is a large part of the manufacturing process. In the 1990s, Biesse implemented 3D printing for rapid prototyping of many of these pieces. However, as technology advanced, it looked to leverage newer machines to solve certain challenges. “We needed help in bridging the lead time gap of making metal molds and hoped to produce final parts, especially in short runs that would be impossible to profitably manufacture otherwise,” shares Mencarini.
In 2018, it looked to HP Inc. to speed up the prototyping process and even use 3D printing for final parts production with its HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer. Biesse learned about the printer through Selltek, an authorized HP reseller in Italy. Powered by HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, the printer is complemented by the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Processing Station with Fast Cooling, HP Jet Fusion 3D Build Unit, and HP Jet Fusion 3D External Tank.
The printer satisfies a variety of Biesse’s goals including solving time issues, simplifying processes, and tearing down design barriers, according to Mencarini. One important need was increasing efficiency when it came to the creation of functional prototypes of the machines’ various mechanical components like piston rods, gear wheels, and joints.
For example, a gear box originally required multiple manufacturing technologies including injection molding and CNC machining. Biesse engineers took the gear box and optimized its geometry in ways that couldn’t be accomplished with subtractive technologies, creating a more efficient part that was less expensive to manufacture.
The engineers then compared the steps involved in creating the gear box using the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer with other technologies. It took less time to produce the newly designed gear box with 3D printing than it would to set up and calibrate for CNC machining and create metal molds for injection molding.
For plastic parts, compared to using HP Multi Jet Fusion technology, CNC’s cost triples to 300 percent. Injection modeling in the first year has a cost of 700 percent, but in the second year decreases to 20 percent. Lead times are also staggeringly different based on Biesse’s comparison between additive and subtractive technologies. HP Multi Jet Fusion technology’s lead time is one day, CNC is 20 days, and injection molding 90 days.
Freedom to Manufacture
Biesse reduced lead times in the creation and improvement of its products. With the HP Jet Fusion 3D 4200 Printer, the engineers beta test a series of parts in hours instead of weeks. Another benefit, the lower cost of production allows for the creation of customized parts for specific applications. Lastly, the company is no longer restricted by traditional shapes and can design with a new level of complexity.
“It’s been six months since we started using HP’s newest technology and we are gaining powerful new insights every day enabling us to optimize our designs and adapt them for additive manufacturing. HP’s new 3D printing solution represents a whole new technology dimension for us, with limitless possibilities to explore,” says Mencarini.
Nov2018, Industrial Print Magazine