by NICOLA CATENARO
The series of exclusive interviews of our portal on the future of composites continues. Today it is the turn of Alessio Lorusso, founder and CEO of Roboze, an Italian company (also based in the United States) that designs and manufactures 3D printers and composite / superpolymer materials.
3D printing and composite materials: is this a winning combination? If so, why?
«3D printing/composite materials is absolutely a winning combination from various points of view. The FFF additive manufacturing technology, as we know, allows companies to obtain finished parts or moulds, reducing costs and time compared to traditional methods. The use of composite materials also allows for excellent mechanical performance, without losing the flexibility typical of the 3D printing process».
From a purely economic point of view, what are the advantages of 3D printing solutions combined with the world of polymers and composites?
«Economically speaking, this combination can affect several stages of the production chain, from design to the production of finished parts, up to the advantages offered by weight reduction. The most striking cases are seen in the aviation industry.
A successful case study Leonardo Aerostructures. The application investigated concerns the replacement of traditional metal moulds with polymeric elements (Roboze Carbon PA and Carbon PEEK) for the production of struts and beam joints for the assembly of the keel frame of an airliner. The results obtained see a reduction in lead time from 3 weeks to just over a day, a weight reduction of 78% and a reduction in costs of 35%».
The market indicators globally show an increasing demand for composite materials. However, these are not very recent materials… Why are composites still in such demand?
«I believe the reasons are linked to the volatility of the raw materials market, the performance of the parts produced and increasing attention to consumption and emissions. Nowadays, this last point is of paramount importance for companies and organizations around the world. The density of polymers is very low, generally at least half that of metals, being between 0.9 and 1.5 g / cm3. For example, PEEK is 84% lighter than SS316 and 52% lighter than 6063 aluminum. For flying vehicles, it is convenient to reduce weight, since every kilo saved can lead to a reduction of 73 tons of CO2 per year».
In which sector, in your opinion, 3D printing and composite materials will have the most potential for growth in the short and medium term?
«In the short term, we see the aerospace and mobility industry at the forefront of integrating 3D printing and polymeric and composite materials to replace metals in their processes. In the medium term, through massive investments in R&D of new materials or circular economy models, in Roboze we are supporting the sustainable energy transition, in the Energy sector».
In the future, will we be able to make our own customized car directly at home thanks to 3D printing?
«I don’t’ think so. Let's dispel a myth: 3D printing in the industrial field is a production method. We see an increase in customized vehicles, produced with innovative materials and based on the needs of each individual consumer, definitely yes!».
Alessio Lorusso, Roboze's founder and CEO, included in the Forbes 30 under 30 list 2018 as one of the most talented 30 European managers in the “Industry” category, is an entrepreneur and visionary in the field of Additive Manufacturing. His vision is to reshape the manufacturing industry around the world with high-tech 3D printing solutions aimed at promoting the acceleration of Industry 4.0 with on-demand and just-in-time metal replacement materials for use in the most extreme conditions and industries.
13 September 2022