THE FUTURE OF COMPOSITES

«New products and processes in the future of composites»

Interview with Franco Cevolini, CEO and CTO, CRP Technology CRP Meccanica

by NICOLA CATENARO

Franco Cevolini, in which direction is the future of composites moving? New products or new processes?
«Both, because composites offer performances that traditional materials do not guarantee. I expect new products and improved versions of existing ones, but also new players who will use composites. Their use has always been penalized by fairly high costs. I hope that the trend will be reversed thanks also to new processes that may affect the transformation costs».

Automotive, Marine, Aerospace, Construction, Industrial: which sectors will need composites the most?
«Certainly, Automotive and Marine: the “green transformation” that the Automotive sector is undergoing and towards which the Marine is heading, requires materials and new transformation processes. In that sense, Additive Manufacturing and its composites can make the difference: the appropriate 3D printing technology combined with the most suitable composite, allows increased freedom in the design that enhances the efficiency of time to market, allowing to achieve greater performance. The Aerospace sector is distinguishing by the increasing production and launch of nanosatellites, which represent an ever more viable solution to reach the space. Many microsatellites and deployer systems’ manufacturers are already using composite materials and 3D printing to build space-ready structures, frames and components, and the trend is increasing».

Will composites be replaced by other materials in the industry sectors in which they are currently used?
«I do not think so. I foresee the replacement only in case of an improved version of the same composite».

Why is 3D printing important and how will it evolve in the next years?
«We have been in the world of professional 3D printing for almost 30 years; we were among first to bring selective laser sintering - a powder 3D printing process - to Italy and we created the first polyamide-based, composite material Carbon fiber reinforced for this technology: we have therefore experienced all the evolutionary process of the sector! 3D printing is important because it was born as a prototype technology, that is to make prototypes in a short time, and it soon evolved into a production technology. In the next few years it will go towards an increase in the productivity of 3D printers, and manufacturers will try to create 3D printers equipped to build objects of ever larger dimensions. Certainly new materials will be created and new fields of application will be sought».

Biocomposites or the recycling of end-of-life composites: in which of these fields is not enough done yet?
«There is a quite good margin of operation in both. An interesting topic is the reuse of composite material through different manufacturing processes. For example, a material for selective laser sintering technology could be recycled and adjusted for injection molding or FDM 3D printing. Theoretically and technically this is already feasible: some composite materials for additive manufacturing, by virtue of the fact that they are thermoplastic, can be substantially re-melted to be re-used with an injection molding machine. But the costs of the recover process are still very high, prohibitive. There is a lack of both incentives and funds; if they were available, “virtuous routes” for the recovery of materials could be created between companies that mold plastics and companies that, like ours, create thermoplastic composites for 3D printing».

WHO IS

After the degree in Materials Engineering, University of Modena, Franco Cevolini established in 1996 CRP Technology as a spin-off of CRP Meccanica (former Roberto Cevolini & Company). CRP Technology was one of the first entrepreneurial companies for Additive Manufacturing with composite materials in Italy and Europe.

In 1999 he pioneered integrated engineering development, rapid prototyping and 3D Printing processes creating a new family of high-performance materials: the Windform® composite materials for Additive Manufacturing.

In the following years CRP Technology became one of the leader in the production of 3D Printing composite materials and Professional 3D Printing service.

In 2011 he is involved in the creation and technological development of Energica, the first high-performance electric motorcycle.

Today Franco Cevolini is CEO and Technical Director of CRP Meccanica and CRP Technology. He is personally involved in the R&D Department of both CRP Meccanica and CRP Technology, in addition to CRP Technology’s 3D Printing Department and CRP Meccanica’s CNC Machining Department.
He is President of Energica Motor Company.

In the photo: Franco Cevolini at the official launch of Energica Motor Company S.p.A. on AIM Italia – Alternative Investment Market (Mercato Alternativo del Capitale), a multilateral trading facility, organized and managed by Borsa Italiana S.p.A.

 

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