Florenradica is a design company based near Florence, Italy, who fabricate prototypes and end-use parts for fashion houses. A wide range of clients means a varied product portfolio, including bags, shoes, heels, buttons, jewelry accessories, and more.
With a long background of traditional woodworking, the firm found it challenging to deliver the fashion industry's high order volumes. They decided to explore new fabrication methods that would reduce physical labor, while maintaining high levels of detail and quality in the final product.
Moving from traditional to digital manufacturing
After discovering 3D printing online, Florenradica were interested in exploring it further, as it allowed them to realize products that were not possible with CNC machines. With extreme detail and printing times of between six and 60 hours, printers that were reliable and produced consistent results were needed. Initially, Florenradica had tried several brands of budget FFF 3D printers, but each printer required a great deal of maintenance and experimentation to get reliable results.
They then turned to Ultimaker, investing in an Ultimaker 2, and finding the results to be significantly more accurate and reliable. In the following years, they expanded their setup with a further 27 Ultimaker 2+, 13 Ultimaker 3, and two Ultimaker S5 printers, arranged into a production workfloor.
Marco Mazzanti, Production Coordinator of Florenradica, explains “with 3D printers, we've reached a situation that allowed us to realize objects not possible until that moment.”
We do a lot of experimentation and evaluate many systems before embarking on a production choice. Ultimaker printers best suit our features: reliability, good print quality, and dual extrusion.
Each item at Florenradica is designed in-house by a team of designers using CAD software. Items are prepared for print using Ultimaker Cura and sent to a printer. As each Ultimaker printer is certified for safe unattended professional use, production is able to run reliably 24/7.
Choosing the right material
Material choice is an important factor in the design process, not only for each part's technical characteristics but to ensure the print process is reliable. Designs often have a complex geometry which requires support material, as well as post-processing and painting. Florenradica had experimented with different plastics, such as HIPS and PLA from various vendors, but were not satisfied with the results.
Switching to Ultimaker PLA gave Florenradica more reliable results, and meant they could work with dissolvable PVA support material, for easy post-processing. With their setup running at full capacity, Florenradica uses 60 kg of PLA per month.
After printing, each item is collected from the printer, and any support material is dissolved in a bath of lukewarm water, leaving a clean surface finish. Items are then finished by sanding, priming, and spraying with a final color, after which they are gloss painted and varnished.
While not leaving behind traditional woodworking entirely, Ultimaker 3D printing now accounts for 40% of Florenradica’s total sales. Ultimaker 3D printing is used for 95% of end-use parts and for 5% of prototypes. Using a workfloor of 3D printers means Florenradica is now able to print dozens of varied prototypes simultaneously, and at least a hundred different items per day. This gives them greater flexibility with an iterative design process, with more predictable lead times.
With the recent addition of the Ultimaker S5 to their workfloor, they have even greater flexibility: the larger build volume means items that previously had to be divided and printed in sections can now be printed in a single piece.
FFF technology has given us a guarantee about the duration our articles will take to produce; orders have increased a lot, so we just bought our 50th Ultimaker 3D printer in June 2018!
Using a group of Ultimaker printers together can help your business meet demand and improve your bottom line. Find out how you can manage multiple 3D printers efficiently with Cura Connect.