Italian design company Florenradica use Ultimaker 3D printers to fabricate prototypes and end-use parts for fashion houses. Their unique position in the market means they have an illustrious list of clients, who require a wide range of parts to manufacture their own products.
Traditionally, the firm has a background in woodworking and continues to fabricate parts for bags, shoes, heels and many other products in this way and with CNC machining. But the introduction of 3D printing has revolutionised their approach to fabrication and opened up a new world of possibilities.
Crucially, with 3D printing they have a way to meet exceptional demand without the physical labour. This is an important point for high-volume manufacturers like Florenradica – traditional manufacturing methods are exceptionally time-consuming and expensive. The cost goes down the larger the batch, but the reality is in a custom industry like this the batches are never large enough. This is why Florenradica began to explore new fabrication methods.
3D Printing for fashion
Florenradica extensively researched the 3D printing market before deciding on Fused Filament Fabrication technology. It offered them the best cost-quality ratio. Their brand of choice was Ultimaker, who manufacture some of the best desktop 3D printers on the market. They started out with the Ultimaker 2.
“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.”
“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!”
The team have upgraded their 3D printers over time as new models come out. They now have a workshop of 27 Ultimaker 2+, 13 Ultimaker 3, and two Ultimaker S5 printers. That makes a total of 43 printers, which the team have arranged into a production floor (see photo above). The setup works exceedingly well for them, allowing them to manufacture numerous prototype iterations in one day. This has reduced development time considerably.
Everything is manufactured locally. The team start by using CAD software to draw their parts. Items are prepared using Ultimaker Cura and sent to print the same day. The team organise and collaborate on design projects and use Cura Connect to organise their printers from a single interface. Everything runs smoothly 24-7.
As you’d expect, material choice was an important consideration for the Florenradica team. They experimented with numerous plastics from the Ultimaker catalogue, before settling on PLA. They found PLA gave them the most reliable results and meant they could work with dissolvable PVA support material for complex designs. They use approximately 60kg of PLA every month with little wastage. And because PLA is affordable, manufacturing and batch costs are always kept low.
The results of 3D printing
By changing the processes they use to fabricate (and cutting down on traditional woodworking and CNC machining) the team have saved thousands of pounds in development costs alone. 3D printing now accounts for 95% of end-use part output and 5% of prototypes. 40% of their total sales include parts that were 3D printed.
This information was first published on the Ultimaker website.