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Alessio Lorusso, CEO and Founder, Roboze

JEC Composites Magazine interviewed Alessio Lorusso, Roboze CEO & Founder, to understand how Roboze is re-shaping the manufacturing industry and revolutionizing the world of 3D Printing with the most precise technology.

Alessio Lorusso, CEO and Founder, Roboze
READING TIME

10 minutes, 10 secondes

The 3-D composites additive manufacturing industry is experiencing steady growth, spurred by the flexibility, speed and lower cost that the technology can offer. Alessio Lorusso, young founder (in 2015) of Roboze, named in 2018 as a “Forbes 30 under 30” in 2018 in the “industry” category ranking, was able, literally starting alone in a small workshop, to create in a few years an international company that deals with high-performance machines and materials (Carbon PA, Peek, Flex and polypropylene) to be used in 3D printing processes. Now Roboze is re-shaping the manufacturing industry and revolutionizing the world of 3D Printing with the most precise technology, capable of processing super polymers and composite materials for the realization of finished functional parts to be used in the most extreme conditions and sectors.

The Roboze high technical ecosystem includes a complete range of advanced 3D printers for high temperature and high strength super plastics, developed with the collaboration of the best global players. It guarantees a real optimization of costs and time along the entire supply chain, while bringing Additive Manufacturing closer to the standards of traditional manufacturing. Moreover, Roboze offers the chance to produce custom finished parts on demand through its manufacturing as a service global network, Roboze 3D Parts, that allows companies to reduce cost and time by shortening the steps in their supply chain and digitalizing their inventory.

JEC Composites Magazine: How was your interest in 3D printing born and in particular and what were the most important stages in the development of Roboze?
Alessio Lorusso, CEO and Founder, Roboze: 3D printing has always been a fixed point in my life, since I was a boy I wanted to produce objects by a 3D printer. For me it was not enough to buy one and understand how it worked, I wanted to contribute to the improvement of a system that I was sure had enormous potential. Once the limits of the systems on the market at the time were identified, I immediately understood how much precision and repeatability were fundamental elements that could be optimized to make these cutting-edge production systems useful for the entire manufacturing industry.

Rbz_ARGO 1000: “ARGO 1000: the world's largest 3D printer equipped with a heated chamber for fast production of incredibly strong super polymer and composite parts
Rbz_ARGO 1000: “ARGO 1000: the world’s largest 3D printer equipped with a heated chamber for fast production of incredibly strong super polymer and composite parts

After years of self-taught studies and research, I decided to found Roboze and in 2015 to launch the first 3D printer capable of guaranteeing repeatability and process precision thanks to the Beltless System, an innovative system patented by us that replaces the traditional rubber belts used for the movement of the X and Y axes. Obviously this was only the beginning. Year after year I have managed to create a team of technicians, engineers and scientists, with whom we have carried out a series of projects, primarily dedicated to the printing of plastic materials to replace metals, such as PEEK, CARBON PEEK and ULTEM, not trivial to 3D print, and then focus on developing a system that could fit into a production context with industrial automation solutions and Industry 4.0 requirements.
Roboze was born in 2015 but it was in 2017 that we introduced some solutions that represented a turning point in the entire sector, such as ARGO 500 and the possibility of processing super polymers and composite materials to replace metals. I could talk about the many awards received, but our best recognition is the trust of hundreds of customers in 25 countries around the world who use our technology on a daily basis to solve extremely demanding industrial applications under critical conditions.

Today we have 3 offices around the world. The EMEA headquarters is in Bari Italy, Roboze GmbH in Munich and the American headquarters Roboze Inc in Houston, Texas. Nearly 100 people from 10 different countries will work in Roboze by 2021. We are very proud of the multicultural and multi-ethnic environment we have created, and we strongly believe that diversity is the driving force of creativity. And we are technology creators.

JEC Composites Magazine: Technological developments: what are the novelties relating to materials and processes? In your opinion, which industrial sectors besides automotive and aerospace? Can you explain Beltless Technology to us?
Alessio Lorusso: On July 12th we announced the brand new ARGO 1000, the 3D printer that will revolutionize the world of additive manufacturing thanks to its large working volume (1000x1000x1000mm), the hot chamber it is equipped with and the industrial automation system that makes its integration into the production flow of companies, enabling customized production and increasing efficiency and mitigation of production risks.
Our specialization lies in Metal Replacement through additive manufacturing systems useful for sectors such as Energy, Aerospace, Motorsport, given the advantages of weight, chemical resistance and workability of polymers compared to metals. We are talking about PEEK, Carbon PEEK, Carbon PA, ULTEM, superpolymers and composite materials suitable for use in extreme conditions.

CubeSat 3D printed in Roboze Carbon PEEK (PEEK reinforced with up to 10% chopped carbon fibers)
CubeSat 3D printed in Roboze Carbon PEEK (PEEK reinforced with up to 10% chopped carbon fibers)

Traditional 3D printers are equipped with rubber belts, which are prone to deformation, wear and loss of calibration. These factors make the process non-repeatable over time. The Roboze patented Beltless System, using hardened steel helical pinions and racks, ensures high efficiency, precision up to 10μm and repeatability with cumulative error close to zero

JEC Composites Magazine: The formula of shared manufacturing practically reinvents production systems. Can you give us an overview of the recent and medium-term production / development activity?
Alessio Lorusso: In Roboze we have developed a 3D printing technological ecosystem dedicated to Metal Replacement, Roboze Automate, which brings Additive Manufacturing on a par with conventional methods, perfectly integrating into the production flow of manufacturing companies.
The ARGO 500 platform allows the replacement of metals in numerous applications with enormous advantages in terms of lightness, mechanical strength, workability, chemical resistance and provides for repeatable, controlled and traceable systems that allow customized production for each individual customer in every part of the world. . Everything is designed to bring 3D printing into the new era of industrial production of customized medium batches (up to 3000 parts per year on a single system), reducing time and costs for manufacturing companies.

In addition to the performance and maximum reliability guaranteed by the integrated control platform, ARGO 500 can count on extreme scalability and flexibility in terms of both hardware and software. This technological evolution allows the real application of the Manufacturing as a Service model where additive manufacturing centers for goods close to the point of use, 3D Parts certified manufacturing partners, significantly affect the production and procurement costs of a company.

Since the goods are produced locally, savings on logistics costs are immediate; thanks to greater involvement of the end customer and it is possible to reduce inventory costs.

By archiving a digital warehouse rather than having physical inventory warehouses, companies can significantly reduce inventory costs, producing with industrial additive manufacturing systems such as those of Roboze, on demand and just-in-time.

Roboze ARGO 500: The first large-format super polymers 3D printer for industrial production
Roboze ARGO 500: The first large-format super polymers 3D printer for industrial production

Furthermore, relying on distributed additive manufacturing centers also affects the optimization of operating and maintenance costs of your machine park. The cost of downtime is a hot topic, especially by small and medium-sized companies.

JEC Composites Magazine: Let’s move on to a few questions about your latest news, we refer to ARGO 1000, the first 3D printer with a hot chamber designed to produce parts on a large scale, you say the goal is to build an even bigger one. Do you think the market requires this kind of development? How far can it go?
Alessio Lorusso: The additive manufacturing of large parts has always attracted enormous interest from the industrial sector. Eliminating processes such as the assembly of parts by being able to create large components reduces production times and costs that are currently processed in any manufacturing reality. Another advantage of such a large print volume also allows you to produce more parts at the same time, increasing the productivity of companies.

Being able to do all this with precision, repeatability and high-performance materials is certainly of interest to various sectors such as Aerospace and Energy, where the topic of digital transformation is very hot, especially in recent years.

Since November 2019 we are partnering with Solvay (headquartered in Brussels, Belgium), using Roboze AM technology to complement Solvay specialty polymers, KetaSpire® PEEK and KetaSpire® Carbon PEEK filaments. KetaSpire® PEEK offers excellent temperature resistance
Maintaining mechanical properties even in an environment up to 240°C , offering higher fatigue and impact resistance than other high-temperature polymer solutions in the market.

Tooling metal replacement with Roboze Carbon PA ((PA 6.10 reinforced with up to 20% chopped carbon fibers
Tooling metal replacement with Roboze Carbon PA ((PA 6.10 reinforced with up to 20% chopped carbon fibers

JEC Composites Magazine: Concerning sustainability, obviously your formula of shared manufacturing on demand, producing in real time and locally is in itself eco-sustainable but what is the impact of 3D manufacturing on the environment?
Alessio Lorusso: Sustainability is not just about the environment. It also includes human, social and economic factors. This is one of the reasons why people consider it an added value, because it can lead to important benefits for every company.

Roboze is providing customers with tangible sustainable improvements. The additive nature of AM already makes it a more sustainable manufacturing process, as less waste is generated than traditional subtractive technologies. With Roboze 3D Parts everyone can use digital designs to produce spare parts on demand. This would eliminate or at least minimize inventory waste. It will also reduce the amount of unsold finished goods, potentially improving the revenue stream as goods are paid for before they are produced. Printing what you want, where and when you want, is leading to shorter and simpler supply chains, more localized manufacturing and innovative distribution models that would improve every customer’s life.

JEC Composites Magazine: Pandemic has been a kind of accelerator towards new way to behave and to work, which is your strategy to adapt? How do you see the future?
Alessio Lorusso: The experience of Covid-19 allowed us to see how, with centralized production, companies have had difficulties in procuring goods and spare parts. Many companies have been forced to rethink their strategies and implement a “recovery plan” to make up for the lack of goods from factories located in areas affected by the pandemic. This has created the need to rethink its supply chain by favoring local production. The transition from a traditional to an additive production, directly contributes to the reduction of costs and time. This gives them the opportunity to change the internal structure of the supply chain and make it leaner and less complex.

ARGO 350 is an Industrial 3D Printer developed for producing components in few hours with super polymers and composite materials
ARGO 350 is an Industrial 3D Printer developed for producing components in few hours with super polymers and composite materials

By outsourcing some of the production to local production centers, you not only gain greater control over the chain, but also become less dependent on the planning and production times of other resources.

Distributed production overturns the traditional production approach, involving a digital network of decentralized production sites, distributed over different geographic areas and connected via digital technology.
From this context, the 3D Parts service was born with the aim of accelerating this trend by providing an on demand and just in time solution, thanks to a network of certified and specialized manufacturers distributed all over the world. The goal is to help manufacturers reduce costs and time in the supply chain by digitizing their inventory, accelerating innovation and coping with rapidly changing market dynamics, by producing customized parts when and where. necessary.

In Roboze’s vision, we strongly believe that the next decade will be characterized by a direct collaboration between supply and demand. A collaboration that will see greater sharing of information and knowledge based on the main skills of each organization involved. In this way we will become more reactive to meet the real needs of customers by creating new competitive advantages. All will improve manufacturing practices and achieve cost savings and efficiency, which results in continuous improvement.

JEC Composites Magazine: Last question is, of course, about composites materials. Are you interested in expanding your business toward the composites? Are you planning to use 3D printing for composites?
Alessio Lorusso: We are very much interested in composite materials, at our headquarters in Bari (Italy) our R&D is doing a substantial research on the use of 3D printing for composites because I think that composites will truly be the future. I think that automation is essential and want to continue working with high-temperature technopolymers. Obviously the most important use for them are space, defense and drones industries, but I can see that boating is of great interest, not meaning with this that our aim is to print boat’s hulls given that the engineering is complex and the costs for one hull would be very high and unjustifiable, I consider this option an useless stretch.

Aerospace Duct optimized for additive manufacturing with Carbon PEEK

Instead, we are considering with interest boat parts like dashboards or winches and interiors because, thanks to additive manufacturing techniques, the design is free to perform a high grade of geometrical freedom still controlled in terms of mechanical performances by the computer aided design proceedings. This opens new solutions for design manufacturing, shifting the prototyping into the production field allow to follow a high level of detailing for both the geometry and the functional performances, due to additive technologies. We don’t forget that due to the very high temperature resistance of our thermoplastic material (from -80° to + 200°), it can be utilized in the engine compartment, panels, battery boxes, valves etc.

Researchers at our R&D centre have been exploring the use of biocomposite materials for additive manufacturing. Using additive manufacturing with biodegradable materials opens up a range of possibilities and opportunities.

Now they recycle materials we utilize with a thermal pelletizing system that can be reused for non-structural uses. The main problem of recycling is the difficulty of finding industrial solution. Part of our research is dedicated to biomaterials.

More information www.roboze.com