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Franco Cevolini, CEO of CRP Technology and Livia Cevolini, CEO of Energica Motor Company

JEC Composites Magazine interviews Franco Cevolini, CEO of CRP Technology and Livia Cevolini, CEO of Energica Motor Company, to understand in depth the company evolution and the projects focused on technical innovations in order to continue to provide top solutions to the high tech industry.

Franco Cevolini, CEO of CRP Technology and Livia Cevolini, CEO of Energica Motor Company
READING TIME

12 minutes, 40 secondes

Passion, expertise and vision, we are referring to the Motor Valley, a district of the Emilia-Romagna region, in northern Italy, historically linked to the production of high quality cars, engines, racing cars and motorcycles, where technology and constant research keep alive a myth known all over the world. Where else one can  find such a high concentration of large and small car and motorcycle manufacturers and racetracks?

Energica’s official test rider Alessandro Brannetti on Energica Ego Corsa Black Test. This model has many 3D printed parts in Windform® composites, such the fairing.
Energica’s official test rider Alessandro Brannetti on Energica Ego Corsa Black Test. This model has many 3D printed parts in Windform® composites, such the fairing.

We already interviewed the CEOs of two companies from the area, today  is the turn of CRP Technology whose main feature is certainly the search for innovation. Founded in Modena 50 years ago by Roberto Cevolini, the CRP Group offers high-tech machining and 3D printing for high-precision CNC machining at the service of the motorsports sector. Since 1970, Roberto Cevolini & C. has always been a leader in processing for the most demanding industrial sectors and has continued to grow and diversify thanks to the ability to continuously update and have a clear vision of the future. Suffice it to say that, in 1996, when 3D printing technology was little known and utilised by industry, CRP Technology was founded, a subsidiary of Roberto Cevolini & C, led by Franco Cevolini, son of the founder, a company dedicated to the development of the 3D printing process for advanced industrial sectors. The research undertaken by CRP developed the Windform® composite materials for professional 3D printing technology (powder bed fusion process with fiber reinforced composite polymers). In 2009, interest goes on energy saving and environmental sustainability.

Joyson Safety Systems’ driver airbag (DAB) housing, during the assembling of the airbag system module. The housing is a functional 3D printed prototype, manufactured by CRP Technology using Carbon fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® SP.  Courtesy Joyson Safety Systems.
Joyson Safety Systems’ driver airbag (DAB) housing, during the assembling of the airbag system module. The housing is a functional 3D printed prototype, manufactured by CRP Technology using Carbon fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® SP. Courtesy Joyson Safety Systems.

Livia Cevolini, Franco’s younger sister, got interested in electric motors thinking that electric could be a solution to many environmental problems. Hence the concept of a high-performance but low-polluting motorcycle that in 2011 led to Energica, the first high-performance electric motorcycle made in Italy, entirely built with CRP technologies (3D printing with Windform® materials and CNC high precision machining). Livia Cevolini, is now the CEO of Energica Motor Company, so we couldn’t help but ask her some questions focused on Energica.

Energica EsseEsse9 electric motorbike model during the assembly phase. In the image are visible some 3D printed functional parts manufactured by CRP Technology: the motor terminal cover with Energica logo and the sprocket cover, both in Glass fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® LX 3.0.  The chain slider is in Glass fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® GT
Energica EsseEsse9 electric motorbike model during the assembly phase. In the image are visible some 3D printed functional parts manufactured by CRP Technology: the motor terminal cover with Energica logo and the sprocket cover, both in Glass fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® LX 3.0. The chain slider is in Glass fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® GT

JEC Composites Magazine: Good morning Mr. Cevolini, thank you for this interview. Can you tell us more about your role in the CRP Technology growth?
Franco Cevolini, CEO of CRP Technology: I supported and joined my father in founding the company; I’m also the creator of Windform® ranges of materials for professional 3D printing processes.
It all begun in 1996 when my father Roberto, founder of Roberto Cevolini & Co. – a high precision CNC machining avantgarde company with roots in the high end automotive/racing world – and I decided to analyze the 3D printing process as we were aware of its enormous potential in terms of deployment of new, accurate and advanced solutions for our customers.
Therefore we founded CRP Technology, the first company in Italy devoted to professional 3D printing with Selective Laser Sintering process.
Purchasing an industrial 3D printer wasn’t enough for us, we wanted to make a major and stronger contribution. At that time Selective Laser Sintering was an excellent technology with limitations imposed by “processable” materials limited in scope to use for traditional non-functional prototyping. Our vocation for bold technological innovations drove me to develop something out of the ordinary: a family of 3D printing materials for Selective Laser Sintering suitable to manufacture high performance, functional parts and applications, which could meet the needs of our F1 customers, the Windform® range of composite materials.
I created the first material of the range in 1999 and represented the first hybrid polymer-metal composite (filled with Aluminium) to be used for functional prototyping. So far the Windform® family comprises 12 materials distributed in two lines, adequate to fulfill the needs of the most advanced and demanding sectors.
Our “obsession” for Research, Development and Innovation allowed us to re-invent constantly ourselves: just to cite a few, in 2008 we “landed” on U.S. territory and contributed to found CRP USA, our partner for the most demanding American markets; and in 2010 we decided to invest in the new field of sustainable vehicles and created Energica, the first high-performance electric motorcycle Made in Italy.
Both CRP Technology and CRP Meccanica’s high-tech solutions have contributed to Energica’s huge success worldwide. It is also thanks to CRP’s heritage that Energica has been chosen by Dorna as the single manufacturer for the first four years of the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup.

3U CubeSat "TuPOD" co-developed by Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS) and Group of Astrodynamics for the Use of Space Systems (GAUSS) in close cooperation with the company Teton Aerospace (Tetonsys) with the support/sponsorship of Morehead State University (MSU).   This small satellite/deployer is the result of a successful international collaboration. It has been entirely 3D printed by CRP USA using Carbon fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® XT 2.0. It is a revolutionary application in the microsatellites sector.  The TuPOD is an innovative, functional system, being at the same time a satellite – a 3U CubeSat – and a deployer platform – carrying inside two even smaller satellites, the TubeSats. TubeSats are cylindrical shape smallsatellites not compatible with normal CubeSats deployer platform (P-POD) on International Space Station (ISS). TuPOD was developed to address the challenge: thanks to the 3D printing technology and the Windform® XT 2.0 composite material, for the first time two TubeSat satellites has been deployed from ISS. TuPOD has spent almost nine months in orbit.  Copyright JAXA/NASA.
3U CubeSat “TuPOD” co-developed by Japan Manned Space Systems Corporation (JAMSS) and Group of Astrodynamics for the Use of Space Systems (GAUSS) in close cooperation with the company Teton Aerospace (Tetonsys) with the support/sponsorship of Morehead State University (MSU). This small satellite/deployer is the result of a successful international collaboration. It has been entirely 3D printed by CRP USA using Carbon fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® XT 2.0. It is a revolutionary application in the microsatellites sector. The TuPOD is an innovative, functional system, being at the same time a satellite – a 3U CubeSat – and a deployer platform – carrying inside two even smaller satellites, the TubeSats. TubeSats are cylindrical shape smallsatellites not compatible with normal CubeSats deployer platform (P-POD) on International Space Station (ISS). TuPOD was developed to address the challenge: thanks to the 3D printing technology and the Windform® XT 2.0 composite material, for the first time two TubeSat satellites has been deployed from ISS. TuPOD has spent almost nine months in orbit. Copyright JAXA/NASA.

JEC Composites Magazine: Looking towards the future, which are your projects, are you interested in new sectors over automotive? Specifically boat building?
Franco Cevolini: We started with Motorsport because of our technological heritage: we are based in the Italian Motor Valley! But since the beginning we opened up to new sectors, and now we work with the most advanced ones including aerospace and defense, avionics, robotics, medical, and – of course! – motorsports and automotive.
Our business plan is aggressive, consisting in geographic expansion and greater penetration into new markets. For instance, we have just founded a new branch to supply the Middle East’s most advanced markets.
We want to continue reinventing ourselves, facing new challenges, investing in research, innovation, and material development. From this point of view, we are interested in new sectors, and boat building is one of those.

Pleko spike shoes created by athlete Miro Buroni. The outsole, midsole, pins and ribbing are 3D printed by CRP Technology using professional 3D printing process and Carbon fiber filled composite material Windform® SP. The properties of the material and the technology assured flexibility and resistance to deformation even in thin thicknesses.  Courtesy Miro Buroni
Pleko spike shoes created by athlete Miro Buroni. The outsole, midsole, pins and ribbing are 3D printed by CRP Technology using professional 3D printing process and Carbon fiber filled composite material Windform® SP. The properties of the material and the technology assured flexibility and resistance to deformation even in thin thicknesses. Courtesy Miro Buroni

JEC Composites Magazine: Moving back towards the 3D printing; we’ve seen 3D become a big part of industry, but are there still some major challenges, such the effect of damage and how to protect from damage 3D printed parts when compared to the same parts manufactured with traditional methods? And the resistant to flame?
Franco Cevolini: Damage and other “issues” like, for instance, resistance to high or low temperatures and electrical insulation, are not a challenge anymore: Windform® composite materials were created to satisfy the hardest needs of the most demanding sectors and they are capable of overcoming these challenges. But the performance of the 3D printed part is guaranteed only when three factors occur: optimized design, appropriate 3D printing technology, suitable 3D printing material.
Let me better explain: although a lot of companies are confident in Additive Manufacturing and inducted an unprecedented growth that invested also the field of additive materials, too many companies have still doubts about 3D printing processes because they do not know the process and materials.
A high level service bureau is the one that explains to customers not only how the 3D printing processes work, but also the materials’ capabilities and properties, in order to allow the customer to choose the right 3D printing process and the right 3D printing material for any specific application.
The optimal, effective result is achieved when the Design for Additive Manufacturing [DfAM, the art, science and skill to design for manufacturability using 3D printers] is used along with the right technology and material.
As well the resistance to flame is not an issue anymore: in 2019 we launched Windform® FR1, the first flame retardant V-0 rated material which is Carbon fiber reinforced. It is optimal for applications requiring stiffness, lightweight and FAR 25.853 fire retardant compliance since it has successfully passed many flammability requirement tests such as the FAR 25.853 12-second vertical and 15-second horizontal flammability and the 45° Bunsen burner test.

Portrait of MHOX’s customized 3D printed mask CARAPACE Audiam.  This mask was created using generative design. It has been manufactured by CRP Technology using Glass fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® GT.  Courtesy MHOX
Portrait of MHOX’s customized 3D printed mask CARAPACE Audiam. This mask was created using generative design. It has been manufactured by CRP Technology using Glass fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® GT. Courtesy MHOX

JEC Composites Magazine: Recently, you affirmed: “In the last few years the manufacture of structural components for spacecrafts has reached new heights”. What are your plans in this specific industrial area?
Franco Cevolini: Unique results have been obtained especially in the field of small and nanosatellites(PocketQubes and CubeSats) and deploying systems by using Additive Manufacturing technologies and high performance composite materials, as our Windform®. One of the latest and most important goals achieved by CRP Technology in the Aerospace field is the manufacturing of the new version of Alba Orbital’s PocketQube deployer, the AlbaPod v2. Currently it is the only operational, flight-proven PocketQube deployer on the market, and it is fully 3D printed in Windform® XT 2.0.But we would never have achieved this success without our US-based partner company CRPUSA. Many years ago CRP USA started a fruitful collaboration with professor Bob Twiggs from Morehaed State University, co-inventor of the CubeSat reference design for miniaturized satellites. Twiggs has been one of the first to introduce our Windform® XT 2.0 into the small satellite arena: our material performed above expectations and was chosen for the construction of the revolutionary TuPOD CubeSat. We want to continue along this path, and increase our presence by expanding in new geographic areas and by proposing new technological solutions.

JEC Composites Magazine: Technological developments: what are the news regarding materials and processes? Which sectors will see the greatest development for the 3D industry?
Franco Cevolini: The most relevant news concerns the materials: a lot of companies are confident in Additive Manufacturing and have inducted an unprecedented growth, that invested the field of additive materials. In fact the number of materials now available for AM has more than doubled in the past five years.
About the sectors, I think the Marine, Medical, Avionics, Defence, Automotive with the technological transition towards sustainable mobility.

JEC Composites Magazine: In 2004 you created Windform® XT, the first composite polyamide-based material for 3D printing, that changed the rules of the Additive Manufacturing market. In 2021 sustainability is a big topic: what do you think of composites reinforced with natural fibers? Do you think that in the not too distant future they will be able to validly support Additive Manufacturing as well? Generally speaking, what are your considerations on sustainability and recycling?
Franco Cevolini: 3D printing technology is already an environmentally-friendly manufacturing process: using Additive Manufacturing you can reduce transportation costs and print to match demand, with warehouses holding less stock.
These actions help to reduce CO2 emissions, but it is not enough.
The matrix of some Windform® materials is a bio-based polymer and therefore 100% renewable, we want to do more and contribute to reducing the environmental impact.
For that reason, we are evaluating how to create an environmentally-efficient process that optimize the consumption of Windform® materials.
We are studying how to regenerate the Windform® unsintered powder, that acts as support during the SLS process, in order to create another material – a circular 3D printing material – suitable for Additive Manufacturing processes.
We want to make a mark in the opportunities for improving sustainability within 3D printing.

Energica EGO +RS model. All the Energica models have been engineered with the technological support of CRP firms. In particular the use of Laser Sintering technology and Windform® composite materials enabled Energica to be on the market quickly, accelerating the prototyping and product development phase. several parts  constructed with Windform® materials via 3D printing. EGO has been the first Energica model. Its prototype was built with 3D printing technology and different Windform® materials. Windform® composites have been used to construct: side covers, the instrument support, mirrors and nose fairing. They have also been used to build lower stressed items such as the plate holder, chain slider and headlight covers.  Credit: ph© Marcello Mannoni
Energica EGO +RS model. All the Energica models have been engineered with the technological support of CRP firms. In particular the use of Laser Sintering technology and Windform® composite materials enabled Energica to be on the market quickly, accelerating the prototyping and product development phase. several parts constructed with Windform® materials via 3D printing. EGO has been the first Energica model. Its prototype was built with 3D printing technology and different Windform® materials. Windform® composites have been used to construct: side covers, the instrument support, mirrors and nose fairing. They have also been used to build lower stressed items such as the plate holder, chain slider and headlight covers. Credit: ph© Marcello Mannoni

Few questions to Livia Cevolini, CEO Energica Motor Company
JEC Composites Magazine: Ms. Cevolini, thank you for the participation to this JEC interview. If I’m not mistaking, in 2010 I had the pleasure to participate at the first presentation of Energica. Which is the origin of your interest for electric motors?
Livia Cevolini, CEO of Energica Motor Company: The origins date back to many years ago, when I worked for CRP Technology and CRP Meccanica along with my father and brother Franco. In the second half of the first decade of the 2000s we realized that we had created a method unique in the world, based on innovative experiences, expertise and skills obtained working for the F1 industry and the most advanced sectors, and it was time to move forward from suppliers of integrated high technology to creators of our own products.
We combined the interest in alternative propulsion with our racing background, and developed an all-electric racing bike called “eCRP”, from which we started the electric program. Our eCRP race bike was the first and only Italian competitor in the TTXGP electric championship.
The Energica project stemmed from that experience, between 2008 and 2009.

Alba Orbital’s 3D printed nanosatellite (specifically PocketQubes) deployer AlbaPod 2.0 on vibration table going through preflight certification. It is currently the only operational, flight proven PocketQube deployer on the market. Manufactured by CRP Technology using Carbon fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® XT 2.0.   Courtesy Alba Orbital.
Alba Orbital’s 3D printed nanosatellite (specifically PocketQubes) deployer AlbaPod 2.0 on vibration table going through preflight certification. It is currently the only operational, flight proven PocketQube deployer on the market. Manufactured by CRP Technology using Carbon fiber filled polyamide-based composite material Windform® XT 2.0. Courtesy Alba Orbital.

JEC Composites Magazine: You designed Energica in a time when electric motors were still seen with little interest by the automotive industry and even more so by the motorsport sector, from what considerations did this choice arise? How important has been the 3D printing for Energica?
Livia Cevolini: My family has always had a strong drive for bold innovation, we were used to taking technologies and pushing them further to create new solutions. So when we entered the little-known world of electric motorcycles, we did not fail in our attitude: we followed our obsession for innovation, we re-invented ourselves yet again and created the electric racing bike eCRP. We were firmly convinced that the thrill of riding an electric racing motorcycle should not just be for pros. We wanted a high-performance electric bike, but for everyone, and suddenly we realized that we could open wholly new possibilities in electric mobility. In 2009 most people thought it was folly, but at first any idea of success can be folly! Being born in the Motor Valley, we knew we must raise the bar. So we worked not only to make the change but to be the change, thus we created Energica.
Energica was engineered through both CRP Meccanica and CRP Technology. Their expertise allowed the creation of innovative and avant-garde solutions that have made Energica a unique model throughout the world.
Talking about 3D printing, the use of Laser Sintering technology and Windform® composite materials, both supplied by CRP Technology, enabled Energica to be on the market quickly, accelerating the prototyping and product development phase. CRP Technology was fundamental for the industrial development of Energica since the very first prototypes, which contain parts made with Selective Laser Sintering technology and Windform® carbon or glass fibre filled composite materials.
Some parts mounted on Energica motorbikes are still 3D printed using Windform® materials, such as chain slider, front light cover, motor terminal cover, rear grill, sprocket cover, water pump support.

JEC Composites Magazine: What new technologies are you thinking about? What is your forecasts regarding the growth of the electric motorcycle market?
Livia Cevolini: The synergies with Italian companies such as Reinova and Dell’Orto have given rise to very interesting projects such as the E-Power and CEMP projects. From these synergies comes the desire to broaden our horizons, and we will do it even further with the creation of a new business unit.
There will be even more technological projects – because this who we are and what we do – and they will have their foundations on the importance of research and the results obtained every day by our R&D department.
The arrival of new players is a good thing for the electric movement. The rise of the electric community also includes big motorcycle brands entering the market.

More information www.crptechnology.com