Being based in Italy, and having spent a lot of time here in Milan during this past month, I naturally get more insights from the Italian 3D printing industry. It is likewise true, however, that – in spite of its ongoing, shady political leadership – the Italian industrial landscape is proving to be a great contributor to 3D printing’s evolution: design, local manufacturing, high-precision automotive, naval and airspace engineering, even robotics all playing a part.
However, Italy’s biggest strength during the years of its “economic miracle” (back in the 60’s) was the petrolchemical industry and, while not much of that remains after decades of bad government, its heritage is a flourishing plastic manufacturing and molding industry. This became apparent when I visited the huge PLAST 2015 fair in Milan, where I went looking for new plastic applications for the 3D industry.
While 3D printing naturally occupied a very small section in one of the 6 halls dedicated to the fair, it was one of the areas that attracted the most visitors. The main actors here were filament producers: companies that often have a lengthy experience working with plastics and recently decided to enter the filament market, now presenting some very interesting and qualitative products.
The first one I visited, TreeD, we have already covered. I finally had a chance to meet Dario Negrelli Pizzigoni, a long-time plastics expert who amazed me with his in-depth knowledge of every possible thermopolymer that can be used as filament – as well as with his experience with extrusion and FFF 3D printing parameters. The main news coming from the TreeD stand concerned the wool-like filament, which I had a chance to see in person in three different colors, as well as a new 10Kg spool format, which comes in a cardboard box that turns into a spool holder. I also got a chance to see 3D prints made with the company’s unique iron, marble, and ceramics-infused blends. From what he hinted at, there are will be lot more news coming from this company, so they’re worth keeping an eye on.
There were also two other companies present I was not previously acquainted with. One, called Feel-Color, is brand new. Like many companies in 3D printing (both consumables and hardware), they are a spinoff of a larger company, in this case operating in the field of plastic strings for weedwhackers and grass cutters. They are so new that the website still exists only in a temporary form. They produce PLA, ABS, and nylon filaments and their main characteristics are that they offer a huge range of striking colors, all the way from clear to fluorescent pink. In fact, one interesting service is that they can make you the exact custom color filament you want for any order above 10 Kg. Also, they are experts in filament extrusion and each filament is measured constantly, so as to ensure perfect uniformity throughout the entire spool.
The third company I discovered was present at the fair, EUMAKERS, is also relatively new, meaning that they spent the last year setting up a 360° 3D print shop and service. They are based in Southern Italy (in the Apulia region) and are now ready to announce their project to the market. EUMAKERS offer 3D scanning and full-color 3D printing services; they are 3D printer resellers for Ultimaker, WASP and Witbox; and they offer a huge range of filament colors, just in PLA. I got a chance to try out the 2.85 mm sky blue (they gave me tons of samples and spools to test out) and it looks and works fine. The over 60 colors (there are five different reds, seven different greens, and 10 different yellows!), available in both 2.85 and 1.75 mm PLA, all come in beautiful 3D printed spools which transform into coat hangers after use for full recyclability. It really makes you want to try EUMAKERS’ filament out. And you can, by ordering your free 50 gram spool here.