A Further Look: 3D Printing In Italy During The Pandemic

A 3ntr 3D printer making parts to modify diving masks for use as emergency respirators [Image: 3ntr via Facebook]

A 3ntr 3D printer making parts to modify diving masks for use as emergency respirators [Image: 3ntr via Facebook]

Italy has been hard-hit in the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and new ways of life are leading to new approaches to business for 3D printing.

We spoke last month with Italy-based Roboze for a look at operations during a virus outbreak . For further perspective on business in Italy these days, I caught up recently with the team from 3D printer producer 3ntr , headquartered in Oleggio.

3ntr’s CEO, Davide Ardizzoia, and Global Channel Manager, Emanuele D’Addario, provide details about Italian 3D printing in the brave new world of 2020.

Sarah Goehrke: How has additive manufacturing been impacted in Italy? What has the timeline of impact been?

Davide Ardizzoia & Emanuele D’Addario: “We started giving our workstation time to the [email protected] project, encouraging its use through communication to our 800+ customer worldwide (through our SSI software dashboard).

Shortly after we gave public availability of printing time on our machines and we have begun printing spare parts for oxygen supply on emergency wards. Several hospitals in Lombardy are using now those custom made parts.

We take the chance to thank Pavia University for having supplied the engineering work. 

Again we are printing kits developed by Isinnova to transform Decathlon masks into PCAP devices. Big donations are being made to Piedmontese hospitals and we have been asked to provide those kits.

All of our activity and materials are provided free of charge, of course.”

HTA - High Tech Associates srl responds to appeal of Isinnova and FabLab Brescia. The team immediately got to work on the production of modification kits for Decathlon Italia diving masks transformed into masks for emergency respirators. In less than 24h the HTA team managed to ship the first valve kits made in 3d with 3ntr printers, using biocompatible and medical-certified ABS HD USP Class VI plastics and ISO 10993-1. A good example of how collaboration and networking can save lives in intensive care and make a real contribution to the battle against the coronavirus. [Source: 3ntr via Facebook]

HTA – High Tech Associates srl responds to appeal of Isinnova and FabLab Brescia. The team immediately got to work on the production of modification kits for Decathlon Italia diving masks transformed into masks for emergency respirators. In less than 24h the HTA team managed to ship the first valve kits made in 3d with 3ntr printers, using biocompatible and medical-certified ABS HD USP Class VI plastics and ISO 10993-1. A good example of how collaboration and networking can save lives in intensive care and make a real contribution to the battle against the coronavirus. [Source: 3ntr via Facebook]

SG: Before the outbreak, what was the industry like in the country? For your team specifically?

DA & ED: “AM Industry in Italy was (probably like in any other EU country ) growing at a good rate. Our team is growing and delighted to find increasing acceptance, familiarity and brand awareness. 

The most surprising thing is the amount of sales generated by users recommending our systems, and the biggest surprises are coming from large companies recommending our machines to their suppliers/partners.”

SG: How do you foresee business going back to normal (or not) after this?

DA & ED: “Once situation will be fully recovered, we expect a slow business restart. How fast it will be, it will depend on the fiscal incentives put on the table by each country and from the financial solidity of the companies.

The big question mark is how quickly we will be able to return to a completely ‘healthy’ world. It will take many months, if we will be able to avoid the outbreak in areas where no real control is possible (i.e.: Africa, or any other disadvantaged situation like Brazilian favelas).”

SG: What can you tell us about operating in a majorly impacted country during the outbreak?

DA & ED: “Our company is strictly following national guidelines about industrial production: all office personnel is working from home, shipment and inbound delivery are working at reduced rate: we don’t want to expose our workers to contagion risk especially during commute.”

SG: What is your vision of the market now, and how has that changed?

DA & ED: “The market after COVID will face a lot of uncertainty.

Probably we will see a lot less impulsive purchases and more benchmarking: we like a lot this possibility, since we will see better research for real solutions and less attention to marketing hype.

Reliance on imported goods must be reconsidered – this must teach people that brand or price is not the fundamental value.

We at 3ntr always kept most of our supply chain very short, and after COVID we are going to further shorten it.

The market will surely change since most businesses will run with lower sales for many months: this in turn may reflect on slower purchase of new systems, yet we are confident that more pragmatic approach to purchase will benefit our company.

Definitely we will keep our trajectory aimed to growth on domestic and overseas markets.”

Additional perspective on the additive manufacturing industry comes in as well form Elena Palieri, Managing Director of Alterego Creative, the agency that manages all the marketing and communication activities of 3ntr.

Communication can often be taken for granted, especially in terms of marketing. It is, however, a necessary activity for business success, and those working on this side of the field have remarkably valuable insights into operations. In the face of current market uncertainties, Palieri tells us:

“If I can add a personal opinion, on how the AM industry is moving in this moment of uncertainty I can tell you that, in the field of communication, there is a lot of noise.

Thanks to social media, today it is certainly easier to evaluate serious producers: they are the ones who silently carry out their operations and communicate only case histories and concrete, useful and certified contributions, they have different topics and do not ride the Covid wave to gain visibility.

Made in Italy additive manufacturing represents a great resource on a global level, not only in this particular and difficult situation, but must be carefully transmitted and communicated with messages aimed at educating the public, informing them about the concrete potential of this technology with useful tools and notions, and real examples (this defines the more serious companies) and not only with content created to collect likes (this unfortunately defines the less serious companies).”

Via 3ntr and Alterego Creative