Blast | 3ntr

Blast: a jump beyond the prototype, with 3ntr 3D printing

The Blast rebounding shoe project proved to be a technical success. This is also thanks to 3ntr’s A2v4 printers, which allowed us to create functional prototypes ideal for carrying out in-depth tests of individual components, saving time and money.

3D printing has long been associated with rapid prototyping. In the meantime, machines and materials have evolved, printing speed has increased, precision also and the concept of “prototyping” has thus reached a new level.

A clear example in this sense is the experience gained by Blast, an Italian company that produces high-end sports equipment. Christian Nino, the company’s Project Manager, boasts a substantial knowledge of additive technologies. “I have been exploiting the potential of 3D printing for several years to develop projects of all kinds”, he reveals: “About 7 years ago, at the Maker Faire exhibition in Rome, I met Davide Ardizzoia of 3ntr. The machine he presented, although still in an embryonic state, had the dimensions I was looking for and other interesting features. Some test prints convinced me of the quality of the product and so 6 years ago the first A2v4 from 3ntr entered the company”.

Naturally, one of the main constraints imposed by the first printers was linked to the work volume, reduced to a minimum, but the needs to be satisfied were also being defined, so the machines and their possibilities progressed together. Also in Blast.

Blast | 3ntr
Blast | 3ntr

The Blast Project

Initially involved in the production of helmet components, Nino has recently been involved in the Blast project: innovative footwear that exploits the rebound effect and isometry in a completely new and progressive way. The particular geometry of its suspension combines comfort and joint protection as happens with the trampoline.

The patented BASS technology (Blast Apex Spring System) requires a complex design and the presence of multiple components, some of which can be further customized to obtain the desired feedback from the shoes: more or less momentum, soles suitable for different terrains, stabilizers etc.

“3ntr’s 3D printer has made the development path of the Blast rebounding shoes much more agile and faster. – explains Christian Nino – It has in fact allowed us to shorten design times, try more combinations of geometries and, last but not least, save resources compared to a project with pilot moulds. By creating the various pieces with a beehive structure we were also able to build padding to be positioned in contact with the body, all with more than good results”.

The A2v4 printer proved ideal both for its dimensional characteristics, with a print volume of an impressive 600x325x500 mm, and for the quality and reliability of the parts production. Also crucial was the use of the right material (ABS) which, as Nino himself points out, is not just one type: “Some 3D printer manufacturers prefer a variant capable of offering excellent aesthetic results, however at the expense of functional characteristics. The polymer printed by 3ntr machines is very similar to that used in injection molds for mass production, so much so that those that are born as prototypes can actually be thoroughly tested without problems, while with other machines we are limited by less polymers. resistant. To give an order of magnitude, with the A2v4 we printed soles that traveled kilometers without showing obvious signs of wear, while with others we did not reach 100 meters of travel. From a testing point of view, for us it is the ideal condition, because it is useful for establishing whether a component or geometry is actually suitable for the use we intend to make of it”.

Blast | 3ntr
Blast | 3ntr

Speed ​​up your workflow

In Blast, over time, increasingly intensive use was made of the first A2v4, so much so that it led the company in charge of the project to purchase a second one. Today the two models carry out different activities: the first uses a larger nozzle to create larger parts, while the second deals with smaller and more precise ones, sometimes also made of rubber.

In any case, depending on the size of the piece to be made, a 3D printer requires from a few hours to a few dozen. Timings in line with a streamlined and rapid activity. But how much does all this influence the workflow of a project like Blast? The Project Manager tells us about it.

“To try to quantify the contribution of 3ntr printers to the success of our business, I quote an episode from last winter. One Thursday we said to ourselves, half jokingly: ‘Why not make studable soles to go on snow and ice?’. On Saturday, two days later, we were in the mountains trying them at -20°C! In this world it is important to have the tools to carry out tests in the shortest possible time and consequently reduce the time to market. Without our A2v4 it would not have been possible”.

One of the secrets to getting the best results lies in file and printer management software. The SSI software is the application specifically developed by 3ntr to ensure the best possible yield, by appropriately setting all the parameters in the machine: polymer temperature, advancements, type of nozzle, calculation of material shrinkage, etc.

Stivale Blast | 3ntr
Blast | 3ntr
Blast | 3ntr

There’s no going back

Additive is a technology still maturing: between machines, materials and software, the future is full of opportunities. Even more so, Christian Nino is certain of one thing: he would not go back on his steps. “There is not a single reason why I would give up the current workflow, so much so that I have also recommended 3ntr machines to my suppliers. Not only has 3D printing revolutionized the way I develop and make products, it has also made it faster and cheaper. Dedicating a few extra hours to 3D printing benefits the quality and characteristics of the final product. Even mold makers benefit from this, because when we validate a project and the related 3D file we are sure that the construction of the mold will also be simpler and will not require particular adjustments”.

Blast | 3ntr

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