People of 3D printing: Stéphane Rodrigues

People of 3D printing: Stéphane Rodrigues

Posted By on Nov 25, 2020 |

Who is Stéphane Rodrigues?

Stéphane Rodrigues is a 25-year-old additive manufacturing project manager for Allizé-Plasturgie, a french professional union serving players in the plastics and composites sector (soon to be called POLYVIA).
Passionate about emerging technologies (3D printing, AI, Li-Fi, material innovations, etc.), he was keen to work in a sector that allowed him to be in direct contact with them. This is why very early on, he joined the R&D departments of companies from various sectors to quickly train and experiment in additive manufacturing, which seemed to be very promising.
His daily role at Allizé-Plasturgie consists of advising and supporting companies in all sectors on technical issues around additive manufacturing processes. These may be companies that already integrated or wish to study the feasibility of incorporating these technologies into their operations.
In the first case, the issues often relate to material research or the use of machines.
In the second, he supports manufacturers to identify the potential of integrating 3D printers on their sites, help them find the right machines and the suitable materials according to their specifications, raise their awareness of QHSE issues, and provide the necessary skills through training. Companies can also perform benchmarks on an Additive Manufacturing Platform, made up of 8 machines representing the 3D technologies most used on the market.
 

How did Allizé-Plasturgie come to create an additive manufacturing platform?

We created The Additive Manufacturing Platform more than two years ago as part of a PIA (Programm d’Investissement d’Avenir): Future Investments Program financially supported by the Auvergne Rhône-Alpes Region and the french Banque des Territoires. Our members were more and more interested in the potential of these technologies, but they lacked information. Thanks to the platform, we guide them in their choices by centralizing information and preserving our neutrality. To do this, we rely in particular on the technologies available to us within the platform: FFF, CFF, SLA, DLP, Polyjet, MJF, as well as on several post-processing software and solutions. Besides, we have set up a network of 3D printing partners, including Sculpteo, which allows us to relay technical information to our members and keep them informed of the latest developments.
 

Can you tell us more about your personal background?

I have an atypical background in 3D Printing as I mainly learned about this subject in the companies I worked for since very little training is offered on this subject. Regarding my background, I first studied conception and product design, then joined Compositec, where I trained as a Project Manager with a specialization in composite and plastic materials. I started in a design office as a product designer for a sports equipment manufacturer before joining the Front End Innovation (emerging technology) department of a great chemist. At that time that I started training in additive manufacturing. My role was to develop one of the first ranges of reinforced materials offered on the FFF and SLS market. This experience allowed me to test many material and machine grades, which allowed me to become a Business Developer for the European market and work on projects with the largest European and American companies.
 

What are the challenges of 3D printing in your sector? What technologies and materials do you use?

3D printing is becoming strategic. We see more and more contractors integrating these technologies to produce a few parts or even small series productions. As our network of around 900 members is mainly composed of plastics processors, our role is to democratize additive manufacturing so that plastics processors can be aware of the possibilities, the limits and are made aware of the challenges of this growing market. The goal is not to move from conventional to 3D printing all at once but to enable them to seize opportunities if their business sectors are suitable by identifying solutions for their customers.
On the other hand, the market is trending towards mass customization, which means more tools to be produced for smaller series and less profitability from a processor point of view. The question of live production by 3D printing thus arises, often hampered by the cost of equipment, the lack of material grades, and surface aspects that are more complex to optimize compared to conventional processes.
Plastic manufacturers are used to producing large parts and mainly integrate FFF (filament deposition) or resin-based (SLA or DLP) printers to create prototypes to validate the design before manufacturing the mold injection. A large part of them also goes through service providers in powder or resin technologies.

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You work with plastics processing companies. Can you tell us more about the advantages of additive manufacturing in this area?

Additive manufacturing is often used in the context of the production of prototypes, as indicated above. The tools are costly. It is interesting to show a first model to the customer to validate the design, understand how to place the mobile elements of a footprint, or validate a texture. But its agility and the responsiveness it offers also allow some plastics processors to work on gripping hands or specific parts much less expensive than when these parts are machined.
Plastic manufacturers are also very interested in manufacturing additive manufacturing impressions in which they can inject a hundred or even a thousand parts on certain materials to produce pre-series or small series.
 

You are currently working on the Acapulco project, a research program on Additive Manufacturing applied to your sector. What is it about?

The Acapulco program is a research project led by several players, including Allizé-Plasturgie, which aims to develop polymer impressions by additive manufacturing for plastic injection. The goal is to produce small series of the right material parts at a lower cost. The project is coming to an end soon. We have obtained exciting results and a wealth of data (recommendations, transformation parameters, etc.). In particular, we have injected “low temperature” polymers (below 220 ° C), such as PP, PE, SEBS, into series of several thousand parts without degradation of the impressions or dimensional losses. Things get complicated when we switch to higher temperatures (PA6 or PC, for example), where we have only been able to pass around thirty pieces. We are now focusing on these materials to meet relatively strong market demand, especially in the automotive sector.
 

In general and/or specific to your sector, what is your opinion on the future of 3D printing?

Additive manufacturing has proven its worth when it comes to gaining agility and responsiveness. It has shown us that today it is possible to reduce development times and manufacturing costs significantly. We must continue to democratize these technologies to convince manufacturers of these processes’ potential for the production of final parts.
There is also a need for training on product design stages, which are different from the steps for conventional processes (injection, machining, etc.).
Our sector still needs to evolve on several axes and, particularly in terms of materials and equipment, to convince transformers that the process can meet even complex DC specifications, with repeatability and reliability that they find on their current equipment.
The Allizé-Plasturgie Additive Manufacturing platform is an excellent way to compare and discuss the solutions offered on the market with experts accustomed to all the plastics industry sectors. This platform can be visited on request to discuss specific needs.

In this “People of 3D printing” interview, Stéphane Rodrigues showed how the plastics industry can benefit from 3D printing. As you have seen, professionals from this industry need to know more about how 3D printing can help them with their daily projects. Do you too want to adopt additive manufacturing for your business? Learn more by reading our playbook on the adoption of additive manufacturing. .

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