Startup3D: F3nice develops more durable metal 3D printing powders


Today, sustainability and environmental issues are increasingly topical given the challenges we face to reduce global warming and the consumption of non-renewable resources. This trend affects all sectors, regardless of the activities carried out or the industry in which they operate.

Additive manufacturingis called upon to meet this global need by offering an alternative to traditional production methods. It is in this context that fits F3nice, the startup that 3Dnatives has selected for the month of November.

Indeed, the Italian company has imagined a solution to produce metal powders in a sustainable way, promoting a circular economy ecosystem. We interviewed them to tell us more about their innovative project!

3DN: Can you introduce yourself and F3nice?

We are F3nice, an innovative Italian startup based in Italy and Norway. We are proud of our strong roots in our country, a factor which we believe sets us apart in the market given our excellent know-how in the fields of manufacturing, steel and metallurgy.

Indeed, our startup is based on the expertise provided mainly by the two co-founders of F3nice, Matteo Vanazzi and Luisa Elena Mondora. Their background in materials engineering allowed them to identify this interesting business opportunity by crossing specific high-level skills on metal alloys with the 3D printing model.

With this vision, we present ourselves as a producer of sustainable metal powder for 3D printing. In effect, F3nice draws its origin from the concept of "phoenix", the mythological bird which finds the life while being reborn from the ashes of its predecessor.

It is precisely for this reason that we have set ourselves the ambition to live up to our name, giving new life to scrap metal and disused parts by transforming them into metal powder which then feeds into new manufacturing processes. additive.

3DN: When and how was F3nice born?

Founded in May 2020, right during the endless months of confinement, F3nice was actually born from an idea in 2019, in the wake of an in-depth analysis of the oil and gas industry .

The decommissioning of offshore assets in the North Sea oilfields, with the advantages offered today by digital inventory models, on-demand and just-in-time production of spare parts, presents a great opportunity to recover and to process alloys with high added value and to feed a circular economy project.

In this scenario, F3nice wants to innovate the additive manufacturing sector towards more sustainable production, by promoting circular economy ecosystems in which it is possible to make the most of the synergies created in industrial districts or along supply chains. 

Indeed, thanks to the F3nice process, part of the value of metal waste from the manufacturing sector can be recovered through the recycling and regeneration of virgin powder. The main objective is to mitigate the impact of 3D printing on the environment and resources by reducing the input of virgin resources and the associated energy content, as well as CO2 emissions.

3DN: Why did you choose 3D printing?

Additive manufacturing is currently one of the most promising technologies to revolutionize the manufacturing industry. 3D printing offers great flexibility in the production of complex parts, unparalleled design freedom and significantly reduced lead times.

3D printing is cheaper and faster, allowing manufacturers to create or repair parts on demand and with local production, rather than ordering new parts from halfway around the world. In addition, it represents a much more sustainable production model than conventional manufacturing by machining.

3DN: How does your 100% scrap metal recycling process work to produce metal powders?

The innovative production process from waste is the advantage of F3nice over its competitors. The protection of intellectual property is therefore of paramount importance and we have filed patent applications at Italian, European and international level.

The success factor of our process is the supply of materials that must be carefully selected and processed to be suitable for the atomization process, without any type of chemical contamination that could lead to impurities in the powder produced. In addition, great care is taken to define the correct mixture of waste to be treated for optimal atomization.

3DN: How important is sustainability in additive manufacturing and how do you see it evolving in the future?

In recent years, unprecedented attention and resources have been devoted to aspects of sustainability across many industries. Among others, the manufacturing industry has been heavily involved in this process and will be more and more so.

For example, the production from ore of one tonne of metal alloy is responsible for the emission of 50 tonnes of CO2 into the environment. This is why new production processes and better recycling practices are needed. With this approach, we consider additive manufacturing as the winning production model to best integrate sustainability concepts.

Specifically, the environmental impact of this technology is reduced, compared to the traditional CNC method, mainly due to two aspects. The first is material consumption:

additive manufacturing processes are more efficient than conventional solutions in terms of material input to produce the same component, because the 3D printing process only uses the necessary material without producing any scraps and chips (except for the substrate which must be removed after printing).

The second aspect concerns waste management: thanks to a more efficient use of raw materials, the production of waste is considerably reduced. In addition, waste from additive manufacturing processes can be recovered and put into circulation at very high rates (almost 100%) in a circular economy approach. 

Today, the manufacture of components must move from a system that produces final parts and rejects waste without recovering it, to a system that minimizes the exploitation of each resource.

This is the future scenario in which this industry must position itself as a challenge and ambition to contribute to preserving our planet according to principle that everyone, and every company, must make their own contribution.

In our vision, the use of additive manufacturing represents the easiest and most efficient way to close the production cycle, as if it were the missing link to go from a linear model to a circular model. We believe 3D printing is set to reshape manufacturing as we know it today.

In our case, the environmental and energy benefits will be quantified by a life cycle analysis according to the ISO 14044 standard, which is currently in progress, and certified by a third-party certification body.

In the future, depending on European and international regulations, the CO2 savings associated with F3nice powder may be valued by carbon credits and dedicated systems such as the ETS mechanism at European level.

3DN: What are F3nice's future projects?

Our growth strategy is aimed at achieving a global presence, with local production facilities located in strategic areas to enable globally distributed production. After the construction of the first atomization plant in Norway, where we have already found strategic partners and potential customers, the expansion plan includes other facilities in the Middle East, South East Asia, America Latin America and the Far East, in addition to other market opportunities that will arise in the future where we locate production elsewhere. We believe that the potential demand for F3nice powder will be greatest in regions where the traditional steel industry is not present, i.e. Mainly in Europe, India, North America and the Far East.

3DN: A last word for our readers?

Fasten your seatbelt and get ready to witness the revolution in the world of additive manufacturing, F3nice is coming!