Fabio Sant´Ana is from Brazil a country we associate with beaches, football, and carnivals. Yet, the verdant green Carnival-land has much more potential than just being a fun place. Brazil produces aircraft, has growing international companies, a large auto industry, and a growing medical industry. Meanwhile, it has also had some tough years behind in politically and economically. For years Fabio has been trying to bring metal 3D printing and industrial 3D printing solutions to Brazil with Farcco Tecnologia. In this difficult economic environment, he’s been trying to get companies to industrialize metal 3D printing, trying to get companies to start making titanium medical devices in Brazil and doing what he can to 3D print Brazil.
Fabio started with a Precision Mechanics Degree and since then has worked in precision machining for over 25 years. He is a specialist in metal 3D printing and has a deep understanding of EBM in particular. He’s worked with a number of blue-chip companies in Brazil and has helped them to go from knowing next to nothing to industrializing 3D printing for manufacturing. Fabio is a part of the ASTM F42 Additive Manufacturing, ISO TC26, ABNT CEE-261 Manufatura Aditiva and ABNT CB-26 Odonto-Médico-Hospitalar standardization efforts and an expert in Design For Additive Manufacturing.
What is Farcco Tecnologia?
Farcco Tecnologia is a company devoted to introducing Additive Manufacturing technologies to the Brazilian Industries, it is specialized in real metal additive production technology, and is really reaching out to every possible specialization in AM . The main focus is expanding the knowledge of Brazilian market. Farcco researches and finds the most important technologies thru shows, conferences , training and suppliers to make Brazilian Industries to reach the same level of capability and expertise found overseas .
What is the 3D printing market in Brazil like?
The Brazilian Additive Manufacturing market is developing in slower pace, the last 8 years did hold Brazil back in terms of R&D. In a not growing, or more in a depressed economy, is hard for companies to justify investment in new, and technology advanced, manufacturing capacities. Starting in 2018 with the new government , companies started to forecast economic growth for the next years and this made the industrial environment reach out to us, for 3D printing, to revamp their production resources. In Brazil the medical market is the first adopter in additive and had the first equipment, this is being used for manufacturing titanium implants. During 2017 and 2018, more companies are beginning to understand the real advances of the technology and its benefits in quality, product development and cost saving features. Aerospace started to evaluate AM during 2018 and the first metal machine should be working in Q1 2019 . Most machines installed before this new boom time are in Universities and Research Institutes.
We see very few Brazillian 3D printing startups? How could this be improved?
Brazil has a very limited investment capability, this is what holds us back, the startup environment is not well supported by banks and startups normally only rely on Private Equity and Angel Investments. AM is very capital intensive in case of equipment for startups and this makes it difficult to do.
Is metal 3D Printing increasing in Brazil?
Yes , companies have started to realize the beauty of the technology. Many companies are looking for information in that area,, and some have already started to R&D using smaller or cheaper machines to be able to develop and go for real production machines in a shorter time.
What advice would you give me if I’m an OEM or a materials company wanting to do business in Brazil?
Call me ! … Joking … anyway , Brazil is different in many ways. Lack of infrastructure and investment as well as a difficult tax structure create many entrance barriers for foreign companies , To find a very knowledgeable local partner is something that can keep the company on right track with the right information one can jump many steps and problems. To invest in training of locals to support the “pre” and “after” sales is also a good advice . Brazilian Industry is used to local support and short service time.
What opportunities do you see for Brazil in 3D printing?
“Most of the actual opportunities are in medical , so beside of metals, medical polymers and bio-printing can be better explored . We are growing also in Oil & Gas and Renewable Energy, both have good growth in Brazil , Additive has great features for these areas.”
You’ve been a long time EBM expert what do you see as some of the advantages compared to other metal technologies?
The EBM process has some nice specific characteristics that benefit reactive materials such as titanium, it can supply more energy and generates up to 70 simultaneous melt pools. This is what lets you grow fast compared with other process that have 1 , 2 or 4 melt pools. The way electron beam hits the powder is different than laser, that is basic light and has its particular ways of propagation reflection etc. In EBM energy loss is much lower that also benefits the process. EBM is a less precise in terms of geometry, but can stack parts filling the build chamber, another benefit in terms of production quantities and gives one more balanced building cycles. Each process has its advantages. Laser has a very good precision and also better finished surface, this can work well with steel and forms a less compact build cake what makes cleaning the powder easier in cases of something such as conformal cooling . In Additive Manufacturing each process has its right business case. Every technology has its niches and must be well understood to give you the best results.
Are you excited about the new Arcam EBM systems?
The Q10+ and Q20+ have reached a very stable processing and performance. The Spectra is a big chamber focused on TiAl and bigger quantites. The products are all reaching a very mature state.
You’re not active in binder jetting metals, how come?
Let me tell you how I started in Additive, I’ve been a machining guy since 1991 when I left the Precision Mechanics Technical High School. I’ve been supplying the market with CNC machining equipment since 1992 had to develop skills in 3D manufacturing since that time , from complex mass production processes to really difficult 5 axis applications all in my range. In 2013 a medical implants company R&D manager and friend came to me with a very crazy part he found in Europe and asked me how to make that thing. I told him ” I dont know , yet “. My Additive journey started in that day of 2013, after almost 6 years researching, learning, teaching and going all over the world to be able to implement additive equipment and technologies, I know that each technology has its case, binder jetting cases will appear, no doubt. But, for now, I don’t know yet.
You do work with Sciaky EBAM?
EBM has very good performance in medical and Aerospace, most of the companies in those segments are paying attention to EBM. For larger structural parts Sciaky makes an EBAM based machine that melts wire forming near net shapes for posterior machining, its a processe that speeds up the production of this components a lot , it has potential to short by months the development and manufacturing of large titanium and other metals parts. In Brazil, we don’t have any Sciacky EBAM yet.
I see a lot of potential in using it to rejuvenate molds and blisks, but this is not used a lot?
I really agree with you, but the economics are against it right now, To use a DED head over a mold inside a CNC machining center makes more than sense. However, DED heads or Hybrid machines need economically to fight against a regular machining center that receives a mold filled by a very experienced welder. When you put that in your financial spreadsheet you have the answer why this is not being more used. The final shape and precision will come from the machining anyway, and you already have the welder in your payroll, so …
What do you think the potential of 3D printing?
AM is a marvelous tech, I think we are only scratching the surface of the technology and the new designs made by biomimetcs and topology and generative systems will give us products we cannot even imagine now… so the sky is the limit.?
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