in Vol. 20 - July Issue - Year 2019
Innovative Surface Finishing Solutions
Mr. Paolo Redaelli, C.E.O. of Rollwasch Italiana S.p.a.
Wave Finishing Multichannel
RotoSYNC - Robotic Aided vibratory finishing
Awarded in Milan
Rollwasch® Italiana S.p.a. is the oldest Italian manufacturer of mass finishing machines and consumables, and has been a pioneer since 1950. After the recent world premiere at 3D Print – Lyon, Rollwasch® has introduced the innovative solution called "VibroBLAST" (Patent pending - I), gathering vibratory finishing with blasting technologies to optimize the results on 3D-printed surfaces or Additive Manufacturing components, although the technology is compatible with many other applications. Paolo Redaelli (P.R.), C.E.O. of Rollwasch Italiana S.p.a., answers some questions about the recent evolutions introduced by Rollwasch in Europe and their perspectives.
(?) MFN: Could you please summarize the most recent evolution of your activity?
(!) P. R.: The recent five years of Rollwasch have been characterized by boosting the investments in R&D in a very active way. Markets continuously change, modifying their requirements and offers must prevent and stimulate adequate interest to renovate or to invest. To grow in a proactive context, at Rollwasch, means to propose continuous updates of the surface-finishing technologies, taking into consideration sustainability and competitiveness at the same time. As a manufacturer of media, chemical compounds and machines for nearly 70 years, we are interpolating our resources through the lens of the so-called "process technology", "R&D" and marketing activities, aiming to design products that are not only compliant with the client requirements, but are also able to anticipate its needs. Some of the most recent evolutions of our activities are interacting one into the other in several projects. One of the main examples is the "VibroBLAST" technology, where solutions of the vibratory finishing field are interacting with sandblasting systems designed in an innovative way.
(?) MFN: Why combine vibratory finishing with sandblasting technologies, and what are the advantages for the final user?
(!) P. R.: We started to pose this question to our team about seven years ago, when Rollwasch filed a first patent demand for this kind of blasting technology. Another patent demand was in the meantime filed for a special media able to participate in the 3D dynamics of the workpieces mass, moving inside a vibratory finishing bowl. Only after a relatively long list of tests, trials, metrology detections and comparative iterations of several achieved results did our labs release a sort of "Best Practice". This allowed us to define the way of getting the best results in several situations and with a wide number of surface conditions of the workpieces. From this guideline, it has been evident that the wide application number of a combination of synergy of sandblasting with vibratory finishing has brought about better results than by the use of each separate method.
The first evidence was for the Additive manufacturing components, both in polymers or metals. The use of the vibratory finishing technology itself brings a fine surface rugosity result only after a rather long cycle time, thus often modifying the original geometry with evident edge radiusing. On the other hand, only sandblasting is not able to achieve, in many cases, a so-smooth surface as with the most modern vibratory finishing processes (like the VibroDRY ones). Additionally, the preparation of a surface with a suitable sandblasting application and media, followed or integrated by a resilient kind of mass finishing media like the "QF-L", achieves very good surface finishing with reduced cycle times. Last, but not least, the 3D dynamics of the VibroBLAST finishing machines offers the advantages of the "mass finishing" concepts also to the sandblasting operations in an easier way than with the rotary belt units or with the rotary basket machines. One of the reasons is given by the sort of "fluid bed" generated by the blasting media that are re-conveyed over the surfaces many more times than with a rotary basket unit. In fact, in a vibratory blasting unit, the motion is most gentle, being amortized by the resilient polyurethane lining of the working tank and by the resilient mass finishing media interacting with the blasting media or abrasives; thusly, generating a very efficient finishing process.
A very smart design of VibroBLAST machines allows loading the machine automatically (no operator needed) by means of a simple hopper or a transport belt when the machine gives the loading signal through a pneumatic port applied to the machine cover. The same automation level is designed for the final unloading of the treated parts, through a pneumatic port under which a second transport belt can be applied. In this way, a line of finishing machines, of different types and capacities, can be organized in a very efficient network where a single transport belt can provide the discharge of the vibroblasting units.
(?) MFN: What about the future presence of Rollwasch in the Air-blast and wet-blast markets?
(!) P. R.: From 1950 to 2010, Rollwasch has focused its core business mainly on the mass finishing manufacturing vibratory finishing machines, rotary barrels, centrifugal barrels, disc finishing and drag finishing machines, first-wave finishing systems and some robotic belt grinding islands, combined with media and chemical compounds.
Around 2011, Rollwasch started an intensive and confidential activity of R&D that has needed to be focused on two main lines:
1. Developing a range of machines and finishing technologies not yet existing on the market and,
2. Assuring a strong technical partnership with reliable experts in the san blasting and shot-peening field, combined with specialists of aspirator filters also assuring, when needed, compliance to Atex norms.
This activity, complex and quite demanding, with many tests and trial experiences in several directions, has contributed to define the most professional line of machines and accessories to provide a basic standard line, starting with clear thinking: to produce VibroBLAST equipment and machines.
This is our present challenge and will represent our potential future presence in the Air-blast and wet-blast international skyline.
(?) MFN: What about the Rollwasch role in the European market?
(!) P. R.: Our strategy for a "sustainable finishing road map" started in spring 1991, with the presentation of our program of new chemical compounds EUROPA SERIES.
This program was offering compounds not only "good for finishing" but also "easy for the following water treatment" to make this final operation successful and at low cost that, a few years later, would have influenced the market through law.
De facto, Rollwasch has anticipated the REACH directives (CE 1907/2006) for about 15 years, removing from chemical compound programmes the most difficult, polluting and toxic substances.
The Rollwasch "sustainability" has progressed on a "green carpet" for the years following, combining sustainable ideas with the most competitive solutions.
Indeed, most of the times, less pollution means less cost, and finally, this message has been validated from the majority of our European clients.
Our motto is: "At Rollwasch we think differently".
It is not only a motto, but a corporate philosophy, a style of behavior that distinguishes our activity from our competitors worldwide.
The role of Rollwasch in the European market is to offer smart solutions, to act as a technological partner of our customers, trying to advantage our customers as much as possible.
(?) MFN: Could you explain some examples of what you mean by "smart solutions"?
(!) P. R.: In recent years, we have introduced into the market the following (Patent pending – I and not) smart solutions:
1. Robotic finishing systems and processes type: WAVE FINISHING MULTICHANNEL
2. MICROFLUID finishing technology
3. CARVING FINISH
4. VIBRODRY machines and processes
5. Finishing process ROTODRY
6. ROTOSYNC vibratory finishing process assisted by robots
7. ACTILIFT vibratory finishing process in the loading and unloading of frame-supported parts,
8. ACTISYNC vibratory finishing process
9. High Turbulence Wave Finishing process applied to robotic sandblasting systems for highly efficient finishing of complex geometries;
10. ARW Process - Automatic Peeling for centrifugal filters
11. Robotic grinding and superfinishing systems -
Many of these solutions are mature and clients already are at their second or third investment, whilst a few of them are more recent.
(?) MFN: Rollwasch is a family-owned Company, so what are your organization’ strengths?
(!) P. R.: For sure, Rollwasch has a consolidated and well balanced management board, where the skills and diversities are producing a sort of efficient "four cylinders engine", working regularly and where every single element participates in the final result in a positive way. The staff consists of about 55 people, and one of the strong points is the experience level and employment stability over time.
The third generation and younger staff is skillful in robotics, industrial design, informatics and software, contributing to the modernization of the overall projects with much enthusiasm and professionality.
In consideration of our decision, since 1983, to produce almost all the structures, bodies and main components of our machines, systems and devices with external sub-contractors, our organization relies on about 300 external companies.
The majority of this context is "made in Italy".
This is for sure one of our strong points, assuring high flexibility in hardware production.
Another strength is the consumables manufacturing know-how production or having produced for many years not only machines but also ceramic and plastic media, chemical compounds and consumables, with a quality system active since decennia.
One example is about ceramic media, that were originally formulated and produced (until late seventies) by Rollwasch in cooperation with I.C.R.A.L. (IT). Today, the know-how of Rollwasch is getting benefit from the day-by-day updating of renewed formulations and recipes, participating to enhance and develop an important experience based on about 69 years of activity, with more and more recent expertise in an efficient quality management.
Last but not least, our competence as "INNOVATIVE SME", reinforced by a very pro-active R&D activity, is producing a sort of pole of excellence in the surface finishing area, with very high levels of competency and high reactivity to new projects and to continued modernization.
To summarize, our strong points:
high flexibility in hardware production
consumables manufacturing know-how
efficient quality management
high levels of competency and high reactivity
(?) MFN: Is Rollwasch cooperating with some Institutes, Associations or Specialized Centers in Europe? Is Rollwasch assuming any particular role in R&D projects of its clients?
(!) P. R.: Yes, in Italy Rollwasch is co-founder and is associated with POLIEFUN – Milan, cooperates for some projects with POLIMI (Politechnic of Milan); is associated with UCIF (Finishing system Manufacturer association); AFIL (Smart factory association); has open innovation at the Lombardy region, Lombardy Aerospace Cluster; and the Automotive Network (Assolombarda – Milan).
Rollwasch has also started a proactive cooperation in France with the CETIM of Saint Etienne (Centre technique des industries mécaniques) since 2014; with ENISE (Ecole Nationale d'Ingénieurs de Saint Etienne) since 2018; and according to the Italian laws to promote research and development initiatives and projects, since 2019, the Innovative SME are considered at the same level as the Universities. Rollwasch has been the first Innovative SME of its Region (Lombardy).
In October 2014, I was awarded with the Master of Mechanics title by UCIMU-SISTEMI PER PRODURRE - the Italian machine tool, robots, automation systems and ancillary products manufacturers' association.
Accordingly, the role of Rollwasch as a technical partner in R&D projects for innovation has to be considered as an excellent opportunity as well as specialist support with much competence in surface finishing issues.
(?) MFN: Could you tell me what your vision is of the market evolution in surface finishing in the next five/ten years, according to your experience?
(!) P. R.: The future as well as the present is for sure expecting important evolutions related to:
Energy resources and sustainability
Life cost and labour costs
A circular economy is therefore an important part of present and future strategies to optimize resources. Since 2008, at Rollwasch we have been working on providing alternative finishing media (range QF), totally produced with electromechanical plants that can be powered with clean energy. The lifetime of QF media is on average ten to twenty times longer than other kinds of "classic" media, and the waste volume produced is reduced as well, being recyclable.
Since 2014, the introduction of our "mature" VibroDRY finishing process has grown to a rate of 20% of new systems sold (respective to wet types), as well as Wave Finishing Multichannel, HPM dry technology, etc. also sold more and more frequently, thus reducing water consumption and pollution. The QF and VibroDRY solutions are finding stable use and customer satisfaction in the market. Our future investments are focused on these kinds of strategic solutions to offer, through sustainability, the best possible competitiveness to surface finishing future processes.
MFN would like to thank Paolo Redaelli for this interview!