Italy: Cautious optimism as Italy emerges from recession
ETMM: How does Assocomaplast help its members?
Grassi: Manufacturers have put a lot of effort into producing product lines, machines and equipment which conform with Europeans security standards. They have also adopted low power machinery to improve the environmental sustainability of the conversion process and product lighter plastic components, particularly for customers in the automotive industry. In association with Euromap, Assocomaplast has helped to produce recommendations for an energy classification that defines a uniform measurement of energy consumption within plastics and rubber processing machinery (much like refrigerator with Class A/B/C etc).
ETMM: What new technology is most important?
Grassi: Additive manufacturing has recently arrived in the production department and rapid prototyping is now used at the development stage when pressing and injections are not cost effective to guarantee the quality, repeatability and affordability required in the industrial process. The field of 3D industrial printing applications is also diversifying as the sector begins to experience a ‘third industrial revolution’ that combines informatics with large scale production.
ETMM: What industries are the main buyers for Italian tool and mould makers?
Grassi: Companies making plastic components for cars, household appliances, rigid or flexible packaging have increasingly bought Italian machines and Italian entrepreneurs have also created customised machines to satisfy unique and specific requests. In the niche sector of the thermoplastic and rubber recycling market Italian machinery has been installed in many production plants across Europe and the US, and we have also seen demand growing in developing countries. Healthcare and medical research is a particular 3D application field.