Polo Meccatronica: a partnership has been signed for ProM Facility product development, simulation and rapid prototyping laboratories
03/04/2017 – (m.d.c.) – State-of-the-art machinery, including metal and polymer powder 3D printers, a machine for tube and sheet metal laser cutting, 3D scanners and an innovative hybrid tool for additive and subtractive machining, the first of its kind to be installed in Italy. An entire area will be dedicated to metrology and quality control and there will also be an ICT infrastructure aiming at approaching the “Industry 4.0” model. This is a flying start for the new ProM Facility, Polo Meccatronica laboratories for rapid prototyping; the result of an intense collaboration between the Province, Trentino Sviluppo, FBK, the University of Trento and Confindustria Trento. The signing of the agreement also offered the opportunity to visit the 1,400 square meters of laboratories and get a preview of the operational functions of the first machines installed. A two-day “open house” will be held at the end of June when all the machines, of a total value of approximately 5 million Euros, will be operational. The circa 1-million-Euro laser cutting machine was produced in Trentino by Adige-BLM and made available, free of charge, to laboratories as part of a collaboration between the company and Polo Meccatronica.
“ProM Facility is a new condominium of ideas,” highlighted Alessandro Olivi, vice president of the Autonomous Province of Trento, “a center of knowledge where technological innovation and large investments in human resources merge, with the aim of innovating the territorial industrial plant, offering new employment and research opportunities to companies and young people. A project born in the name of concreteness, which does not aim to build an ideal model of smart factories but to make it extremely concrete and true. There are many companies interested in partaking in the technological incubators of Trentino Sviluppo and it is up to us to offer the best conditions in response to these requests.”
Polo Meccatronica’s new laboratory for rapid prototyping, called ProM Facility, puts into action the territorial skills gained in the field of Industry 4.0. It, furthermore, represents the link between Polo’s three “souls”: companies, research institutions, and universities and schools, projecting the Rovereto technological incubator as a leading experience in Europe.
ProM Facility enables reduction in the production times of design artifacts and industrial prototypes, allows to design innovative services for cybersecurity and integrated systems and offers students, undergraduates and doctoral students excellent training opportunities.
The memorandum of understanding for the shared management of ProM Facility was signed on the afternoon of Monday, 3 April, by the vice president of the Autonomous Province of Trento and Councillor for Economic Development and Work, Alessandro Olivi, by the Presidents of Trentino Sviluppo, Flavio Tosi, of Fondazione Bruno Kessler, Francesco Profumo, and of Confindustria Trento, Giulio Bonazzi, and by the rector of the University of Trento, Paolo Collini.
“Today we will sign a protocol which we have already begun to implement,” said Flavio Tosi, president of Trentino Sviluppo, “to prove how effective and concrete this collaboration is. We can say that ProM Facility has already won its bet seeing that some companies have already contacted us enquiring about gaining access to this laboratory. Thanks to the synergies between the five signatories of the agreement, we can also say that we have won another challenge; that of having been as fast in constructing and opening this new structure as a private company would have been.”
“This collaboration,” observed Francesco Profumo, president of FBK, “is part of, and strengthens, the model of open innovation and the research-business ecosystem that Fondazione Bruno Kessler launched in the Trentino area. In collaboration with other local companies, this facility in the mechatronics sector will allow to increase the attractiveness and competitiveness on a national and international scale and to develop innovative prototypes and cutting-edge mechatronics systems.”
Paolo Collini, rector of the University of Trento, stressed that “The prototyping laboratory marks another step in the direction of building in Rovereto a center of competence, of business services, of training and research, aimed at strengthening the competitive capacity of local manufacturing companies. An important factor in this project, to making the Polo di Rovereto a place of great potential, is creating contacts between the different companies, the scientific and technological research, carried out by the University and the Kessler Foundation, and the training offered to the educational institutes and the University.”
“Today,” concluded Collini, “another important piece has been added to include the Region of Trentino as a participant to the creation of a concentration of competencies that unites all the universities of the Northeast in the government project Industry 4.0”.
“Sharing a new idea of facing tomorrow is a success”. President Giulio Boazzi reiterated that “Confindustria Trento is excited and proud to be here today in support of a project in which the industrialists have always believed and in which some of our best companies participate. A project that is ahead of its time and that could justifiably borrow the name of Industry 4.0”.
An “open house” to complete the launch of the services offered by ProM Facility is scheduled for 29 and 30 June; a two-day event with numerous guests, during which it will be possible to see all the machinery at work and appreciate all the types of functions and services that ProM Facility is able to provide.
Avant-garde systems and tools worth 5 million Euros. ProM Facility covers an area of 1,400 square meters and is equipped with sophisticated machinery and equipment, totalling almost 5 million Euros, financed thanks to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). This space was allocated by Trentino Sviluppo, from the new production building of Polo Meccatronica, with an investment in the plant infrastructure for the installation of machinery valued at 560,000 Euros. At the same time, work will begin on the construction of the new building, of about 6,000 square meters, with spaces dedicated to ProM Facility but also to “Temporary Labs” made available to companies interested in using the skills and tools of the laboratories for their research projects. Among the apples of ProM Facility’s eye is an integrated machine that simultaneously functions as a machining center for numerically controlled milling on five axes and as an additive manufacturing system through sintering and melting of metal powders with a laser beam. It was built by a multinational company and delivered to ProM Facility as the first model sold in Italy. Another piece of equipment ProM Facility boasts is an 18-meter-long machine used for combined laser cutting of tubes and sheets of various materials. It is the Adige-sys LC5 worth approximately 1 million Euros, built in the Adige-BLM Group plant in Levico Terme and made available free of charge by the company as part of a partnership with Polo Meccatronica. Two 3D printers are also available for the manufacturing of components through the process of sintering or selective fusion of metal and polymer powders by laser beam, a 3D scanner, an electrospindle lathe with numerically controlled programming, as well as numerous other specialized equipment.
The advantages for companies, researchers and students. By compressing development and prototyping times and offering first-class equipment in the field of three-dimensional printing, electronics, product quality controls, integrated systems design, metrology and computer science, with particular reference to “cyber security”, or resilience with respect to cyber attacks and the Internet of Things, meaning the extension of the virtual world to objects and concrete places, ProM Facility will help companies in the Trentino mechatronics chain increase their competitiveness and face the challenges of Industry 4.0; the fourth industrial revolution aimed at automating production processes and integrating important doses of artificial intelligence into products of all kinds. The technologies used in the laboratory are congenial to any type of entrepreneurial experience, because they allow small and medium-sized companies to quickly create customized and design products, but at the same time allow large companies to quickly and cost-effectively experiment with prototypes to be built in series, once perfected. ProM Facility will therefore act as a catalyst both for industrial groups, active in the field of high-tech and advanced engineering, and for innovative start-ups in particular synergy with the Industrio accelerator already present at Polo Meccatronica.
The Management Model. The agreement signed between the partners provides that for the operational management of ProM Facility, located in a new and specific Area created in Trentino Sviluppo, there are three top figures: a director, identified as Paolo Gregori, a scientific manager, a role for which the professor of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Trento, Paolo Bosetti, was chosen, and a technical manager, Amos Collini, previously responsible for the testing laboratories at FBK. These three representatives will work together with another four highly specialized technical figures, of which three have already been identified and hired by Trentino Sviluppo in the mechanical, electronic and IT sectors.
The provincial council will soon formalize the establishment of a public and private Specialized Committee with consulting as well as control and strategic planning functions, which will play a key role in the promotion of technological transfer and higher education.
Students from secondary technical institutes, undergraduates and doctoral students will also be offered the opportunity to carry out excellent internships and research paths. The University of Trento will support two doctoral scholarships per year based on specific themes related to Polo Meccatronica and the activities achievable within the new ProM Facility. Confindustria Trento will also finance a specific two-year research grant for related activities.
In June, ProM’s work team will be completed with a second doctoral grant, provided for in the agreement, with Unitn, and with the implementation of specific activities in the area of ICT, of which Marco Roveri, of the FBK Information Technology Center, will be the referent.
Students of the E-Agle Trento Racing Team are already at work in the laboratories. The fusion between the two worlds, training and research, in the newly created ProM Facility is already in place. 60 students from the University of Trentino, who belong to the E-Agle Trento Racing Team, are already using numerically controlled machine tools, metal 3D printers and the laser cutting machine to construct an electrically powered single-seater that will be used to compete in the Varano di Parma circuit in the Formula SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) that will take place from 17 to 23 July. It is an international competition between university students that consists in designing and subsequently putting on track a highly energy-efficient and attractive one-seater vehicle with a high-performance design.
Images and interviews by the Press Office