Thanks to its Streaming Innovation initiative, first presented at the Ligna exhibition in 2015, Italian machinery maker SCM says it has increased not only its interest in ‘design to production’, thus becoming a partner of a project that connects technology and design, but also showed the potential and benefits that its machines can give to small- and medium-sized companies.

The Streaming Innovation project was born from the research and experiments of Dr Federico Rossi, associate professor at the School for the Built Environment & Architecture at London South Bank University.

This Italian professor has recently founded a laboratory within that London university to work on Digital Architecture and Robotic Construction, where a team of experts and technicians are testing systems which are based on the direct passage between design and production, from software to machine. In other words, from the idea to the object, whatever it may be.

"The research world is increasingly interested in ‘design to production’, in other words technologies that can transfer complex design geometries to the language of a machining unit and a numerical control (NC) work centre," explains Dr Rossi.

"We have been conducting this applied research with SCM Group for a few years. For us it’s a great opportunity to experiment and test how our ideas can be developed in the day to day work of a company; a digital approach to production that in the not-too-distant future will feature heavily in all sizes of company."

From all this was born ‘Streaming Innovation’ – the structure in the middle of SCM Group’s main stand at Ligna 2015.

"This year we wanted to try a different and more advanced form of communication: a three dimensional structure that expresses the complexity of the surfaces and volumes that can be obtained easily and quickly with five-axis machining processes", explains Dr Rossi.

"Masses and volumes which intersect each other like roots represent SCM Group and its ability to provide machines and technologies that, placed together in the right sequence, complete a production process, whatever it may be."

The whole structure has been produced with SCM’s numerical control machines, a practical demonstration of the infinite potential that can be achieved with the group’s skills and ability to work in any spatial dynamic and any shape to bring to life any idea – even the most ambitious, says Dr Rossi.

Tech Z5 – Z2

The Streaming Innovation project is materially constituted by a flow of wooden strips, machined by Naldini Arredamenti, using SCM Group machining centres. Gabriele Naldini, Naldini Arredamenti’s owner, talks about his experience spent at Ligna 2015 and how the technologies of SCM have changed his way of working – and his company.

"For a small company like ours, being able to contribute to the creation of SCM Group’s stand, a colossus in woodworking technologies, for Ligna 2015 – the most important trade show in the world for our sector – makes us extremely proud," says Gabriele Naldini. The fact that the project was created by Federico Rossi, professor at the South Bank University in London, makes it even more exceptional".

Naldini Arredamenti is a family company with a small workshop in San Martino in Strada, close to Forlì, Italy.

The progressive move towards producing furniture for shops and pharmacies led Naldini to new markets and in 2004 it took the decision to radically change the company with a new plant, new technologies and new objectives.

"But what really changed us," says Gabriele Naldini, "was embracing the new numerical control technologies. The first centre that we bought was an SCM Tech Z2, which literally launched us onto another planet. We managed to survive the initial and extremely difficult years of this recession thanks to this choice.

"There was an extremely tough period during which the numerical control machine allowed us to continue growing and to win complex jobs that previously we wouldn’t have been able to do."

With the purchase of a Tech Z5, the leadership of Naldini Arredamenti became even stronger.

"Now we can work in all three dimensions and meet all the requirements of designers who are increasingly working with this approach, with products that we would never have been able to produce manually," says Gabriele Naldini.

Today, Naldini employs a ‘numerical control approach’ to its work: "Every order is designed, planned and produced by taking into account everything that we can do with our SCM work centres, which are absolutely perfect for our requirements," concludes Gabriele Naldini.

Somebody has called it "new digital craftsmanship". It’s not a particularly exciting definition but, more than others, it encapsulates a new way of working that is not solely limited to large companies or large production lines, but is increasingly available to anyone, says SCM.

The machining centre Tech Z5 was born to meet the needs of joiners who are looking for multi-functional machines, easy to use, for any type of work. This machine has a new dowel insertion device called HI.LOCK (High Locking system) and it allows them to complete the manufacturing process of the panel without any manual intervention.

Osb from IBL – Bonzano Industries

The complete structure of OSB panels that created the Streaming Innovation project was provided entirely by IBL of Coniolo, Alessandria, Italy. The Bonzano family has been producing light, ecological panels since 1966, and invented poplar OSB, thus creating i-Pan.

The partnership between SCM and IBL was renewed after the ‘Frequency Wall’, built for Ligna 2013.

"We work with clients who have precise requirements and who look for partnerships that can help them resolve specific problems; and for suppliers able to guarantee a high degree of customisation. This is why we decided to renew our partnership for Ligna 2015, because it is fundamental to have this approach," says Enrico Bonzano, managing director of IBL, a group that has worked in the wood sector since 1952.

The challenge of recent years for the company is represented precisely by poplar OSB, a tree where the story of the family begins. It is a large plant that creates production of the poplar based panels, but it has been designed to be able to do much more.

"We are just at the beginning of this journey, of the possible industrial developments for panels made with this material," says Mr Bonzano. "Seeing them unfinished, and veneered, in the SCM Group stand is just the beginning. Who knows, maybe this experience, this meeting between materials and technology, will open up new challenges," concludes Mr Bonzano.

With Streaming Innovation, the SCM Group has become the promoter of an innovative project which sees future developments in a technology that links the design – and it creates and renews important collaborations with the sector’s stakeholders, says SCM.