Department for Research and Development

Most of the activities of the Metals Centre will be conducted by the Research and Development, namely its two laboratories: The Internet Laboratory (IoT) and the Laboratory for Prototyping.

Laboratory for the Internet of Things (IoT)

Numerous products of the metal industry in northwestern Croatia can be improved by the addition of so-called smart functionality that can increase their added value. Products with no additional smart functionality are being squeezed out of the market or are under increasing pressure to cut production costs. Integration of other wireless modern technologies into machine and manufacturing systems management is one of the most significant trends of today’s industry concept 4.0.

Today, the development of such systems is sporadic for most entrepreneurs in the region or does not happen at all. When used by companies, they usually order finished systems abroad. In fact, there are significant installation and maintenance difficulties, so local production is typically reduced to simpler contract jobs, while a foreign partner creates products by installing intelligent features and adds significant value. The Community for Science and Development can and should make a significant contribution to the development of the intelligent system.

Here are the contours of the fourth industrial revolution, which combines mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and information technology. Communication between machines (M2M), between products and the Internet of Things (IoT) are just some of the trends that must be adopted. The conditions for the development of these areas within the metal center are present. The founder and his partners are seeking to develop the information and communications sector in the region, and significant progress has already been made The partnership includes the Faculty of organization and computer science Varaždin for which the IoT is one of the areas in which they want to develop. At the Polytechnic Faculty of Meurimurje in Čakovec a computer engineering study is carried out The Meologicalimurje Technological Innovation Center focuses on the incubation and support of IT companies.

Following picture presents logical model in which will operate Laboratory for Internet of things within Metal Core Čakovec.

Logical model of Laboratory for Internet of things operation

The process begins with the approval of a research and development project. The first activity is the development of the management system and its elements for the use of suitable development tools or software packages. In parallel, hardware and software are being developed. The laboratory equipment to produce electronic parts will be procured. Surface Mounting Technology (SMT) technology was selected during the preparation of the Metals Core Project. For this technology is characteristic that components and their outputs are placed on the same side of the printed circuit board, which is different from older technologies where components were laid through drilled holes and were tinkered on the other side.

Advantages of surface mounting technology:

  • miniaturization- savings in space and mass of the device up to 70%,
  • automatized production – complete production is automatized so the focus can be places in system design rather than production of components,
  • improved electronic characteristics – work speed is significantly increased,
  • improved mechanical characteristics – mechanical shock resistance,
  • number of outputs from the board is significantly higher.

Although SMT technology has its shortcomings, they are averted by developing systems which are in domain of small-series and prototype quantities.

Laboratory for prototyping

Laboratory for prototyping in its activities covers development of prototypes for innovations applicability testing in fields of digital management systems and special electronic circuits, advanced engineering materials, which will be used in the fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computing and similar fields. Focus of the laboratory will be on rapid small-series prototyping construction and testing.

For the needs of Laboratory for prototyping following spaces within Metal Core are foreseen:

  • 3D scan room
  • Design
  • Simulation
  • 3D DMLS
  • 3D SAND
  • Workshop for additional processing.

Following picture presents logical model in which will operate Laboratory for prototyping within Metal Core Čakovec.

Logical model in which will operate Laboratory for prototyping within Metal Core Čakovec

Working process in the Laboratory for prototyping starts with scanning or inputting geometry of certain object into computer. Equipment which is ordered is purposed for 3D scanning for the needs of development and design as an input for reverse engineering, i.e. it can be directly printed on 3D printers or usual process centres. Use of this equipment significantly shortens the time of digitalization (conversion of physical model to virtual model) and number of mistakes is significantly lower. Besides the development and design purpose, the equipment will be used for control of shape and dimensions of products. Due to the increase in complexity of products design, the tactile measurement (callipers, micrometres, coordinate measurement devices, profile projectors and such) does not fulfil current demands in quality control.

Industrial fields, such as automotive industry, casting, polymer processing, tin deforming, aviation, etc. in its work use 3D optical measurement methods as standards for 3D measurement, quality control and product development.

FDM technology (fused deposition modelling) is of great importance for Laboratory for prototyping. In this method thermoplastic compounds are added layer by layer. Equipment has a purpose of fast digital production of all plastic parts. FDM can build conceptual models, functional prototypes and plastic parts for final use from various types of thermoplastic, from standard plastic to high-performance plastic. It is the only professional 3D printing technology which uses thermoplastics of industrial quality, which makes parts stabile in terms of mechanical, physical and chemical properties. 3D printers which use FDM technology produce models layer by layer from base to the top through heating and pushing thermoplastic fibres. Building process is carried on in chamber under controlled conditions, by which is achieved high level of quality.

Current industrial demands, as well as design complexity of new products puts new challenges to development engineers and teams who design production processes. This challenges cannot be addressed in conventional way of production preparation. Poly jet 3D printing technology offers many advantages for rapid production of prototypes, tools and manufacturing parts, including fine details, smooth surfaces, speed and precision. The most advanced Stratasys system uses various different materials at the same time, which can install different properties and colours in 3D models. Connex3 system merges 3 materials to make composite materials with unique characteristics.

It is possible to combine rigid and flexible (rubber like) materials to simulate array of shore values. By mixing cyan, magenta and yellow colours one can get new shades of print. Mixing rubbery materials with colour, results in vivid, flexible prototypes, which look as finished products. It is possible to print ergonomic production tools and fixing objects, which combine materials of various hardness, non-skid surfaces and precise characteristics, such as threads.

Due to numerous combinations of materials and colours, Polyjet technology enables better aesthetics of prototypes and finished products in comparison to any other 3d printing technology.

DLMS technology (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) is used for printing metal products. In that way it is possible to build any metal position quickly and without special preparations. This technique is very fast and does not leave excess material. There are limitations in choice of materials, but for small serial and prototype production the choice is adequate. Because “layer by layer” manufacturing process, it is possible to make inside of the model.

Sand 3D printing technology is revolutionary and has ambition to entirely replace preparation of sand moulds and cores in casting, which represents significant part of that industry. Proposed technology, i.e. VX200 3D printer can in a quality way serve to make small models and be support for R&D projects between entrepreneurs and academia. Printer has resolution up to 300 dpi, i.e deposits layer of plastic and sand in amount of 300 microns. Model produced in such way completely replaces cores and models produced in conventional way.

Prototyping or additive procedures of metal products manufacture represent modern solution for current trends of mass adjustment to client demands on the market. Production quantities are decreasing with more frequent introduction of new products on the market. Many customers want custom-made products. For that reason prototyping provides cost effective approach in the cases of custom-made products (unique or small series production).



Development and Educational Centre for the Metal Industry – Metal Centre Čakovec

Bana Josipa Jelačića 22 D
40 000 Čakovec


T: +385 (0) 40 395 560
F: +385 (0) 40 395 142

PIN: 44226932013
IBAN: HR8324070001100057905 (OTP bank, Split)

The institution was registered in the Court Registry of the Commercial Court in Varaždin under the registered office number 070164393, the President of the Administrative Council - Ana Kralj.