“MANIFOLD” project – Co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020

Project co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020

Innovative Additive Manufacturing of fiber-reinforced composites for industrial and medical applications

MANIFOLD project proposes to innovate 3D printing technology, developing a new anthropomorphic printing robot for shoe making industry, for the production of shoe lasts in reinforced composite materials.

Shoe lasts have been presently manufacturing in thermoplastic materials by subtractive manufacturing with numeric control machines, and further reinforced locally with metallic inserts to guarantee the necessary stiffness to withstand solicitation during shoes manufacturing. Such shoe lasts are designed and machined to be coupled with the systems for handling and movement by robotized lines.

The shoe last manufacturing process have some limitations as low productivity, high last weight, limited geometric precision and the production of scraps due to mechanical machining.



MANIFOLD project proposes the development of a very innovative process by using additive manufacturing technology with composite materials applied with an anthropomorphic printing robot arm, for the production of lightened hollow lasts and in the presence of undercuts. The use of fiber-reinforced composite materials allows obtaining lighter products with higher mechanical performances, compared with the state of art represented by 3D printed thermoplastics.

Such new process, proposing a revolutionary solution for making shoe lasts, allows reducing manufacturing times of 50% and last weight of 40%. Furthermore, in consideration of a wider use of CAD tools in the future by the stylists for shoes design, the proposed solution is expected to be particularly relevant for increasing shoe industry productivity.

The new additive manufacturing line of shoe lasts will be also equipped with sensors interfaced to IoT systems for the monitoring of energetic and technological performances, with the goal of developing a predictive maintenance system based on diagnostic algorithms generated by the big data analysis generated.


Robot System Automation srl (COORDINATOR): company successfully operating in the industrial automation sector, with core business in shoes manufacturing field. In MANIFOLD, RSA deals with the design and production of the mechanical and electric parts of new anthropomorphic arm hosting the extrusion head, comprising the process control system.

ROBORIS Srl: Company developing software for industrial uses and for programming numeric control machine tools, anthropomorphic robots and their movement simulation. In MANIFOLD, Roboris deals with the development of the software to transfer the 3D last model into a program used by the robot, and the design of the algorithms to implement manufacturing strategies.

Nuova SIMAT Srl: Company acting in the field of mechanical precision production. In MANIFOLD, Nuova SIMAT deals with the design, manufacturing and validation of the highly portable robotized station by mechanical and electrical point of view.

Big Data Tech Srl: Company specialized in IT solutions for Big Data. In MANIFOLD, Big Data Tech deals with the development of the predictive maintenance system, and supported by its subcontractor KEPLERO of the design and production of the sensor interface.

Eng. Massimo Liggio: Expert consultant, developer of embedded firmware systems and hardware design for the managing of man-to-machine interfaces, remote management of industrial apparatuses and machine-to-machine communication (networking). In MANIFOLD, Eng. Liggio deals with firmware design for the sensor and actuators control.

GIMAX 3D (subcontractor): Company specialized in design and manufacturing of 3D printers- In MANIFOLD, GIMAX 3D deals with design and manufacturing of the extrusion head for 3D printing, with formulation and supplying of fiber-reinforced composite material filaments.

Laboratori ARCHA srl (subcontractor): R&D and analysis laboratory, in MANIFOLD deals with the selection of the polymeric matrices and reinforcements for the design and formulation of the composite materials.


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“MANIFOLD” project – Co-financed under Tuscany POR FESR 2014-2020