3D Printing Jigs, Fixtures and Gauges
Jigs, custom-made tools are a manufacturing staple and are used to guide and control the motion of another work piece during an operation, and fixtures, devices used to hold a piece in a fixed location during an industrial process, are used to produce products reliably and repeatedly.
With fast and near labor-free production, 3D printing offers a powerful solution for producing jigs and fixtures. 3D printing manufacturing aids can reduce lead times, provide cost savings, improve performance and add efficiencies to the production floor.
The beauty of 3D printing is shorter lead times; some parts can be produced in a matter of hours. Prototyping a jig or fixture to test its performance is sometimes critical and can be accomplished with 3D printing faster than ever before. 3D printed jigs and fixtures are built from a digital file rather than hard tooling, allowing you to produce aids on-demand and as needed. The CAD file can be updated and redesigned at any time, then reprinted and delivered in days.
Reduction of Costs
With advantages such as quick turnarounds, part consolidation and near labor-less production, 3D printing jigs and fixtures delivers an overall cheaper venture. The process also reduces material waste and helps you avoid costly expenses associated with inventory and storage.
The ease of customization and ergonomic enhancements with 3D printed jigs and fixtures delivers an overall improved performance on the production floor. CAD files can be easily modified before each build, allowing for the painless customization of tools and aids. With additive manufacturing’s design freedoms, these customizations can include contours that improve tool handling and ease of use to help increase worker comfort. With no added cost, the jigs and fixtures can increase efficacy and safety for employees.
A complicated jig or fixture that may have been designed for manufacturability and requires extensive machining or other conventional production methods can find new value with 3D printing technology. The design freedom of additive manufacturing removes traditional manufacturing constraints and opens new opportunities for tool configuration. Because of the technology’s ability to handle design complexity, tools previously envisioned with multiple components can be redesigned as one contiguous component.
This component consolidation also contributes to creating a lighter weight tool, increasing in worker comfort. Strong plastics used in 3D printing processes are an excellent alternative to conventional metals. Light-weight, 3D printed jigs and fixtures produce the same, or better, functionality while improving ease of use.
3D printing jigs and fixtures is best suited for lower quantities runs. The easy accessibility of a digital file allows you to produce aids as needed. This “digital inventory” is always available and allows you to update and redesign tools quickly and effortlessly.
If a part is designed for a tolerance +/- 0.005” or +/-0.0015 inch over inch, whichever is greater, AM can deliver the part straight off the machine. The complementary partnership of additive and conventional manufacturing can enhance the benefits that can be achieved with either process on its own. However, there are many instances in which no machining is required for AM jigs and fixtures, which saves valuable time and money.
The Powerful Solution
The improvements offered by 3D printed jigs and fixtures can add up to major advantages for your company. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing produces aids for nearly every stage in manufacturing, and our Professional Services team can help you identify opportunities to implement 3D printed jigs and fixtures to streamline your operations.
Video Credit: PROTO3000 is a Engineering Solutions company that extensively leverages 3D printing to solve tough engineering problems
Reduction in cost
Reduction in Time
Inventory & warehousing
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“One of the main applications they use 3D printing for is custom workpiece holders which mount on the machine conveyors.”
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3D Printing is set to revolutionaize the way several industries work, from Medicine to Space Exploration to Education.
Learning and adopting 3D Prinring in your field may just be the Next Big Thing in your industry or workplace