3D Printing Jigs and Fixtures in Large Format
3D Printing Jigs and Fixtures for Manufacturing Operations 3D printing (also know as additive manufacturing) has been adopted by a number of industry-leading companies to replace their current prototyping methods and as a standard part of the manufacturing process. 3D printing not only allows companies to create prototypes and evaluate and iterate designs quickly but also assists fabricating and modifying jigs and fixtures for manufacturing operations to reduce lead time and costs. Take this 3D printed Thread Rolling Machine Die Holder as an example, it is custom designed to house several production instruments (including a pair of die, blot, test pieces) in one easy-to-access place. 3D printed on a large format 3D printer, all in one piece, this die holder allows the machine operator to retrieve all tools needed for one job quickly, and store the entire set of instruments conveniently in one place.The Solution Using open market 3D modeling software, such as CAD and Simplify3D, the engineer quickly designed the die holder model and 3D printed it in one piece using a large format 3D printer. Using PLA material, the engineer was able to 3D print the actual piece at a low cost. Result After two design iterations, the 3D printed Thread Rolling Machine Die Holder was put to use and proved to be an excellent solution for streamlining manufacturing operations at a low cost.
Thread Rolling Machine Die Holder – Project at a Glance The Challenge The thread rolling machine has 50 sets of cylindrical dies that require proper storage to avoid contamination and corrosion over time. Also, to streamline machine operations and implement 5S (a workplace organizational methodology), each set of dies needs to be stored with its pairing test pieces, and bolt. To produce a die holder in such low volume with traditional tooling/injection molding methods requires at least 2–5 weeks lead time, and costs a minimum of $300 per piece.
Project Timeline & Cost The entire project finished within one week, including two design iterations and 3D print time for the first two test pieces (20 hours print). Using PLA material. $100 material cost per piece (vs. a minimum of $300 per piece with traditional methods).