While 3D printing is changing the world in a number of ways, it's often the smaller uses that have the biggest effect, like its ability to create simple tools.
Those who have been following the rapid growth of 3D printing will most certainly be aware of the some of the larger developments defining the technology. While some enterprising individuals are using the devices to build cars and break land-speed records, there are many other every-day uses that are slipping under the radar.
There has been a lot of talk about how 3D printers will change the manufacturing sector, due mainly to its ability to speed up prototyping and reduce overall production costs. However, there are more uses for the technology than just creating final products. In fact, 3D-printed objects can be used when building or manufacturing almost anything.
The jig is up
Experienced manufacturers will be aware of the difficulty in creating jigs that perfectly match the tools and products they support. Then, each time a new product or prototype is debuted, manufacturers have to create a new jig that fits perfectly. For a process that can often require trial and error, it's important that businesses have the ability to reproduce jigs in a time- and cost-effective manner.
Not only is the jig production process faster with 3D printing, it's much quicker to design, relying on CAD files to create final products. Because of this, it's simple to redesign existing products and make changes as required.
Essentially, manufacturers can design jigs with their Autodesk software, and then send it to 3D printers for production, potentially taking it from concept to creation in a matter of hours.
View the video below to see how 3D printing essential jigs and fixtures in-house saves the MakerBot factory hundreds of thousands of dollars, and eliminates time spent communicating with outside suppliers. Imagine what 3D printing could do for your factory.
Create fixtures with 3D printers
The manufacturing tooling process relies on a range of supporting equipment to ensure products are built to the correct specification. Along with jigs, fixtures are essential to construct projects accurately.
Fixtures are similar to vices, in the sense that they hold products in place while engineers work on them. However, the key difference is that these are rarely generic products, and are instead designed to fill specific roles.
This last point is the reason why 3D printing is such a valuable development for manufacturers. As products evolve and new ones are debuted, the fixtures and related tools need to adapt accordingly. By 3D printing as many of these components as possible, manufacturers can make the process much more efficient.
Redstack offers a range of 3D printers as well as the software necessary to create designs for them. Read our 3D printing whitepaper to find out how these solutions can benefit your business.