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Application story - 3D printed jigs & fixtures

28 April 2017

Rutland Plastics (RP) delivers custom plastic injection moulding services and can 3D print custom jigs and fixtures to hold and position the moulded parts.

On production floors worldwide, people depend on jigs and fixtures to enhance manufacturing processes. These custom-made tools enable steps such as assembly, alignment and work holding with optimal efficiency and minimal scrap. 

Often made with CNC machining or other in-house fabrication equipment, and commonly is one of the final steps before production can begin. Rutland Plastics discovered a host of positives when switching jig and fixture fabrication to 3D printing instead; faster turnaround, improved efficiency and performance through greater design freedom, and it frees up production equipment to focus on production. 

Rutland Plastics (RP) delivers custom plastic injection moulding services for a broad spectrum of customers across a diverse range of industries. Many of the assembly and inspection operations RP performs require the use of jigs and fixtures to hold and position the moulded parts.

Carl Martin, Rutland Plastics Technical Manager explained “most of the fixtures we create are designed specifically for each customer’s unique parts. A typical CNC machined aluminium fixture can possibly take three days to make and cost around £1,000 upwards. Utilising our Stratasys Connex 3D printer, used in the main for rapid prototyping, we are able to print custom jigs and fixtures with speed and accuracy. While the multi material capability of our printer means we can fabricate rubber-like soft touch pads (to prevent marring), and identification labels, logos and text all within the one build”.

The cost of producing a typical fixture has been significantly reduced and the lead time dropped to 24 hours. The process is also more efficient since engineers can simply set up the 3D printer and walk away, letting the 3D printer do its work overnight.

“We can produce jigs and fixtures in a fraction of the time and cost on the 3D printer without tying up production machinery,” said Martin. “Additive manufacturing eliminates the constraints of CNC machining, which makes it possible to improve the productivity of our operations by improving the functionality of the fixtures.”

Rutland Plastics 3D print bureau for jigs & fixtures

Need a jig, fixture or check gauges, whether you are looking for a simple or complicated design speak to our experienced engineers about your application or visit http://www.rutlandplastics.co.uk/prototyping/


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