A manufacturing shop floor cannot be imagined without jigs and fixtures. While jig helps in improving repeatability, accuracy and interchangeability in manufacturing of products, fixtures are used to securely locate and support the work to ensure conformity while manufacturing.
The production efficiency as such relies heavily on these tools, despite being virtually invisible during the manufacturing process. Their importance however can be sensed when they fail and lead to production halts or product defects.
In order to avoid such halts and defective manufactured products, it is crucial to have multiple sets of jigs and fixtures ready or must be designed rapidly to deploy them at the right time.
However, the traditional manufacturing of jigs and fixtures is usually done by metal fabrication or are prepared from wood and plastics.
It is very much likely that the average time required to produce the jigs and fixtures can be significant, which can even grow further as the designs of these tools become more intricate.
Additionally, finalizing the design of these tools can take several physical test trials to attain required performance.
Rapid prototyping or 3D printing as such is an ideal approach in developing required jigs and fixtures immediately, just when needed.
The use of rapid prototyping can be highly beneficial for manufacturers in several ways:
The materials available for 3D printing today are tough and highly durable to withstand loads that encounter during the manufacturing process. The choice of bio-compatible materials further makes possible to develop tools for medical applications. With torrents of advantages, rapid prototyping is indeed a profitable decision to develop jigs and fixtures for a modern manufacturing era.
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Gaurang Trivedi is engineering consultant at TrueCADD. He has applied his engineering expertise across several highly complex and big scale projects, consequently managing to flawlessly deliver as per the client requirements.