North American tooling manufacturing company, Eckhart, has definitely seen tangible effects regarding the effectiveness of additive manufacturing for their production line, following the implementation of FDM 3D printing solutions from Stratasys, the global additive manufacturing leader.
The benefits were highlighted by Andy Storm, CEO and President of Eckhart, at the recent ARC Industry in Orlando, where he talked up how additive manufacturing has been a significant journey for the company.
Operator safety has also been enhanced with AM which is arguably one of 3 important pillars for Eckhart besides quality and productivity and should be at the core of any factory.
Here are some tooling solutions that Eckhart has implemented:
This 3D printed tool printed using Nylon 12 CF helped to eliminate rework when installing a brake pedal under the automobile dashboard.
Previously, the assembler had to secure the pedal in the right orientation while holding the pedal at the same time as the fastener is being tightened.
Just imagine trying to position the clutch and brake and getting them to mount correctly for safe operation.
Now, the 3D printed tool is able to provide a consistent and fixed position so that the assembler can locate the pedal in the correct position every time with little effort as everything just snaps into place.
Surrogate Components for Cell TryOut
It is often challenging to get big OEM customers to share surrogate parts, especially when it comes to doing first article tests on newly commissioned production lines.
Instead of waiting for weeks, additive manufacturing allows you to just get the 3D digital files from the OEM customers, 3D print the part, and run it off the system.
Wiper Install Tool
Typically for an assembler, it’s an ergonomic nightmare having to install a wiper blade onto a new vehicle entering the station every 45 seconds.
So, Eckhart partnered with Stratasys to develop a 3D printed jig that locates off the motor body of the wiper – assisting the operator to just suction the tool to the vehicle’s windshield.
The firm-fixed location as a result of the jig allows for consistent installation of the wiper blade by the assembler and eliminating any rework or quality issues downstream.
“You don’t buy a 3D printer, wake up the next day, and begin designing and printing additive solutions,” said Storm as he highlighted how some simple wins are aiding in the journey for their workers at Eckhart to “think additively” with confidence and experience moving forward.
Source: Stratasys Blog