Jigs and Fixtures in the Manufacturing Landscape

In Singapore manufacturing landscape, many rely on specific tools and equipment to assist them in their day to day operation. These includes tools such as jigs, fixtures, templates and gauges to maintain quality and production efficiency. These tools can be used for various purposes such as:

Jig:              A device that guides the tools used to finish the job

Fixture:       A device which is used to hold the job in place

Other than being used in the production floor, jigs and fixtures can also be used in the inspection floor, in many cases an integral part of the manufacturing industry. These specialised tools rarely get recognized when production is running smoothly, however their importance become ever more evident the moment problem start to arise.  As a result, many companies recognise this as a potential hurdle in their manufacturing cycle and dedicate much time and resources towards the constant improvement and replacement of these specialised jigs and fixtures.

However, today one of the many fall backs of jigs and fixtures is the constraints of traditional methodologies in fabricating them. Most of the current jigs and fixtures in the production floor today are heavy and cumbersome. These result in slower production and inspection rate as well as huge investments into costly CNC machined parts. However with the integration of 3D Printing Technology, many of these jigs and fixtures can be produced quicker and at a much cost effective rate than traditional CNC milled parts.

Although being seen conventionally as being a rapid prototyping technology, professional 3D printers have moved beyond this and into “Direct Digital Manufacturing” applications. For instance, with Stratasys range of 3D printing materials, the material’s strength and properties, it provides companies with an alternative to traditionally machined metal, wood or plastic components.

 

FDM Technology – Benefits and Best Fit

Jigs and Fixtures_Img 2Stratasys FDM technology enables users to produce fast, strong and durable parts. It is an additive manufacturing process whereby layer upon layer of thermoplastics are extruded onto a built plate via the print head of the machine. These layers of thermoplastic are placed in a pattern on the built plate, following the data gathered from computer aided design (CAD) files.

As it is an additive manufacturing process, added complexities to the jigs or fixtures can now be added in without the worry for tool change which may lead to increase in production time. All these results in less expensive and less time consuming tool making process which helps improve the speed to market of the final product. In addition having this done in house enables designers to evaluate their design and optimize it for future production runs, this increases the overall efficiency of the production floor.

 

PolyJet Technology – Benefits and Best Fit

Jigs and Fixtures_Img 1Stratays PolyJet Technology enables users an alternative cost effective and fast method of producing jigs and fixtures. Likewise with the FDM technology, it is an additive process whereby UV sensitive resins are jetted out onto a build plate. These UV sensitive resins are cured by the UV lamps with each pass and solidifies immediately upon being extruded out onto the built plate. This process allows for PolyJet users to take advantage of its multi material capabilities, which is one of the most prominent benefits of the PolyJet technology.

The multi material capabilities of the PolyJet Technologies allows the production of specialized jigs and fixtures with a combination of rigid and flexible materials. This flexible coating provides a non-marring and anti-slip surface for production parts to be placed on to be worked on without the worry of potentially scratching the final product.

Additionally the multi material capabilities allows for the production of customized labels, instructions, guides or event identification number can be integrated into the jigs or fixture while it is being made. This approach ensures that the labels will not fade, come off in the long run or even being washed off.

With various technologies comes various benefits, however one of the biggest benefits 3D printing technology brings to manufacturers would be the “digital inventory” capability. Rather than producing and storing vast amounts of jigs or fixtures, manufacturers can now produce on demand, simply 3D Printing out the jigs or fixtures as and when needed. This eliminates the cost of storage and inventory control as well as potential time lost in attempts to locate an unfrequently used jigs or fixtures.

For more information on how 3D Printing can bring about vast benefits to your manufacturing floor, please proceed to www.creatz3d.com.sg. Alternatively you may choose to contact us at info@creatz3d.com or +65 6631 8555 for more details.