TEN fab, a contract producer of mechatronics, medical equipment and robotics (part of the TechnoSpark Group of Companies), switched to using 3D-printed customized jigs and fixtures to reduce production cost of the items that are ordered in small batches. 3D-printing is integrated into the system of digitalized production management that includes a system of tool management and cloud storage of digital copies of components.
3D-printed manufacturing tools are required for installation, fixture of parts and adaptation of machine elements to parameters of the parts so that metal works can be carried out without additional grips and with claimed precision. Both standard and customized accessories are used for parts that have an unconventional complex shape.
Customized 3D-printed plastic tools that TEN fab uses reduce consumption of materials involved in the production of parts, and free up capacities of contract-based production.
“The possibilities of 3D-printing help to optimize the shape of jigs and fixtures, reduce the number of elements in the construction which translates into its better ergonomic properties. Since customized additive tools are inexpensive to produce, there is no need to keep them in stock. It all adds up to the overall economic effect and enables us to offer more competitive prices for production of small batches of items,” Oleg Lysak, Director of TEN fab, says.
Over 30% of orders delivered by TEN fab entail application of customized manufacturing parts. Production of 3D-printed complex shapes contributes to the reduced cost of finished products by 10-15%.
Many companies around the world use printed tools in their production cycle, starting from giants like Ford and Siemens and up to small metal processing plants. 3D-printed manufacturing tools in Russia are mainly applied in the production of cast parts.
Printed parts are designed by Artek Blades, TEN fab’s partner, that creates a digital platform of technological solutions for 3D-printed tools in the high-tech industry. The company has compiled a catalog of basic shapes that makes it easier to adapt the construction of manufacturing tools to a certain technological process. It takes from a few hours to a few days to develop and produce the additive tool.
TEN fab uses additive tools of the following types:
- vice jaws: for fittings in clean operations, molded, prismatic;
- holders of molded parts for attachment in vice grips;
- holders of the micrometer of a customized geometry for QCD controllers;
- customized positioning welding accessories;
- stoppers of swivel workheads / holders of tools;
- protective covers of locations in zero-point reference systems;
- nozzles with cooling and lubricating fluid of customized shapes, including those to branch out the flow.
Metal jigs and fixtures are continued to be used in contract-based production that require great effort to fix parts and processing loads.