While many manufacturing industries continue to depend heavily on jigs and fixtures for consistent reliability, the way they are handling the production of these tools is constantly changing.
According to a 2021 survey by Jabil, 57% of surveyed companies chose to 3D print their own products over the last few years – a significant increase from 2019.
By choosing to 3D print their own equipment, companies quickly learned they are not only able to streamline their workflow from manufacturing tools to actual production, but they can also reduce lead times by 25% while cutting costs in half.
Here are 6 reasons companies should 3D print their jigs and fixtures:
- Speed Up Production: As well as creating jigs and fixtures, business owners are speeding up production time by using additive manufacturing to create holding devices such as dunnage trays, kits, guides and templates. By creating these tools in-house, 37% of business owners agree they no longer experience a manufacturing bottleneck when production is not running efficiently due to parts supply shortages.
- Maintain Control: Instead of running the risk of stopping production, should a crucial piece of equipment break, 3D printing your own tools allows you total control over when you receive your pieces, as well as the the material you use. This could include material density, consolidated grippers, fixture components and much more.
- Customize Equipment: Opting to 3D print customized protective guards and covers enables a more seamless production with minimum need for maintenance. Materials used in 3D printing — such as FDM Nylon 12 — have been proven to be tough and impact resistant in testing conditions on the production floor.
- Increase Employee Safety: Instead of using traditional metal tools, 3D printing your jigs and fixtures with light thermoplastic replacements will help to prevent strain on your operators by improving worker safety and comfort. Jigs and fixtures can also be customized with 3D printing systems to include modeling for hand-held assembly tools. This in turn promotes better ergonomics for your business.
- Enhance Quality Control: 3D printing part-specific tools such as cradles, text-fixture components and measurement aids will help back up your quality-control process and reduce the overall cost of inspection templates. Using multi-material 3D printing capabilities also allows you to add non-slip or static dissipative materials that won’t wear down finished surfaces or damage sensitive components.
- Personalized Logistics: You can also take personalization to the packing area of your business by creating customizable dunnage trays, kits and boxes to enhance the portability of components required for transportation. By streamlining the movement of parts within your facility or during shipment, you’ll be speeding up your production time, saving you money in the process.