3D Printing for Custom Fixture Components
Fixture interfaces and custom components can be quickly and easily produced using RapidFit software and FDM Technology.
Modular Fixtures & Components
A modular fixturing system is a versatile alternative to a single–purpose, dedicated fixture. Constructed from a kit of interchangeable components, the modular fixture is easily reconfigured for any workholding application. When not in use, the fixture can be dismantled for convenient storage.
Modular systems are ideal for intermittent or one–time use. They are commonly used to:
- Stage parts for CMM inspections
- Hold work pieces during machining
- Position parts when bonding or assembling
For these applications, the modular system saves time and reduces cost.
While the majority of the modular fixture is constructed from standard components, the interface is custom made with FDM technology on a Fortus 3D Production System. At each support point, an FDM contact element acts as the transition from the part’s surface to the fixture’s grid plate, pillar or beam. These contact elements can be manually designed in CAD, but this design effort may take more time than that to construct the FDM elements.
The Magics RapidFit module provides a faster and easier way to create the STL files for the custom FDM elements. This software, created by Materialise, automates the digital design process. With just a few mouse clicks, the files are ready for building on a Fortus system. Just a few hours later, the fixture is assembled and ready for use.
1. Design Fixture:
Option A – Use CAD program
Option B – Use Materialise RapidFit
- Import the STL file of the part to be fixtured into Magics RapidFit. Also, import or create the files for the modular components of the fixture.
- Begin the design by positioning the part, grid plate, pillars and beams in the desired configuration.
- To create the custom contact elements, select the fixture support points and specify the type of contact to use and the direction to the grid plate. The RapidFit software will automatically create the contact elements and label each with a location and part name. RapidFit also documents the assembly plan.
2. Manufacture Fixture Components:
Import the STLs of the contact elements into Insight and prepare them for building. All Fortus materials and build styles may be used. However, ABS–M30, PC, PC-ABS with soluble supports and a solid fill are recommended.
When the build is complete, simply remove the support structures and proceed to assembly.
3. Construct Fixture:
Gather the grid plate, pillars, beams and FDM components. Following the assembly instructions, place the FDM components on the beams and pillars, and connect the beams to the grid plate. The modular fixture is now ready for its inspection or manufacturing application.
Tools Without Tooling
3D printed tools, molds and tool masters add a new layer of cost efficiency and flexibility to the factory floor. Not only can you cost-effectively produce tools for prototype testing and manufacturing low volumes of final parts, you can create made-to-order assembly tools customized for each task. In addition, you can create a leaner manufacturing environment, enabling quick production of tools, when and where they’re needed to speed the manufacturing process and reduce costs.
Optimized assembly tools, made to order
Improve manufacturing efficiency with job-specific jigs and assembly fixtures, 3D printed on demand in just hours. 3D printing tools directly from CAD data, on-demand, saves time, lowers costs and reduces inventory requirements. In addition, you can easily create customized lightweight, ergonomic tools that increase workflow efficiency.
3D printed Injection molds
Imagine producing injection molds without costly CNC tools. With Stratasys thermoplastics and photopolymers, you can quickly 3D print injection molds to evaluate prototype parts or produce low volumes of end use parts. This is especially useful to test the design, fit and function of products before mass production. If changes are required, new mold iterations can be 3D printed in just a few hours at minimal cost.
3D print customized, low volume durable parts with fine details and smooth surface finishes
Stratasys additive manufacturing enables you to 3D print strong, functional final parts on demand directly from CAD data. Because the part is created digitally layer by layer, complex geometries and sophisticated features that would be difficult to produce using traditional manufacturing methods are now easily achieved with Stratasys additive manufacturing. Producing end use parts with Stratasys technology not only dramatically reduces your production costs and delivery times, it also reduces inventory while creating exciting new supply chain efficiencies and new business models.