Production Floor Trends:
Justifying Additive Manufacturing through Jigs & Fixtures
According to three owners of Stratasys Fortus machines, one-year profit gains ranged from $60,000 to $230,000 from just a few fixture-related applications.
There is an often-overlooked additive manufacturing (AM) application with potentially huge financial returns. Savings can be so large that they can justify the purchase of an AM (or 3D printing) system in far less time than the typical three to five year payback period the financial officer will demand.
The application is jig and fixture making — which also includes gauges, organizational aids and other manufacturing devices. AM produces these tools by adding material in an automated, layer-by-layer process rather than removing material with a cutter or forming it in a mold.
Replacing conventionally manufactured jigs and fixtures with additively manufactured ones will reduce the fabrication expense — often by 50 to 90 percent — while reducing labor and speeding delivery. But that financial advantage is tiny when compared to the profit gains that result from production-floor reductions in labor and time to market.