Fixtures fix parts in a precise location so that they can be worked on. A jig guides or places a tool to the right, location, depth or action. Jigs & fixtures aid workers through making their actions more precise, accurate or repeatable. Through the use of jigs and fixtures in manufacturing, a part assembly can be optimized and controlled to improve quality. Jigs and fixtures themselves can also be made specifically for quality control or quality assurance to check if a part is dimensioned correctly for example. In the current manufacturing landscape, there is an increased need for precise jigs and fixtures. More customized goods, shorter production runs, shorter lead times, more SKU and more competition mean that specialized jigs & fixtures are required faster and in higher numbers. How could metal 3D printing help manufacturers in this regard?
Shorter production runs require faster changeovers. At the same time changeovers need to be done accurately. Employees must be ready and able to switch to new tasks. Having the right jigs and fixtures at hand means that low error rates can be maintained at higher pressure work environments. By precisely indicating where a task needs to be done and guiding how it is being done errors are reduced. Where in a previous era just one jig may have lasted for years, now many more jigs are needed for less time. Metal 3D printing lets one quickly create jigs and fixtures so that staff can focus on getting the new job done.
3D printing in metal lets you produce highly specialized jigs and fixtures to reduce errors in production. No matter how specialized the jig or how complex the shape, metal 3D printing can provide a part. The increased design freedom of metal 3D printing means that new forms will be available and unique solutions can be made for individual problems. If a jig does not suffice, a new one can be designed and printed in days. Should this one be the right one, thousands could be made in subsequent days to be given to all the necessary staff.
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