Advice on 3D Printer for Jigs and Fixtures

R

rbuckman

#1
Looking for input on using 3D printed jigs and fixtures to hold parts for inspection on CMM or Vision systems.
What 3D printers offer the best surface finish for the money?
What issues have been observed in using 3D printed jigs and fixtures?
What materials are best for this use?

Thanks!
 
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P

PaulJSmith

#2
Re: Seeking advice on 3D Printer for Jigs and Fixtures

We don't have a 3D printer in-house, but we outsource some of our assembly fixtures to companies who build them for us. Our experience has been that, depending on the material and design, there is a wide variety of options available ... some more feasible than others. Our first few attempts ended with broken fixtures, due to brittle, inadequate material and flimsy design. More recent attempts have been more fruitful for us. However, we still don't know about long-term wear issues, as we've only been using them for about 6 months at this point. So far, so good, though.

Perhaps (and likely) someone else here has more experience in this arena.
 
B

blargon

#3
Re: Seeking advice on 3D Printer for Jigs and Fixtures

I 3D print polymer jigs & fixtures. I'd give similar advice as Paul..the polymer materials are brittle, so watch the wall thicknesses and potential stress concentrations during design. Durability would be a concern. I use an objet500 to print acrylic-like materials. High quality mode (layer thickness = 16 μm) with gloss finish setting gives a good surface finish. The edge finish is rougher. For a CMM / VMM fixture I presume you'd use it to hold the component, reference off fiducial markers?
 
R

rbuckman

#4
Thanks for the responses. I'm new to these printers and am curious of price points for the printer and the materials. Also have budget constraints. The majority of parts being inspected are small (> 6"X6"X6"). I would be holding these in rough location for VMM and using slight clamping/interference holding for CMM.
 
B

blargon

#5
Well I'd reckon the low end printers, that use filament (ABS, PLA, etc) would be of limited use for your application...potentially for very rough locating. The higher end model I use prints a UV curable polymer & support material - so the support material has to be factored into cost too. I would justify the cost of 3D printing if the part had a complex 3D geometry, if the jig was complicated (multiple setups or 5 axis machining required, etc.) or if jig consisted of multiple components. And if it was to be used for a one-off / low-volume inspection: long-term durability and positioning accuracy would be a concern.
 
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Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
It appears to me, from the OP's comments, that primary consideration should turn to the materials used for the jig or fixture in terms of finish, strength, dimensional stability. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I'd turn to a 3 D printing service bureau which uses multiple printers and materials for advice. Depending on the number and variety of jigs and fixtures required, it may be more cost effective to use a service bureau rather than bring 3 D production, training, space, and material inventory in-house to just make jigs and fixtures. If required, I can point to trade magazines and journals for lists of such 3D printing service bureaus.

(The advantage of using a service with machines from different manufacturers is avoiding the "if I only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" syndrome.)
 
B

blargon

#7
Hi rbuckman, if you like, feel free to pm me and I could take a look at the design you have in mind
 

Marc

Hunkered Down for the Duration
Staff member
Admin
#8
Forum PM (Private Messaging)

Hi rbuckman, if you like, feel free to pm me and I could take a look at the design you have in mind
:topic: As a "heads up" courtesy FYI, it takes 10 posts in "business" forums (of which this is one) for anyone to use the PM system other than to PM me. rbuckman doesn't have the number of required posts yet to PM you. If you want to make contact, either, or both, of you can PM me and give me permission to give the other your email address so you can communicate directly.

Reference: Forum Private Messaging System

And/or you can go to your User CP > Edit Your Profile Details and put in your email address there - BUT, it will then be visible to the public in your Profile!!!

For https encrypted communications, use: Edit Your Profile Details

I apologise for this inconvenience, but over the years I have found without the 10 post minimum requirement to use the PM system here, people would register here, not post anything and :spam: people in PMs. I appreciate your understanding.
 
R

rbuckman

#9
It appears to me, from the OP's comments, that primary consideration should turn to the materials used for the jig or fixture in terms of finish, strength, dimensional stability. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, I'd turn to a 3 D printing service bureau which uses multiple printers and materials for advice. Depending on the number and variety of jigs and fixtures required, it may be more cost effective to use a service bureau rather than bring 3 D production, training, space, and material inventory in-house to just make jigs and fixtures. If required, I can point to trade magazines and journals for lists of such 3D printing service bureaus.

(The advantage of using a service with machines from different manufacturers is avoiding the "if I only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail" syndrome.)
A list of trade magazines and journals would be helpful. Thanks!
 
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