AdvancedTek Part of the Week – 8/31/16
No ears, guns or cars – just real parts and real applications.
Today’s part of the week is a “Test Fixture” from a large manufacturer in Minnesota. According to Wikipedia, “In testing electronic equipment such as circuit boards, electronic components, and chips, a test fixture is a device or setup designed to hold the device under test in place and allow it to be tested by being subjected to controlled electronic test signals.” These types of test fixtures are one of the fastest growth applications for additive manufacturing primarily for three reasons:
Direct access to 3D printers offers this customer a convenient way to manufacture complex cavities directly from the CAD data. Designers and Manufacturing Engineers can offset the existing CAD data from the part that is to be tested in order to generate the nesting features for the tool. If the CAD data for the part is not available, measurements can be taken in order to create the CAD model for the fixture. Here is a good simple example of designing a holding fixture from scratch: http://blogs.solidworks.com/tech/2016/01/3d-printing-jigs-fixtures.html
Direct Access to 3D Printing offers this customer the ability to introduce additional complexity into fixtures that help solve problems differently than traditional manufacturing. This might translate to radii, blind holes, undercuts or overhangs that would not normally be viable for machine tool setups. These types of features help to route wires easier, make the tooling easier to use (poka-yoke) or just eliminate the need for assembly of components. In this particular case, the 3D printed part was designed with an easy-to-use latching mechanism to make it easier and faster for the operator to cycle through the test. While the latch mechanism could have been machined using traditional methods, it would not have been economically viable due to the number of setups and the associated cost of adding in this type of complexity. 3D Printing offers a convenient way to produce complex components that would not be economically viable with traditional manufacturing methods. The increased ease of use of this fixture allowed the operator to cycle through more test operations faster, which led to significant cost savings for this local customer.
Direct access to 3D Printing offers this customer the ability to select the right material for the application at hand. Stratasys’ Production Systems, such as the Fortus 380mc, are set apart due to their ability to run a wide range of thermoplastics with accuracy and reputability, which allows our customers to select a material that meets their particular requirement without compromise. In this case, the customer selected PC material due to its combination of strength and surface finish. The lubricity of PC happens to be similar to this customer’s traditional test fixture materials (e.g., Delrin) and help to prevent marring on the front facing surfaces of the parts during the testing procedure. Other common materials for applications like this are PC-ABS, ABS-ESD7 and ULTEM 9085.
Please contact us if you’d like additional information about 3D printed Testing Fixtures or other applications.
Please consider following AdvancedTek on LinkedIn for future samples and customer stories.
Posted by Matt Havekost, AdvancedTek Director of Sales – Additive Manufacturing