AdvancedTek Part of the Week – 1/21/16
This is one of my favorite applications for 3D printing that is extremely underutilized. I would categorize it as a lab fixture or test fixture. This customer is a local medical device manufacturer and they are required to test many aspects of their devices in the lab. One of these tests uses a tensile tester in order to identify how much force is required to pierce a membrane that simulates human tissue.
Traditionally, they would submit a work order for these lab tools to be produced by their internal machine shop. The normal lead time for parts from their machine shop was 2-3 weeks or even longer if they sent it to an outside shop.
With their design group having direct access to a professional Stratasys 3D printer (supplied by AdvancedTek), the test engineers decided to 3D print the tools. This allowed them to get parts in their hands much faster and ultimately meet their validation timelines. While the purchase of their Dimension Elite was initially justified solely for new product design, up to 80% of its use is now for fixtures in the lab. Some of these fixtures hang on the wall and have been in service for multiple years.
The smaller blue part simply holds the device (the orange and white colored handle or “lure”) which is mounted to the top end of the tensile tester. Magnets were inserted and used to make swapping out the test parts much quicker and easier.
The larger white part is mounted to the base of the tensile tester. The blue angled part retains a membrane that simulates human tissue. Printing the parts allowed them to print a wider range of different angles for the membrane retainer, which allowed for more comprehensive testing. Standard metal clamps were fastened to the parts with self tapping screws to allow for the membrane to be held in place with enough force while still enabling the retainers and membranes to be swapped out easily.
Please contact us if you’d like additional information about 3D printed lab tooling or other applications.
Posted by Matt Havekost, AdvancedTek Director of Sales – Additive Manufacturing