Watch a 3D Printer Create an Inspection Fixture

In a relatively short amount of time, 3D printing has had quite an impact on the manufacturing sector.

As 3D printing becomes more prominent in the public sphere, it opens up a world of opportunities for manufacturers. 3D printing technology is “additive,” meaning manufacturers can use the minimum material needed to fabricate the part — delivering less waste and more material cost savings.

Today, 3D printing in manufacturing is used for multiple applications. In an effort to deliver error-free metal stamping projects, ESI uses 3D printing in an unexpected way — we 3D print quality inspection fixtures.  By 3D printing these fixtures for each custom designed part, we can accelerate the inspection process and deliver quicker turnaround. Here’s how it works.

Step 1: 3D Print the Fixture

Quality inspection fixtures are specially designed by ESI engineers to hold stamped metal parts in place during the quality inspection processes. Using 3D CAD drawings, we design a unique inspection fixture for every stamped metal part we produce.

The fixtures — designed to hold stamped parts in place without impeding the quality assurance process, and for easy loading and unloading — are 3D-printed using ABS plastic on a weekly basis.

Depending on the size and complexity of the fixture, the 3D printing process takes about 3 hours to complete. Magnets can also be easily incorporated onto the fixtures for optimal adherence to the inspection machine.

Step 2: Inspect the Part

We inspect large volumes of our parts with a coordinate measuring machine (CMM), as seen in the video above, which also shows how our 3D printed fixtures really prove their value.

The Benefits of 3D

Without a 3D printer to create custom inspection fixtures, manufacturers must either:

  1. Outsource their fixtures or
  2. Use other means, such as clamps, to hold parts to CMM beds.
  3. CNC Machine their fixtures

Outsourcing inspection fixtures can add unnecessary time and cost investments to a project. Affixing parts to CMM beds with clamps takes time, negatively impacting the number of pieces that can be inspected, and can potentially damage the parts. And, CNC machining is costly and time consuming.

With custom designed and 3D printed inspection fixtures, setting up a piece is quick and efficient, allowing for a greater volume of inspection and, therefore, lower defect rates.

To view the array of varying parts that we have 3D printed inspection fixtures for, visit our Sample Gallery today.


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