Watch a 3D Printer Create an Inspection Fixture

Tag Archive: inspection

  1. Watch a 3D Printer Create an Inspection Fixture

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    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.

  2. Vision-Based Inspection: Manufacturing of the Future

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    Every manufacturer knows that product defects are a major cause of cost overruns and project delays.

    Quality of parts is an essential piece of the manufacturing puzzle. It is even more critical to the safety of applications, such as automotive parts. When there is absolutely no room for error, the inspection portion of the manufacturing process takes on a vital role.

    As an indication of our commitment to both quality and safety, our team at ESI has designed a customized assembly machine with the ability to inspect parts based on dozens of specific criteria. In just milliseconds — a speed faster than the blink of an eye — our machine can confirm that a part has been manufactured within the tolerances specified by our client.

    By leveraging the power of a vision-based inspection machine, we are able to verify parts with unparalleled speed and accuracy. The vision systems we use are capable of working far faster, and far more accurately than any human inspector.

    In the end, this means that we are able to deliver cost savings without having to sacrifice the quality of our products in any way.

    This photonics technology also promises an exciting future for the metal component industry. ESI and our vision inspection equipment were recently featured in a Photonics.com article called “The Value of the Visual,” which notes that:

    “If the results suddenly show a rising tide of parts being rejected, then that indicates an issue with the machine making the pins, or an issue elsewhere within the manufacturing process. Knowing that as soon as possible means that any necessary repairs can be started and completed as early as possible — a goal both ESI and its customers share.”

    ESI will continue to find ways to use the latest technologies for more applications and more industries. We are capable of turning out large production runs with defect rates of nearly zero, and we are already excited about what we will be able to accomplish in the future. The goal will always be the same: to produce the best parts possible at the lowest cost.

    To learn more about the services offered by ESI, contact us today. We look forward to showing you what our machines can do.

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