“With some traditional fixture projects costing over $100,000, the savings can be substantial.”
— Bill Fish, Oreck
The motor, brush, and other components are assembled
inside the cover.
The bottom cover is then positioned and fastened down.
The custom assembly pallets consist of four plastic posts
on a Bosch aluminum pallet base. The unit with plastic base
shown here is used as a backup.
Custom Assembly Solutions
For every series of vacuum that Oreck Manufacturing makes, it produces 40 to 50 identical
assembly pallets. This was the case for the company’s Titanium Series, the XL21 upright
commercial vacuum. This high-end unit provides the user with features such as hypo-allergenic
filtration, adjustable two-speed motor and advanced sound-dampening technology
The production floor pallets secure the top cover of the vacuum in a precise position so that the
vacuum can be assembled quickly and easily. After placing the motor, fan housing and other
support components into the stationary top cover, the bottom cover is attached.
Each assembly fixture consists of four plastic posts that attach to a standard
Bosch assembly pallet. Besides being specifically aligned to accept the cover
housing, the fixture components maintain tolerances of 0.003 inch (0.0762 mm) so
that the cover is held firmly in place.
Oreck’s engineering team designs the components needed for each fixture using
standard CAD tools. According to Oreck Senior Model Maker Bill Fish, “Designing
the fixture components is fairly easy. We already have a file for standard support
posts. So, we add the 3D top cover, embed it into the support post, then blow
away the cover. The whole job takes about an hour and a half.”
In the past, Oreck used only traditional methods to produce the assembly fixtures.
These included silicone or epoxy molds and urethane castings with inserts. Several
years ago Oreck added two large Fortus 3D Production Systems, which use FDM
Technology. With FDM, Oreck has the option of using additive manufacturing to
create the fixtures, which they take advantage of whenever possible.
“Using additive manufacturing reduces fixture production costs by up to 65
percent, because we produce the fixtures in-house,” said Fish. “With some
traditional fixture projects costing over $100,000, the savings can be substantial.”
At this rate, machines can pay for themselves with just a small number of projects.
3D Printing for the Whole Business
3D printing the pallet assembly fixture is only the beginning. Maintaining the pallets
in a tough production setting is as important as getting original parts. “If for some
reason a fixture component is chipped or broken during use, we can replace it
quickly and easily in-house. Anything that takes a pallet off line costs us money,”
“We keep the Fortus systems working 24/7,” said Fish. Besides creating fixtures,
Oreck uses FDM technology extensively to produce prototypes, as well as
models for marketing photos and commercials. “We also use the machines to
produce specialized assembly tools, CMM (coordinate measuring machine)
fixtures engineering test fixtures and CNC milling fixtures. We also make complete
mockups. The machines are only limited by your imagination.”
|Traditional Molding & Casting