Assemble with ease.
With the help of Fortus 3D Printers from Stratasys, the company designed and manufactured a jig for an automotive supplier, which uses it to assemble high-volume plastic door seals. After developing several iterations of the jig, Solaxis was not only able to produce a 3D printed jig that is over 100 pounds lighter than a typical jig for this application, but it also slashed the design and manufacturing time by at least two-thirds compared with traditional methods.
Iterations on demand.
Solaxis design engineers continued to refine
the door seal assembly jig, producing at least
a dozen different design iterations over the
last couple of years. The rapid speed at which
the designs could be completed through CAD
software and then quickly printed with Fortus 3D printers was relatively new for their automotive
customer. The customer has an in-house injection
molding, and a machine shop with mold and die
“From design to design, we could easily make changes,” he added. “It’s not like we had to come back (to the customer) and say, ‘We have to redo your tooling’.” This agility increases the flexibility of design, enabling Solaxis engineers to integrate minor adjustments, such as the placement of buttons and handles, the addition of chutes, and other ergonomic improvements.
This also enabled Solaxis to lessen the number of parts in the design, integrating off-the-shelf internal hardware that can be quickly replaced by the customer if a switch or wire breaks. Depending on the part complexity, engineers can make CAD iterations in just eight to 20 hours, Guilbault said. Solaxis and the customer’s engineers shared files to quickly confirm the design and produce a new jig within days. Unlike a jig produced primarily by an operator using a CNC machine, Fortus 3D Printers can run without supervision, with production scheduled at any time of the day or night, and on weekends. The results were clear to the customer. “We shrank the overall design/ manufacturing cycle time, which is traditionally, 16 to 20 weeks, to three to five weeks,” Guilbault said.