One of the key elements of a good lean manufacturing system is the ability to spin up new work cells quickly. In our case, spinning up a new cell requires us to create all kinds of custom fixtures and other tooling.
Given the broad mix of products we make, custom fixtures have become second nature to us. And we have a talented group of in-house toolmakers who can turn out machined fixtures and other workholding devices in a flash.
Yet, because we live and breathe lean manufacturing here, we're always looking to become even more efficient at tooling production. That's where 3D printing comes in.
Our engineers are now using 3D printing to create custom inserts that function as part of a hybrid fixture—which also includes a machined structural or support component.
The ability to create the inserts as part of CAD design workflow and combine them with interchangeable support components has shaved days off our tooling process.
The biggest beneficiaries of 3D printing have been our customers—because the faster we can tool up, the faster we can start shipping your parts.