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AdvancedTek Part of the Week – 11/28/16

November 28, 2016 News

No ears, guns or cars – just real parts and real applications.

Today’s part of the week highlights the use of 3D printed tools that help support lean process methodologies in manufacturing. Many of our customers that have direct access to additive technologies have found that they can quickly and easily produce organizational tooling to support their continuous improvement efforts and methodologies such as 5S or Kaizen. Here are three examples of 3D printing that we have seen bring unexpected value to our customers who are highly motivated to implement continuous improvement methodology in manufacturing.

The first examples show a fairly simple customized tool holder for an assembly workstation. 5S is a technique that results in a well-organized workplace complete with visual controls and order. It’s an environment that has “a place for everything and everything in its place, when you need it.” 3D printing/additive manufacturing allows users to produce custom tool holders that allow for better space savings, visual identification, and ergonomics than traditional “shadow board” methods. Many of our customers also utilize specialty colors like green, red, orange or yellow to further indicate tool organization, safety or critical processes. Some customers print custom fixtures as needed, while others use a modular method like the grey example in the photo below. We have even helped customers print modular vac form tooling to make customized trays for standard tool cabinets, which can be advantageous when volumes are higher.

The example of the red fixture below really demonstrates a customer that knows how to take the most advantage from additive manufacturing by designing a part that really would not be able to be produced cost effectively with any traditional manufacturing method. The primary goal for this particular customer’s continuous improvement group was to create space savings and an integrated assembly process. The red assembly fixture was designed as a cube with each side of the cube serving as a different step in the assembly process. This fixture combines 6 different fixtures into a single tool. Each side of the tool is labeled and controls the sequence of the assembly as well.

The final example is something we have seen more commonly with customers that follow the Kaizen methodology. The basic idea is to use 3D printing to help visualize the overall flow of a manufacturing facility. Customers will often print scaled models of their manufacturing facilities (similar to scaled architectural models) in order to have the ability to rearrange the production lines and review layout for best flow of product through assembly and manufacturing. One large industrial equipment manufacturer printed scaled models of all the components of a product and was able to use the models in a Kaizen initiative meeting that helped them create significant efficiencies in the flow of raw product and output on the floor. Another customer in the aerospace industry actually printed scaled models of office space before a remodel as a Kaizen effort to plan for the most efficient use of space and flow of people rather than product.

Please contact us if you’d like additional information about 3D printed continuous improvement tooling or other manufacturing applications. Please consider following AdvancedTek on LinkedIn for future samples and customer stories.

Posted by Matt Havekost, Director of Sales – Additive Manufacturing

Posted by Heather Adams