JJ Churchill has significantly reduced the cost and time it takes to prepare fixtures for quality inspection thanks to 3D printing.
The company worked in partnership with with HK3D to produce the fixtures, which are being used for an OEM in the aerospace industry.
The fixture was needed to hold the components in the most effective orientation for the coordinate-measuring machine (CMM). It reportedly needed to deliver repeatable precision loading and ease of use.
Usually a fixture could only be manufactured once the components have already been machined, a process which typically took two weeks. Using 3D printing, a working fixture can now be produced in three days.
Traditionally the fixture would have been manufactured by machining out of a block of metal. The new process not only saves time, but also reduced costs by half – with much less waste.
It also removed a potential bottle neck. Traditional manufacturing prove-out processes follow a linear path: write the CMM programme; wait for components to be machined; prove-out CMM programme; CMM programme for production.
With the middle two steps prone to becoming a bottle neck, JJ Churchill and HK3D developed an alternative solution for fixturing to remove this bottle neck.
Karan Singh, one of JJ Churchill’s manufacturing engineers and the lead in additive manufacturing, explained: “The benefits of bringing 3D printing into traditional manufacturing process are huge.
“In this project, not only did we achieve significant savings in time and money, but our knowledge and capability has rocketed. It made us analyse a problem in different ways and pushed our way of thinking.
“It has also changed the way I think as a design engineer, and I have found it highly fulfilling. This is a great example of additive and traditional manufacturing working in synergy to deliver huge savings in time and money.”
Managing director, Andrew Churchill commented: “This is another example of JJ Churchill applying emerging technologies to component manufacturing and inspection techniques.
“The adoption of 3D printing and its application to the way JJ Churchill engineers products, fundamentally increases our agility as a business to meet our customers’ new product Introduction timescales, whilst at the time reducing the cost of tooling.”