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3D Printing Application Series: Jigs and Fixtures

What are 3D printed jigs and fixtures? 3D printed jigs and fixtures are custom designed 3D printed parts that can be used to secure, guide, and inspect materials during the manufacturing process.

They are typically used in machining and fabrication, so you’ll often see them in industries such as automotive and manufacturing. 3D printed jigs and fixtures can be tailored to specific needs of your project, so they have the ability to reduce waste and increase efficiency.

What is the difference between a jig and a fixture?

Jigs

A jig is a device that helps with alignment, such as a drill guide jig. They are custom made to provide support with the placement and movement of other tools. The key to a good jig is to provide consistent results reliably and accurately, making manufacturing components more efficient.

drill guide

Drill guide

Fixtures

A fixture is similar to a jig; however, its primary use is as a work holding device. For example, a fixture can hold a part in place for inspection, measurement or for a process like applying decals. It reduces the need for clamping or holding oddly shaped parts when completing a task that requires precision, accuracy, and repeatability.

ABS-CF10 Alignment Fixture

ABS-CF10 Alignment Fixture

What are they used for?

3D printed jigs and fixtures are useful for many tasks, including function prototyping, fit testing, and holding or inspection of complex shapes. The advantages of using a 3D printed jig are that you can quickly produce and customize it to the specific needs of a project. Allowing for a high level of accuracy, repeatability, which is especially helpful with precision requirements on challenging shaped parts.

Aviation manufacturer, Boom Supersonic uses 3D printing for a variety of applications in their manufacturing process. These case studies dive into the benefits of their use of 3D printed drill guides and inspection and assembly fixtures. The drill guides make alignment quick and accurate. 3D printed drill guides are able to save about one week of lead-time and 92% of cost from switching from traditional manufacturing to 3D printing. The drill guides were printed on the Stratasys Fortus 450mc, a workhorse machine that has the capabilities to now run any filament on the market with its open material license and the Stratasys F900, the largest FDM printer in the Stratasys lineup. Both excel at printing high end thermoplastics like ULTEM 9085 and ULTEM 1010 and Nylon 12CF.

3D printed drill guides for Boom Supersonic

3D printed drill guides for Boom Supersonic

Why are businesses implementing 3D printing for jigs and fixtures?

They are an economical solution to combat the challenges of traditional manufacturing. 3D printing manufacturing aids like jigs and fixtures can help save money by reducing the amount of material used in the production process. In addition, they can be produced more quickly and accurately than traditional methods, reducing material and labor costs and improving workflow. Reach out to our team for advice on implementing 3D printing technology for your jigs and fixtures or request a quote for our 3D printing services.