nTopology, New York City, USA, has released the newest feature of its FDM™ Fixture Generator, a collaboration between the company and Stratasys, headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The new Masking Fixture Module is said to be able to automate 90% of the design work required for additively manufactured jigs and fixtures.
Engineers can use this tool to keep parts safe and clean throughout the manufacturing process without the hassle of designing one-off jigs and fixtures. Early customer feedback reported several applications in which this had proven useful: protecting critical faces, gaskets, holes or mating surfaces with tight tolerances during a painting, coating, or bead blasting post-processing, for example.
Jigs and fixtures make up around 10% of all end-use parts being additively manufactured today, yet less than 1% of fixtures used in factories around the world are produced via AM. nTopology believes that this isn’t because manufacturers couldn’t benefit from them, but, rather, that the industry needs automated Design for AM tools that can simplify the design of fixtures, making them more accessible to the factory floor.
Additively manufactured masking fixtures remove the need for manual masking techniques regardless of model complexity; the Masking Fixture Module automates the design of these fixtures and saves CAD work.
Users in the aerospace and defence industries are said to see a potential in reducing scrap rate and increase throughput; a machine shop creating medical devices and aerospace is said to plan on using this to protect faces during deburring and abrasive processes.
The Masking Fixture Module is the second output of the ongoing collaboration with Stratasys; a few months back, the Assembly Fixture Module, a workflow that automates the design of kitting trays, storage cases, and other simple fixtures to support manufacturing operations, was released.