Most people associate additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing with concept models and prototypes that are used to improve product design and speed product development. Makers of AM equipment have also shown dramatic reductions in time and cost when using AM to make manufacturing tools like jigs and fixtures. These reductions in cost and time can be as high as 70, 80, and even more than 90 percent.
Dramatic as they are, these savings become inconsequential when compared with the increase in efficiency on the production floor that results from adding more manufacturing tools. And the magical thing about having an additive manufacturing system in-house to make jigs and fixtures, is that companies can add more of these tools without risk and at minimal cost. The result is a proliferation of tools that streamline manufacturing and save serious money. Enough that the savings can easily justify the cost of an additive machine.
The Stratasys white paper "Production Floor Trends: Justifying Additive Manufacturing through Jigs & Fixtures” explains how jigs and fixtures produced with AM can provide savings large enough on their own to easily justify the purchase of a 3D printing system. Here is the first excerpt from this paper along with a link to the full paper
Replacing conventionally manufactured jigs and fixtures with additively manufactured ones will reduce the fabrication expense — often by 50 to 90 percent — while reducing labor and speeding delivery. But that financial advantage is tiny when compared to the profit gains that result from production-floor reductions in labor and time to market. According to three owners of Stratasys Fortus machines, one-year profit gains ranged from $60,000 to $230,000 from just a few fixture-related applications.
View or download the complete " Production Floor Trends: Justifying Additive Manufacturing through Jigs & Fixtures " white paper.