Digi, the wireless networking device manufacturer, originally justified the purchase of an additive manufacturing (AM) machine based on savings from rapid prototyping. Within a year of purchasing a FDM machine, however, Digi expanded its use into applications such as building fixtures with integrated masks for its conformal coating process. In the past, the company purchased machined aluminum fixtures and manually applied tape to mask uncoated components. The use of AM provided dramatic labor savings in this application.
The Stratasys white paper entitled “Production Floor Trends: Justifying Additive Manufacturing through Jigs & Fixtures” explains how jigs and fixtures produced with AM can save enough money to justify a 3D printing system purchase. Following is the second excerpt from the paper, along with a link to the full paper.
With hybrid carrier and masking fixtures produced through AM, Digi reduced masking labor by 55 seconds per PCB for its outdoor product, which will yield a $123,750 labor savings. This single fixture has an annual savings greater than that for all engineering-related AM applications combined. Matthew Larsen, lead mechanical engineer, acknowledged that this financial gain would be possible with a machined alternative, but noted that Digi had not considered it. With small-batch production, saving a minute or more per board appeared to be a small benefit that was countered by the time and effort to have the hybrid masks machined by a supplier. With an ever-present list of higher priority projects, permanent masks for conformal coating were considered “nice to do when we have the time.” But that time never came, at least until they had in-house AM capabilities.
View or download the complete " Production Floor Trends: Justifying Additive Manufacturing through Jigs & Fixtures " white paper.
View the first excerpt previously posted the week of 11/19.