3D Printed Soft Jaws for Prototype Manufacturing
By night, Rob makes RC car parts which he's sold online for the past eight years. Recently, more and more makers and products designers have been approaching Rob for prototyping services. He decided to start his own business by acquiring some machinery and creating a Facebook page for Superstition Machine Works.
Superstition's First Machine - A Self Made CNC
The first machine in Superstition’s shop was a self-made CNC. Rob converted a Grizzly G0704 Drill/Mill into a CNC. As Rob describes it,
“Basically threw away everything but the cast iron and built it from the ground up. Motion control uses stepper motors and double nut ball screws of my own design.
The router hanging off to the side is a recent addition and offers an auxiliary spindle with up to 27,000 rpm. It has been used to cut .020" wide slots .030" deep in 6061 aluminum.
Currently on the table is my home made quick change fixturing system.
When I started on the conversion I had never used anything fancier than a drill press and am completely self taught in CAD, CAM, machining as well as CNC machine design and use in general.”
Superstition's Second Machine - A MarkForged 3D Printer
He bought a Mark One specifically to create the fixtures for manufacturing high-end RC car parts. According to Rob,
“Right now, my CNC doesn’t have a tool changer. I built it from a manual CNC. It’s pretty high maintenance. So I print things to save hours of time machining.
I’m drawing the soft jaws in the computer anyway. Then loading it to Eiger takes a lot less time than setting up the toolpaths. And since my tools are manual, I'd have to spend hours setting that up.”
Rob decided to buy the Mark One after seeing it online a few times, “I’d never seen a 3D printer before I bought this one. I saw an ad on a machining forum, looked at it and moved on. Then eight months later I saw it again in Modern Machine shop, read the article and decided that it might be for real.”
3D Printed Honeycomb Panels and Rod Ends
Rob started by making other parts, including a carbon fiber reinforced keychain, some fiberglass honeycomb panels and an impressive set of rod ends you can see on the Superstition Facebook Page. The soft jaws are the first fixture Rob printed.
The jaws are designed to complete the second OP on a part, drilling two holes at goofy angles.
The soft jaw bolts onto the vise, replacing an old metal fixturing system. The pictures soft jaws recently completed a production run of 32 parts for a prototype light housing component. The jaw was created to drill the holes for the LED's wires to exit out of the housing.
..."it also worked perfectly"
The jaws worked well. According to Rob, “Not only does it look good but it also worked perfectly. All 32 parts were cycled with no issue with the last one fitting as well as the first.”
More Resources, STL Download and MFP Download
- If you have a need for custom RC parts or prototyping services, reach out to Superstition Machine Shop on Facebook.
- Read the Modern Machine Shop Article, One-Off's Without Trade-Offs
- If you need a 3D printer to make your own soft jaws, please call or email the MarkForged sales team.
- Download the soft jaw STL file here
- Download the soft jaw MFP file here