Lean Machine is a metal fabrication job shop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, specializing in custom machining with a 5-axis CNC mill. A job for a customer required Kurt vises to hold a component while the mill cut the part. To avoid collision between the mill head and the vise, the stock would have to be clamped 12-14 inches from the cutting area. This was not an acceptable option, as a cantilevered part takes longer to machine and results in a less accurate cut. The team considered building their own metal custom vise, however they could not justify the $6,000 price tag.
The addition of a Markforged Mark Two led Lean Machine R&D Engineer Josh Grasby to use 3D printed components to build a cost-effective, custom vise/soft jaw combination. Comprised of over two dozen 3D printed continuous carbon fiber reinforced components combined with off-the-shelf parts, Lean Machine’s custom printed vise can clamp 1.5 inches from the end of the extrusion, as opposed to 12-14 inches. The company has since taken on more complex jobs, all while applying a design for additive manufacturing approach to solving other problems they come across.