After production, parts are checked against tolerances to ensure their geometries meet specifications. This requires customized hardware in the form of CMM fixtures and go/no-go gauges. These fixtures must be rigid, precise, and conformal; as a result they are typically machined or constructed from modular kits. Both options have their pain points: machining the complex surfaces of an inspection fixture is costly and slow, while modular inspection kits are less precise and take time to set up and take down.
Additive manufacturing offers a way to streamline the creation of inspection fixtures and keep valuable manufacturing resources focused on producing revenue-generating parts. 3D printed inspection fixtures are precise, conformal, and can be made with minimal skilled labor. Markforged composite 3D printing provides sufficient strength and durability, resulting in long-lasting, reliable fixtures that do not require CNC bandwidth.
3D Printing Inspection Fixtures
Inspection fixtures fall into two main categories—CMM fixtures and go/no-go gauges. Each fulfills a critical part of the manufacturing process: ensuring that fabricated parts hit the tolerances of the designs they were fabricated from. Conventionally, these fixtures are either constructed with modular kits or custom CNC machined. Modular fixturing is cheap, but difficult to assemble and not quickly swappable. CNC fixturing works well once it’s fabricated, but the complex geometry of many inspected end parts (especially CNC machined or cast-and-machined) adds significant cost to the fixture manufacturing process.
3D Printed inspection fixtures are precise and conformal. Whether it’s a CMM fixture or a go/no-go gauge, the geometric complexity that 3D printing naturally affords allows you to quickly design and optimize fixtures for your part. Markforged’s continuous fiber reinforcement makes these fixtures long lasting and strong enough to fixture heavy parts for inspection. Printed fixtures are easy to set up, take down, and store, meaning that you can have custom fixtures readily available for all parts that you need to inspect.
JJ Churchill: CMM Inspection Fixture
3D Printing CMM Fixtures and Check Gauges for Faster, More Cost-Effective Inspection
Inspection Fixtures — Traditional Machining vs Additive Manufacturing
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