3D Printing Jigs, Fixtures, Gauges and Manufacturing Tools

3d printed production jig to easily swap out coasters without having to re-zero each time before engraving.

3D printed a masking spray stand to re-paint the bolt heads black without getting it on the threads.

Spindle Safety Cover in ABS


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3D Printing Jigs and Fixtures

Jigs and fixtures are often used in manufacturing for a number of different reasons, but mainly to ensure repeatability and accuracy in a manufacturing process, and to hold items in a fixed position during manufacturing. There are many ways jigs and fixtures are created, and they have been used in making items since before the industrial age.

Now that additive manufacturing has become more accessible and can now be used to produce parts in strong engineering-grade materials, creating customized jigs and fixtures has never been easier. It is also less time consuming, and they can be produced at a much lower cost. Not only can these be customized for certain parts and production methods, they can also improve workflows and worker safety.

Below are some examples of how additive manufacturing has not only sped up the process and made it more accessible, but how it has also allowed engineers to easily make refinements and adjustments to improve the traditional jig or fixture that is commercially available.

3D Printed Production CMM Fixture

Production CMM Fixture

When using Coordinate Measuring Machines (CMM’s) to accurately measure a part, a fixture is used to hold it in place, and to hold its position accurately for proper measuring. These are usually made out of metal, and can be extremely expensive, especially if it is something customized for the part it will be holding. In this case, ABS plastic is used to create a fixture to hold parts that need to be loaded and unloaded quickly. These fixtures were made very inexpensively and can be refined and tweaked affordably as the user sees fit.

3d Printed Rotating Vice Base in blue 3d Printed Rotating Vice Base in blue

Rotating Vice Base

This custom Rotating Vice Base was developed to provide a smooth rotating base for CMM inspection machines and mills. A milling vise is a versatile way to hold parts securely, while also holding them in place accurately and aligned to the mill table. The main purpose of the rotating vise base is to eliminate the process of clamping and unclamping the vise to produce certain angles. The embedded protractor scale is used to set the angle quickly.

3d Print Customized Slide Grip and Staining Box In Blue 3d Print Customized Slide Grip and Staining Box In Blue

Customized Slide Grip and Staining Box

This customized slide grip and staining box not only allows more slides to be stained at a time, but also uses a minimal amount of staining agent when compared to commercially available options. Microscope slides are sometimes stained to enhance visualization of cells or cellular components. The part can also be customized or adjusted to the users needs, adding a great way to easily make changes on the fly. This slide grip and staining box was 3D printed with N-Vent PET and flexible TPU.

Additive Manufactured Magnetic Safely Cover for Milling Machine Spindle

Magnetic Safely Cover for Milling Machine Spindle

This 3D printed quick release safety tool was designed to cover the rotating pinch point on a manual milling machine. This cover features magnet inserts which allows easy attachment to the spindle. Utilizing ABS plastic, the cover is strong enough to last several years in a shop environment.

Spindle Safety Cover in ABS

Spindle Safety Cover

Safety covers and guards are commonly used items for a shop which utilizes a lot of machinery. In order to protect the user from the rotating pinch point on this coolant mixing machine, a customized cover was designed and 3D printed. Many older machines do not feature a lot of the safety guards and protective elements that you see on newer models. Being able to fully customize and produce these safety devices not only makes the machine that much safer, but also shows how a 3D printer can be used in a shop setting, while not necessarily being used to create or prototype the product itself.

Stone Grinder and Belt Grinder Safety Cover 3D Printed Stone Grinder and Belt Grinder Safety Cover 3D Printed

Stone Grinder and Belt Grinder Safety Cover

Machinery which features high-RPM rotating parts, like grinders, can be extremely dangerous and require several forms of protection. These custom covers were designed and 3D printed to protect the user from the rotating grinding stone and belt grinder belt access points. Many of these machines, especially when older, do not feature the covers needed to properly protect the user. The ones that come with safety guards and covers may not be properly designed, and could easily be improved upon through 3D printing.

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Download our Guide "Additive Manufacturing For Jigs and Fixtures"

This guide is aimed at decision-makers and product researchers interested in acquiring fused deposition modeling (FDM) additive manufacturing equipment to product jigs and fixtures.

Reading time: 5 minutes

3d printed jigs and fixtures