Boost Productivity by Replacing Metal Tools with Custom 3D-Printed Tools > ENGINEERING.com

The competitive nature of the electronics industry continually
leads companies to look for new ways to accelerate product launches while
maintaining or lowering its production costs.

Recently, office equipment manufacturer Ricoh Japan found an
opportunity to do just that with their jigs, fixtures and tooling.

“Because we are producing an enormous number of parts, it
takes a lot of time and effort to identify the right jigs and fixtures for each
one. This manual process has become even lengthier as the number of components
grows, requiring that an operator examine the shape, orientation and angle of
each part before taking out a tool and placing it back in its original fixture,”
said Taizo Sakaki, senior manager of business development at Ricoh Group.

“The operators were occasionally annoyed with the many
different tools, and we were looking for a way to accelerate tooling to match
our manufacturing schedule. Now with Stratasys 3D printing, we are able to
customize the tools according to the part and produce them on demand, which is
helping us restructure and modernize our production process,” Sakaki added.

Replacing traditional metal tooling with customized,
lightweight 3D-printed jigs and fixtures for its Production Technology Center
assembly line is improving the company’s manufacturing efficiency while
minimizing manual tooling errors. The assembly line, located in the northeast
branch of Ricoh Industries in Miyagi prefecture, Japan, is dedicated to
manufacturing large-format printers. 

Ricoh has a video about the upgrades. Check it out:

By producing the tools in durable ABS thermoplastic on its
Stratasys Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer, Ricoh is able to customize each
tool precisely according to the part geometry while reducing the tool’s weight.
This has enabled Ricoh to accelerate their existing manufacturing process, in
which an operator typically handles more than 200 parts each day.

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