CNC machine fixtures lead to a significant reduction in setup times for CNC operators, increasing overall throughput. This is particularly useful when dealing with unconventional geometries and performing machining operations that require multiple setups or CNC programs for production.
Durable 3D printed CNC fixtures add a cost savings to your manufacturing process. With Purple Porcupine’s 3D printing services, your custom part can be designed, printed, and put to use in under a week.
Why CNC Machining Fixtures?
Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machining increases manufacturing throughput, as it does not require manual operation. Once a part has been programmed for CNC machining, the operator only has to setup the material in the proper position before starting the program. While setup might seem trivial to the skill required to design and program a complex part, this portion of the process is where the most time and cost savings can be achieved.
Once programming is completed, setting up a part for cutting is the last manual process. The operator simply monitors and removes the swarf (or chips), ensuring the cuts are performed as programmed.
That being said, there are a few points to keep in mind when machining parts:
- Without making an investment to increase the quality of the program or machine used, setup time is the only avenue for improvement in production.
- Setup is critical to consistent production yields. The CNC program will run the exact same tool paths every time; inconsistencies in part setup directly lead to inconsistencies in CNC machine parts.
- Fixtures improve the precision and accuracy of machining setups, by using cavities that directly mate with the geometry of the machined part.
- The time for cutting a part is predefined by the program and machine used for cutting, thus will not change unless an adjustment to the program or machine occurs.
- The later a production mistake occurs, the more manufacturing costs will increase (worst case being starting over from raw material).
When To Consider CNC Machining Fixtures
CNC machining fixtures are often used on parts that have unconventional geometries and/or require multiple setups and programs for the final part.
Most CNC machines have squared off clamps, making it very easy to align a single flat surface as a starting point. Without a flat surface to utilize for machining, an operator will have to manually align a part in the vice, securing it to prevent movement, while not damaging surface appearance.
CNC machining fixtures are created with cavities to explicitly match part geometry, holding the part in place securely in a matter of seconds. Time savings are achieved by switching from a “guess-and-check” approach for setting up, to a reliable and consistent approach that only requires positioning a part or material to a predefined cavity.
By using 3D printed CNC machining fixtures, operators lower setup time, increasing ROI.
Understanding Your Material Options
Given that CNC machining fixtures are in close proximity to operational drills and end mills it is best to utilize common consumer plastics like ASA and ABS. This way the parts can be replaced at a lower cost should a machining error result in contact with the fixture.
For parts made from higher strength materials, it is worth looking into engineering and high–performance plastics such as PC and Nylon 12CF. Both these plastics exhibit higher tensile strengths than ASA and ABS, making them better suited for higher machining stresses. The exact selection between these materials would be project specific, depending on the part geometry and overall units to be produced.
To learn more about your 3D printing options, reach out to our team by phone at 949.474.9222 or by email at [email protected]. If you’d like to receive a quote for your project, please use our online file upload system.
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Meet Alex Goldsberry
As a Sales Engineer for Purple Porcupine, Alex focuses on bringing value to customers through his knowledge of additive manufacturing, engineering, and 3D printing technology. Out of the office, Alex enjoys reading investment articles and analyzing stock trends. If you haven’t had a chance to meet Alex yet, stop by our office and say hi or connect with him on LinkedIn!