Improving Plant Efficiency with 3D Printed Production Aids

Additive manufacturing (or popularly known as 3D printing) has proven itself to rapidly manufacture strong and functional parts. The technology is changing the way products are being manufactured but alternatively it is also improving the efficiency of traditional manufacturing processes.

To put this in
perspective, all manufacturing factories require the help of production aids to
manufacture and assemble the products. A production aid is any device type of
tool, jig, fixture, or a device used to enhance, optimize, and assist or
speedup the manufacturing or assembly process.

More often than not, production aids are customized to suit the product being manufactured but manufacturing such customized tools in limited quantities is always costly.

Considering the importance of production aids and its limited quantities, 3D printing can be a perfect fit in this scenario. Factories can leverage the capabilities of 3D printing to produce them at reduced costs. 3D printing can hand a powerful tool to organizations to improve its overall plant efficiency.

We’ll first look at the benefits of using 3D printing in creating production aids.


With 3D printing,
production aids can be manufactured rapidly. This starts a chain reaction to also
speed up the pace of production and assembly, thus cutting down the
time-to-market to take your product from factory to customer.

Plant Efficiency
With faster production
and assembly leading to faster output and delivery, plant efficiency can be
considerably improved.

Cost of Production
By improving part
repeatability and accuracy, rejections can be reduced, leading to reduced cost
of production. When manufacturing jigs and fixtures, 3D printing can eliminate
the time needed for iterations before finalizing on the desired jig or fixture.

By using the design freedom capability of 3D printing, innovative and complex fixtures can be designed and printed to improve the production and assembly performance with fewer constraints.

Better Production
Compared to traditionally manufactured production aids, 3D printed production aids can be more efficient. It can be made from lighter materials but still offer comparable strength and durability. Alternatively, the tools can be topology optimized to reduce weight and material usage.

3D printing offers the
capability to consolidate multiple jigs and fixtures into a single production aid
thus operators are able to perform multiple operations at the same work station
using a same fixture, saving costs, storage, and handling.