By 3D printing their own CMM fixtures, Swedish machine shop MF Precision can cut lead times and cost, as well as raise the measuring quality. MF Precision, based in the North of Sweden, take pride in their high level of competence, technology usage and automation. The company excels in advanced cutting and their strength is milling multifunctional parts for the manufacturing industry.
High standards and quality is of utmost importance and the staff always carries out a thorough inspection of each part before it is shipped.
At times, the inspection process can be challenging. Most jobs consist of one or a couple of milled parts. Usually, the inspection engineer sits and waits for the parts. There is no pre-made CMM fixture, these are all made once the milled part is ready. This is something that causes delays in the production flow.
”Another challenge we have is if the fixture isn’t made exactly to specifications, then the inspection will take longer and the result can vary”, says Martin Fredin, CEO, MF Precision. “We have therefore had discussions on how to speed up the inspection process and be more prepared once the inspection is to be carrried out.”
”Finally, each detail needs to be placed at the exact same position in our inspection machine, regardless of larger volumes or repeat orders.”
Machined fixtures are costly and often superfluous. There is rarely any need for the level of exactness they provide. A repeatability of 0.5-1.0 millimeters is most of the time good enough for the CMM machine to automatically add the part to the coordinate system. Producing these fixtures internally also ties up production resources that could be used elsewhere in the production line.
”These costs and resources need to be dealt with internally, as our customers expect inspection to be part of the price for the parts.”
After having seen a live demo of a Markforged Mark Two at an event, Martin Fredin immediately realized it could be used for the inhouse manufacturing of production tools, such as, fixtures, details, spare parts and end-of-arm tooling. He went from idea to investment in less than an hour.
Since installing the Markforged Mark Two, MF Precision’s engineers and operators can now CAD and print all their fixture needs in the carbon fiber material Onyx. The design process takes roughly 30 minutes and preparing the CAD file for 3D printing a few additional minutes in the software Markforged Eiger.
”Now, we only need one person for CAD, print and inspection”, says Martin Fredin. “Equally important is that the cost of an inhouse printed CMM fixture can be as little as on tenth of a traditionally manufactured fixture. And we get more consistent and thorough measuring results.”
The next step in MF Precision’s use of 3D printing is making the technology accessible and a vital part in the inspection process. The end goal is to increase the overall quality in the production flow.
”Having our own 3D printer gives us an opportunity to learn about new technology”, says Martin Fredin. “At the same time, we need to make sure our staff can see clear values using this technology. I also believe that 3D printing can be a future offering of ours. We have a lot to offer our customers.”
”Anything that can be automated and digitalized will do so with time, and our goal is to be at the forefront of this development”, ends Martin Fredin.