Below is Gigamachinist's Steve Johnson's first blog on 3D printing for re:3D's Gigabot fabrication shop.
Additive Value for Your Subtractive Manufacturing
by Steve Johnson
You may be thinking: “Why would a machine shop need a 3d printer?”
Turns out there are a lot of uses! In my case, we needed to make new fixtures to take advantage of the capabilities of our new 4th axis and the full travel of our machine. When making fixtures, cost is always a main concern, and making a bad fixture can be expensive in terms of both material and man hours.
By using re:3D’s Gigabot 3D printer, we were able to design our fixture in Solidworks, export the model, and print a full size model of the fixture overnight on Gigabot (no time wasted).
This morning, we tapped the holes for our cam clamps, put the printed fixture into the machine, and checked for clearance and travel issues. In the process we found two issues that we corrected in the solid model, and we are now printing the revised test fixture.
Without the benefit of Gigabot, we may have wasted a 4in diameter by 20in long piece of material, as well as hours of labor. Right now, our only cost has been a few dollars worth of plastic.
This experience has been a great opportunity for me to learn Solidworks and I’m looking forward to using Gigabot again to cut costs, create efficiencies, and to have fun in the shop!