Printing our own end of arm tooling was a natural progression from creating our own jigs and fixtures in 3D print. As a manufacturer we have always relied on customised manufacturing aids and being an early adopter of 3D printing technology we readily reaped the gains of time and cost savings by printing tools as and when, plus exactly as we needed them.
So, when we came to trade in our Stratasys Objet350 Connex which coincided with the decision to invest in cobots, choosing a Stratasys Fortus 380mc CF capable of printing in ASA and FDM Nylon 12 CF (carbon fibre reinforced thermoplastic) was an obvious choice, more so because it would deliver us greater design flexibility especially where end-of-arm-tooling is concerned.
Nylon 12 CF contains 30% carbon fibre which gives our prints great strength and durability – perfect for the rigours of a manufacturing environment but crucially the material it is lightweight. For EOAT this is a massive bonus productivity-wise; lightweight tools mean that the robots can work faster, the payload burden is reduced and motor efficiency is increased because of less wear and tear.
Furthermore, design flexibility allows us to integrate hinges, gripper mechanisms, air channels, wire runs, mounts for sensors and other functions ergonomically. Add to this rapid iteration at a fraction of the cost and time compared to machining EOAT’s from metal, it is easy to see how we have evolved from jigs and fixtures to printing tools for robotic automation.
Our experience is such that we extend this as a service we offer existing and new customers. All designs are expertly assessed and we will advise prior to quoting, offering a redesign as needed.