90% Lead Time Savings with a 3D Printed Manifold Test Fixture

nVent is a leader in the design and manufacture of electrical enclosures, fastening systems and heat trace solutions (freeze-protection cables and controls for pipes and equipment).

Challenge

Engineers were tasked with leak testing a large water distribution manifold in a new test chamber. The chamber is long and narrow and the manifold needed to be inserted through a narrow opening without damaging the manifold. This required the creation of a support, which would be strapped to the manifold to guide and center it within the chamber, see the image below:

3D Printed Support Tool

3D Printed Support Tool

The support needed to be durable enough to accommodate up to 40 load/unload cycles per day. It also had to exhibit low sliding friction to minimize the force needed to insert and remove the manifold. One solution was to fabricate a support system from machined metal. However, this posed several drawbacks:

  • Longer lead time for fabrication
  • Material waste associated with machining
  • Manufacturability constraints of the support’s geometry
  • Excessive metal-on-metal sliding friction between the support tool and the chamber

Solution

Instead of machining a multipart metal support structure, nVent engineers 3D printed a single-piece support on a Stratasys F370™ printer using Diran™ 410MF07 material. Diran 410MF07 is a tough thermoplastic tooling material with a lubricious, slippery surface finish.

This solution offered the following benefits:

  • Significantly reduced lead time
  • Lower material costs
  • More design freedom to produce a conformal single-piece tool
  • Lower tool-to-chamber surface friction

Impact

Using FDM® additive manufacturing, nVent was able to produce an effective support tool in just under 22 hours. In contrast, nVent’s internal machine shop estimated a two to three week lead time for machined components at a cost of $1000 for material and labor. This resulted in a 56% material cost savings and a lead time reduction of approximately 90%.

FEATURED TECHNOLOGY:

Stratasys F123 3D Printer

The all-in-one power of the Stratasys F123 series provides expanded capabilities and unprecedented accessibility.

The three printers in the series include, the Stratasys F170™, F270™ and Stratasys F370™, and support a broad range of capabilities and budgets for every stage of prototyping.

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