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.

New and improved features save time and material. Incredible ease of use with both the hardware and the software means you don’t need special 3D printing expertise.

Super quiet and office friendly. Reliable, consistent printing ensures less waste. Designed for the way you work, it’s a smart business move.

Learn More

 

Material Cost Savings: 56%

Lead Time Savings: ~90%

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