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3D Printing Ancillary Tooling for Composite Fabrication

Download the white paper to learn how 3D printing technology offers significant advantages for  composite fabrication and ancillary tools used in secondary operations such as trimming, drilling, assembly, bonding and inspection.

FDM® (Fused Deposition Modeling) 3D printing technology has been proven to be a valuable and disruptive  solution for composite fabrication tooling. In addition to layup mold tools, FDM technology offers significant advantages for  ancillary tools used in secondary operations such as trimming, drilling, assembly, bonding and inspection. The benefits include reduced lead time and cost, design simplification, and  ease of fabrication and use. Concurrently, FDM ancillary tools  enable increased functionality and geometric complexity.

Carbon fiber part

This carbon fiber part was made using a 3D printed lay-up tool.

Nearly all conventional composite parts require some sort of secondary processing such as trimming,  drilling, bonding, surface preparation, and/or subsequent assembly. Depending on the application  requirements, these operations can be done with  hand tools or CNC machining. Regardless of the method, they require a variety of tools, which are  used to efficiently and effectively process the part.  These tools tend to be highly customized and  tailored to a specific composite part. The materials  and methods of manufacturing for ancillary tools  will depend on the application and performance  requirements. Any reduction in the manufacturing  cost and/or lead time of these tools has the potential  to dramatically disrupt the composites industry.

This  white paper will discuss the methods of designing, printing, and implementing (as well as performance  characterization for) ancillary tooling for composite part fabrication.

Topics include:

  • Design considerations
  • Material selection
  • Tool styles and build
  • Adding Ergonomic Features & Text
  • Application Examples
    • Profile trimming jig
    • CNC Machining Fixture
    • Vacuum holding fixture used for CNC machining
    • Ergonomic Tool Cradle

Learn how 3D printing provides a reduced cost, lead time, and increased customization enabling optimization during the design and manufacture of composite parts and has the potential to truly disrupt industries invested in composite fabrication.

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