The United Equipment Accessories engineering department recently added a 3D printer to our toolbox. The initial purpose of this printer was to allow our engineers a way to rapidly produce prototype parts and assemblies to speed design. As we became more familiar with capabilities and features of the 3D printer, another opportunity emerged.
Specialty Tooling and Machines
We have many specialized processes unique to our product lines. It is not uncommon to build a tool, fixture, or a complete machine to accomplish a task with effectiveness. The latest example of this is the process of bending a stranded wire 90 degrees and then trimming the strands straight and even so they will attach to the brass conductor ring correctly. In the past we have built machines with all steel components to do this. They were custom-made and very expensive. The units would only bend and cut up to 12 GA wire and we were in need of one to handle 10 GA. This meant a total redesign and the initial layouts looked like expensive machining.
Enter the 3D Printed Design
A concept was reviewed, approved and designed that would use a main body and slide that could be 3D printed while the remainder of the machine would be designed to use standard parts that are readily available. This would allow the possibility of multiple iterations with very little cost. As it turned out, the second run produced the current machine production.
In addition to this new unit, the 3D printer has produced replacement parts for our bar feeder that produces our brass rings.
We look forward to the continued opportunities this 3D printer will bring and the next application that can move us forward at United Equipment Accessories to better meet our customers’ needs.
SR Plant Engineer