3D Printing CMM Fixtures with Markforged and JJ Churchill

CMM fixture 3D printing

JJ Churchill Ltd use Markforged 3D printers to fabricate CMM fixtures in-house, which they use to inspect the jet engine turbine blades they manufacture for aircraft.

The right CMM fixture improves the throughput and accuracy of the inspection process by making the fixturing setup process quicker and easier. The bottom line is a fit for purpose CMM fixture saves significant inspection time.

3D printing allows JJC to fabricate strong, geometrically complex fixtures at an affordable price. The CMM fixtures they manufacture using Onyx are as strong as 6061 aluminium. “Once we realized the directional strength properties available with the Markforged products, we haven’t used anything else”, says Manufacturing Engineer Karan Singh.

Traditional manufacturing of CMM fixtures requires CNC machining and the time to manufacture one fixture is around 10 days. With 3D printing, JJC has reduced part fabrication time by 70% with parts available within a much more efficient three days. They have also reduced costs considerably, with the cost per part down to $330 versus $1,590. That’s an 80% cost saving, and crucially, there’s been absolutely no compromise in fixture quality.

CMM fixture 3D printing

Printed parts have exceeded all expectations in terms of quality, accuracy, durability and repeatability. The team have complete confidence in the fixtures they fabricate with Markforged 3D printers.

Their requirements of strength and stiffness are met at an affordable price, and the team are able to test new designs quickly. It’s simply a case of drawing new iterations in CAD, slicing them, and sending them to print. With the ability to change tiny details and see how they work in the real-world in just a few days, it’s now easier than ever for the team to develop and create the most accurate CMM fixtures they’ve ever used.

The clincher for JJC is the ability to design and text new fixtures within the same week, without being held back by an external supply or manufacturing chain. They also have complete control over material waste, so there’s no smokescreen regarding their environment responsibility. The team now have no bottlenecks and a reliable way to make their own parts. This is one of the key benefits to 3D printing over traditional manufacturing.

3D Printer: Mark Two (Enterprise).

Material used: OnyxFibreglass. The Markforged Mark Two can also 3D print Carbon Fibre and Kevlar.

This information was first published on the Markforged website.