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Benefits of 3D Printing for Jigs and Fixtures

Benefits of 3D Printing for Jigs and Fixtures

Benefits of 3D Printing for Jigs and Fixtures?

Resin Printed Fixtures

3D printing has revolutionized the way we manufacture parts and components for a wide range of industries, and one of the key areas where it has made a significant impact is in the production of jigs and fixtures.

Jigs and fixtures are specialized tools that are used to hold, support, and position workpieces during manufacturing processes. They are essential for ensuring the accuracy and repeatability of complex manufacturing operations, and are widely used in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and medical device manufacturing.

Subtractive Manufacturing Methods

Traditionally, jigs and fixtures were made using subtractive manufacturing techniques such as milling or lathing, which involve removing material from a block of metal or plastic to create the desired shape. This can be a time-consuming and expensive process, particularly for complex or customized jigs and fixtures.

Additive Manufacturing

3D printing, on the other hand, allows manufacturers to quickly and easily produce jigs and fixtures using an additive manufacturing process. This involves building up layers of material to create the desired shape, rather than removing material. This can be done using a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, and even ceramics.

Key Benefits

One of the key benefits of using 3D printing for jigs and fixtures is the ability to rapidly prototype and iterate designs. This allows manufacturers to quickly test different designs and make modifications as needed, without the need for expensive and time-consuming prototyping processes.

In addition, 3D printing enables the production of customized jigs and fixtures for specific applications, without the need for expensive tooling or specialized equipment. This can be particularly useful for companies with low volume or highly specialized production requirements.


Overall, the use of 3D printing for jigs and fixtures has the potential to significantly reduce manufacturing costs and lead times, while also increasing design flexibility and customization. As 3D printing technology continues to advance, we can expect to see an even greater adoption of this technology in the production of jigs and fixtures in the future.

3D Printing Service Advantages

3D Printing Service Advantages

A 3D printing service is an affordable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes.


SLA Part Production

A 3D printing service is an affordable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes that offers numerous benefits, including faster turnaround times, reduced waste, and increased design flexibility.

3D printing technology, also known as additive manufacturing, creates objects by building up successive layers of material, such as plastic, metal, or ceramics, until the desired shape is achieved. This process is faster and more efficient than traditional manufacturing methods. CNC machining, Casting and molding, often require multiple steps and significant amounts of waste.

Advantages and Benefits

One of the key advantages of using a 3D printing service is the cost, speed and quality with which prototypes can be produced. With 3D printing, it’s often possible to produce a functional prototype in a day. Compare this to the weeks or even months it can take with traditional manufacturing methods. This can be especially beneficial for companies looking to bring new products to market quickly. Companies can test and refine prototypes with faster turn around. This in turn allows for more iterations of a design leading to a better end result.

Another key benefit of 3D printing is the overall reduction in waste material created. Traditional manufacturing processes, like CNC machining, often produce large amounts of scrap material that must be disposed of. This can be both environmentally harmful and expensive. In contrast, 3D printing generates minimal waste and can even be used to create products made from recycled or biodegradable materials.

3D printing offers increased design flexibility. With traditional manufacturing methods, there are often limitations on the shapes and sizes that can be produced. In contrast, 3D printing allows for the creation of complex, highly detailed objects with intricate geometries and internal structures. This increased design flexibility allows companies to produce products that would otherwise be impossible with traditional manufacturing methods.

Finally, 3D printing is a game-changer for companies looking to produce customized products at scale. The technology allows for the creation of unique and personalized items, without sacrificing the efficiency of mass production. This not only streamlines production processes, but also provides customers with products that are tailored to their specific needs and preferences. As a result, 3D printing offers a unique opportunity for companies to create high-quality, one-of-a-kind products that meet the demands of a rapidly evolving market.


In conclusion, a 3D printing service is an affordable alternative to traditional manufacturing processes that offers numerous benefits, including faster turnaround times, reduced waste, and increased design flexibility. Whether you are looking to produce a functional prototype or manufacture end-use products, 3D printing can provide a cost-effective, efficient, and environmentally friendly solution.

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

How big do you want to print?

Last week in our 3D printing basics series we discussed the history of 3D printing. Today, we are going to explore the wide variety of printer build volumes and tolerances that allow you to create prints ranging from very tiny to quite massive.

While all printers work by building a part layer by layer, the machines can vary significantly in terms of quality and functionality. When searching for a 3D printer for your home or office, you can really distinguish one printer from another based upon the printer build volumes and tolerances.

Printer Build Volumes

MakerBot printers

Different build volume = different sizes of prints

The build volume, quite simply, determines how big your machine allows you to print. For years, analysts believed that limited build volumes were the biggest obstacle standing in the way of widespread adoption of 3D printing technology. Today, we are starting to see the design of 3D printers re-imagined in ways that allow them to build full-scale structures, effectively eliminating this critique.

Starting at the true desktop level, the printer build volumes for a 3D printer can be quite limited. Many of the entry level printers, especially those around or below the $1,000 mark, have rather small build volumes, mostly less than four inches by four inches by four inches. This means that you can only print something that would fit inside of a four inch cube. While this is enough space to play around with the technology and build little trinkets, if you want to make actual, usable parts, you will find a four-inch limitation to be rather cumbersome.

Moving into the next level of printers, the high-end home printers and low-end industrial level printers typically vary from build spaces that are approximately eight inches cubed to about one foot cubed. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule and some printers have build volumes that are much larger.

When you get up into the super industrial machines, you will begin to see printers that are essentially mini factories.  In China, for example, there is a company called WinSun Decoration Design Engineering that has designed a printer so massive, it is capable of printing a mid-sized apartment complex and a 12,000 square foot mansion.

Another large build printer was produced by vehicle manufacturer Local Motors. Known as a microfactory, these printers are creating the world’s first 3D printed car. The first vehicle, called the Strati which is Italian for layers, is expected to hit the market sometime in 2015. Unlike most cars, which typically contain about 20,000 parts, the Strati is made of only 50 parts. This is because the majority of the car’s frame and exterior is printed as one part.

3d-printed building

3d-printed building

As the quest for bigger and bigger build spaces continues, researchers are beginning to literally think outside of the box. While 3D printers currently include an extruder as one small component of a larger overall machine, a group of researchers at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia are rethinking the entire design. Essentially, the researchers envision a robotic printer that is actually one giant extruder. With this design, there is no limitation as to the print size because, instead of building the print inside the printer, the robot circles the intended build space, extruding material as it goes. With this method, it is possible that we could even build whole skyscrapers in place.

Tolerance Levels

zoom in on printed layers

Tolerances determine the visibility of layers

As you might guess, as a general rule, the quality and consistency of the print tends to improve as the price of the printer increases.

Of course, the requirements for precision vary substantially based upon what you intend to do with the print. While some low and mid-level printers offer very nice prints, they can suffer from stringiness or a bit of distortion. Furthermore, the printers themselves can be more finicky.

If you are looking for some help figuring out which printer provides you with the combination of build volume and tolerance levels to suit your needs, contact us at Spectra3D Technologies for more information about our highly curated line of printers.



3D Printing Basics: Printer Build Volumes and Tolerances

3D Printing Basics: The History of 3D Printing

The History of 3D Printing

Do you think of 3D printing as a brand new, cutting edge technology? Well, you are half right. While it is true that 3D printing is cutting edge and has only entered the mainstream in recent years, the history of 3D printing actually dates back more than three decades.

In fact, the first recorded design for rapid prototyping (RP), the technology that 3D printing is built upon, was developed by a Japanese lawyer, Dr. Hideo Kodama, in 1980.

Rapid prototyping is simply any technique that uses computer aided design (CAD) programs to quickly develop a 3D model. The term rapid prototyping is often used interchangeably with additive manufacturing. Unlike traditional prototyping techniques that could take many weeks to complete, rapid prototyping technologies allow businesses to receive their prototype within hours of creating the design.

The Breakthrough and the Rise of 3D Systems

first commercially available 3D printer

The original SL-1 printer in the National Inventors Hall of Fame (image from

The first big breakthrough in 3D printing took place in 1983 when Charles “Chuck” Hull invented the first stereolithography apparatus. Hull would go on to found 3D Systems, one of the highest grossing 3D printing companies in operation and a company that we are proud to be a re-seller for. Hull came up with the idea for his machine while he was working on lamps for UV-curable resins and realized that the process could be used to create bonds in the resin that would build objects layer by layer.

Remarkably, the first inkjet printer had just been invented in 1976. There was only a period of eight years separating the invention of the first machine capable of printing in 2D and the first machine that could print real, tangible objects in 3D.

In the early days, Hull and 3D Systems found a niche with the automobile market. During this period, American automobile manufacturers were actively trying to create nicer, more technologically advanced vehicles. The problem that they were encountering was that traditional manufacturing methods weren’t able to give them the quick turn around on designs that the automobile companies wanted. 3D Systems offered the manufacturers a viable solution to their problem. 3D Systems also produced prototypes of metal parts and short-run manufacturing for metal parts.

After just four years in development, the first commercial 3D printer, known as the SLA-1, was completed in 1987 and, after undergoing extensive testing, was ready for market in 1988.

The Innovations Continue

Meanwhile, a number of other inventors were working on similar technologies. Carl Deckard, for example, filed a patent in 1987 for a process called Selective Laser Sintering, which is similar in process to stereolithography.

In 1989, Scott Crump filed for a patent for Fused Deposition Modeling technology, which works by extruding plastic layer by layer. Crump went on to co-found Stratasys (a company that we are also a re-seller for), and received the patent for FDM in 1992. Although Stratasys still holds the patent for FDM, this is one of the most common forms of 3D printing and many other companies have adopted the techniques of FDM under a variety of different names, such as fused filament fabrication (FFF) and plastic jet printing (PJP).

The term 3D printing was first used toward the beginning of the 1990s when MIT trademarked a procedure that it called 3-D Printing, abbreviated as 3DP. Since then, MIT has granted several organizations the permission to use this process.

For the next several years, inventors continued to refine the technology, typically with an emphasis on industrial applications. As the technology improved, 3D printers became more and more refined. Today, printers can produce objects faster, cheaper, and better than ever before. Even with the improved technology, however, we are in a stage of rapid advancement, with better models just on the horizon.

Now that we can create accurate, usable parts from a printer that will comfortably sit on our desktops at a reasonable price point, we are truly approaching a time when it is conceivable that 3D printers could soon be a common household appliance.


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Spurring Innovation: Autodesk Invests in the Future of 3D Printing

Spurring Innovation: Autodesk Invests in the Future of 3D Printing

Autodesk hopes to bolster the future of 3D printing

The Announcement

Autodesk's 3D printer

Autodesk Spark

In May of this year, Autodesk announced that they were ready to jump into the 3D printing game. In a blog post by Carl Bass, Autodesk President and CEO, Bass explained how his frustration with the state of the 3D printing industry had led him to seek out a better option. The result of this search was twofold: the development of an entirely new open source software platform, Autodesk Spark, and a 3D printer, the Ember, that would be designed to work with the Spark platform. Through these innovations, Autodesk hopes to help shape the future of 3D printing in a more user-friendly direction.

Development for Spark

In an update from Autodesk CTO Jeff Kowalski at the Inside 3D Printing Conference this week, Kowalski spilled a few more details about the software. One of the things that really separates Spark from the competition is its “autocomplete” feature, which allows the software to anticipate the design and complete the shape for the user. The Spark software program will also be able to work with multiple materials and can be used on any available hardware platform. Like the software, Ember, the 3D printer, will be designed through a heavily collaborative process. So far, it is known that the printer will have a resolution of 10 microns and will primarily use photo-cured resin for its material, although it will also print other materials. It is estimated that the printer will go on sale for somewhere around $5,000.

Raising the bar

This week, Autodesk took their role in the 3D marketplace a step further by announcing the creation of the Spark Investment Fund. Over the course of the next three years, Autodesk will be investing as much as $100 million into 3D printing companies. As the first of its kind, this investment fund is a great opportunity for spurring innovation in the industry by financing startups, researchers, and entrepreneurs. The primary goal of the Spark fund is to push the boundaries of 3D technology and move the industry into the next phase.


With increased innovation and investment in the 3D marketplace, it is a great time to embrace this amazing technology. If you would like to learn more about 3D printing and how it can be put to use in your industry, contact us at Spectra 3D Technologies.

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