How additive manufacturing can revolutionize jigs and fixtures for aerospace and defense
Written by Guénaël Morvan | Senior Application Engineer at nTop
Published on September 1, 2023
Key Software Capabilities
- Design automation
Learn how nTop revolutionizes the design of jigs and fixtures for additive manufacturing within the aerospace and defense industry. Leverage this technology to drive precision, efficiency, and innovation in your manufacturing or assembly processes.
Jigs and fixtures are integral to assembly and manufacturing in the aerospace and defense industry. Complex components like winglets require solutions that accommodate intricate curvature, angles, and surfaces. Engineers commonly 3D print jigs and fixtures, but without tools to simplify the design process, it’s hard to get the full benefit of additive manufacturing on the factory floor.
Traditional tooling manufacturing methods using CAD software often fall short, taking significant time to design, fabricate, and iterate. With nTop, engineers can remove bottlenecks in design and manufacturing with both time and material savings. In this article, see how you can reimagine the design and fabrication of custom jigs, fixtures, and tools for the aerospace and defense industry, using AM to overcome the constraints of traditional manufacturing and design.
The aerospace and defense AM advantage
Aerospace and defense manufacturing tolerances are often incredibly tight. The margin for error is slim, and any deviation can have far-reaching consequences. This is where jigs and fixtures come in. From welding and drilling to assembly and inspection, jigs and fixtures ensure that each step is executed with utmost accuracy.
Yet traditional methods for manufacturing these tools are often costly and time consuming. Because of CAD’s limited capabilities for latticing, offsetting, and automation, engineers end up spending too much time troubleshooting CAD and not enough time designing.
This is where additive manufacturing can help. Engineers can fabricate intricate, customized jigs and fixtures tailored to the specific needs of any aerospace and defense project.
Maximize the benefits of AM with nTop
To make the most of AM’s benefits, engineers can’t rely on traditional CAD software alone. In an industry where every micron matters, nTop’s innovative software streamlines the manufacturing and design of jigs and fixtures. With nTop, engineers can generate these parts using reusable design workflows that are fast, robust, and proven in manufacturing environments.
Throughput can also be an issue, as traditional manufacturing methods may struggle to keep pace with the demands of modern production. nTop’s design automation capabilities enable you to scale your digital transformation initiatives, lessen the need for specialized personnel, and achieve production targets without compromising on quality.
Navigating complexity with nTop
Traditionally, fabricating a drill guide for the complex curvature of a winglet would be a challenge using CAD software. nTop simplifies the process to help engineers bring even the most complex designs to life.
nTop’s capabilities allow engineers to quickly design and fabricate custom drill guides tailored to the unique contours of their components. Custom drill guides ensure that every hole, slot, or connection point matches the intended design. This level of customization reduces the chances of misalignment and mitigates potential errors during assembly. Furthermore, as industries push towards more complex and intricate designs, the ability to create precise guides becomes increasingly critical.
With traditional CAD, it can be time-consuming to design internal cooling or chip evacuation channels that conform to the shape of a drill guide — but nTop revolutionizes this process with an intuitive approach. In nTop, engineers can speed up, control, and fine-tune the design of conformal cooling or debris channels using a field-driven approach. This integration of form and function not only enhances the tool's performance, but also drastically reduces design time. That means engineers can focus more on refining the tool's functionality and less on wrestling with CAD issues.
Typically, making major design modifications and adjustments can lead to cumbersome processes. Engineers may find themselves going back to the drawing board, sometimes having to initiate an entirely new workflow to accommodate even minor changes. This not only increases the lead times for product development but also introduces a level of complexity that could potentially compromise the accuracy and quality of the final product.
nTop removes these limitations. Whether it's a minute adjustment or a substantial modification, this agility allows engineers to implement changes on the fly without needing to dismantle and reconstruct the entire design workflow. This level of flexibility and adaptability significantly reduces lead times, enhances accuracy, and preserves the integrity of the design process.
What does the future of aerospace and defense manufacturing look like?
Tools like nTop are revolutionizing the way engineers approach design and production. Through the integration of advanced technologies, engineers can automate complex design processes and optimize workflows.
nTop empowers engineers to overcome traditional limitations, enabling the design and printing of intricate, multifaceted shapes that were once considered too difficult or time-consuming to create. This newfound design freedom not only fuels creativity but also unlocks innovation across industries, from aerospace to healthcare.
With nTop's capabilities, the design-to-print process is streamlined, reducing material waste and minimizing production expenses. As a result, a new landscape is emerging where engineers can envision, create, and produce with greater speed, intricacy, and cost-effectiveness, ultimately shaping an exciting new future.
Unlock the value of AM with nTop
Are you ready to revolutionize your design and engineering processes? See for yourself why leading companies in the aerospace, automotive, medical, and consumer industries have chosen nTop as their engineering design software solution.
Senior Application Engineer at nTop
Guénaël Morvan is a Senior Application Engineer at nTop where he focuses on bringing a new generation of applications to life. Using nTop, he helps customers design, optimize, and automate applications and processes in the additive manufacturing space and now expanding to other technologies.
His work in the AM industry started in 2015 during his master thesis at the European Space Agency, working on 3D printing in low and zero gravity. With a MSc degree in Material Science and engineering, he started his career at Thales Alenia Space in France and then spent 4 years at UltiMaker, a global 3D printer manufacturer located in the Netherlands. He joined nTop in 2021.
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