As you can see from the prototype stage video above engineers can now make assembly aids and simple hand tools very easily. The particular application you are looking at was developed by one of our customers to help with the assembly of their connectors in tight places, such as the engine bays of aircraft.

Following feedback from customers, via the sales team, the engineering department set about trying to find a way to assemble their components in areas with restricted access. The initial idea started life as a fag packet sketch, which is still common place these days, and was quickly transposed on to the CAD system. Using simple 2D kinematics validated the theory and the parts were turned in to solid models with various features being added along the way.

A final CAD model saw the parts converted over to .STL, which was loaded into ‘Eiger’ the Markforged 3D printing software. At that point a quick 200µm layer height prototype with 50% fill was made and the concept was proved successful. The Eiger software is free with each machine and the administrator can invite colleagues to view models, modify their own parts and create prints without any additional cost, so quite a few engineers took a look at the parts. 

Having a working prototype in their hands the engineers called sales and discussed the results, at this point the team had mainly used items that were available inside the business to keep development costs down. The part was in principle a ‘goer’ and the team set about refining the design for end use and for an additive manufacturing process. 

– Handles were given to flats on the side for ease of manufacturing and a lower material cost as a round handle served no useful purpose.

– The areas around the holes were made larger to take the concentric rings of carbon fibre infill.

– An isotropic fill of carbon fibre was added around the centre line of the part, to give it strength in the plane of actuation.

Low-volume production of these assembly aids is now a reality and, as well as using them on their own shop floor, our customer can now provide this tool free of charge with every order for its connectors too. As you would expect having the company’s logo printed on the side the sales team are delighted too.