Japanese electronics company Ricoh Co. is replacing traditional metal tools with customized 3D printed jigs and fixtures for its production technology center assembly line in Japan.
U.S.-based Stratasys Ltd. has supplied the 3D technology for Ricoh's assembly line, which is located in the northeast branch of Ricoh Industries in Miyagi prefecture, Japan and is dedicated to manufacturing large-format printers.
Stratasys' Fortus 900mc Production 3D Printer will produce the tools in ABS, enabling Ricoh to customize each tool while reducing weight.
This, said Stratasys, has enabled Ricoh to accelerate the manufacturing process in which an operator typically handles more than 200 parts each day.
“Because we are producing an enormous number of parts, it takes a lot of time and effort to identify the right jigs and fixtures for each one. This manual process has become even lengthier as the number of components grows, requiring that an operator examine the shape, orientation and angle of each part before taking out a tool and placing it back in its original fixture,” explained Taizo Sakaki, senior manager of business development at Ricoh Group.
With the 3D printing technology, Sakaki went on to say, Ricoh is able customize the tools according to the part and produce them on demand.
This, he added, has helped the company restructure and modernize its production process.