“The Right Connection,” is an apt tagline for
Dixon Valve, given its positioning in the hose
coupling industry. Dixon might not have guessed
it would be equally on point in terms of the
company’s use of 3D printing. A number of years
ago, Dixon instituted an Advanced Manufacturing
Engineering Department to address the workings
of their automated and manufacturing equipment.
“We saw an opportunity to improve our efficiency
by using 3D printing to rapidly develop functional
prototypes for our gantry systems,” said Rodney
Everett, Jr., industrial engineer. The team
recommended 3D printing and the rest as they
say, is history.
The additive process’s ability to print custom manufacturing aids critical to tooling has become an important part of the company’s production process and has left engineers at the century old company embracing the future of manufacturing with 3D printing. “When we develop a new part for our customers we also have to create new tooling to aid in the manufacturing of the part,” said Everett. Prior to their first 3D printer, the company used conventional manufacturing methods to produce new tooling.
“We produce hundreds of these parts. We now use 3D printing to rapidly and efficiently produce a variety of tools that aid in the manufacturing process,” said Everett. One of the benefits of using 3D printing is that the cost is related to the exact amount of material needed, rather than the complexity of the design.