As a global leader in the medical device industry, Medtronic’s core mission is to transform healthcare through innovation. Central to that is its ability to streamline the production process and get products to market faster. At Medtronic’s Restorative Therapy Group (RTG) division, in Warsaw, Indiana, 3D printed gages, jigs and fixtures are the silent heroes that keep manufacturing running smoothly. They support multiple CNC & other machine platforms in a 24/7 production environment. Since the manufacturing areas are arranged as production cells, the modularity of the designs fit each individual cell’s needs.
They are also helping in metrology, quality control, assembly, laser etch and even maintenance. 3D printed items are used to hold, position, protect, organize and assemble at all stages of the manufacturing process. While 3D printing jigs and fixtures saves significant dollars and time verses machining, the financial impact comes from maintaining continuous flow of the production line. Richard Booth, a senior design engineer for gages, fixtures and jigs for over 17 years at Medtronic’s RTG division emphasizes, “Time is everything. With 3D printing, if an engineering request comes through and a jig needs to be changed for production to continue, it can be designed, printed, and ready within hours or days vs. two to three weeks with our internal machine shop or six to eight weeks with an outside vendor, at a significant savings.”