Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 12


SERVICE

S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y

B UY AMERICAN

C ANADA MANUFACTURING

AH
S R EXPO 2016

P R O F I TA B I L I T Y

COLUMN BY | JUSTIN COUTU

competition are the ones that continue to invest in their design and manufacturing processes. Here's a great
example.
Industry giant Xerox recently introduced a low-volume printer to serve
a specialized market that needs features not found in high-volume printers. However, the printer required a
longer cable with a new connector to
accommodate its additional features.
The connector manufacturer needed
a minimum order of 1 million units
to retool for the new connector, but
there was another alternative.
"We found another cable that was
long enough but the connectors did
not fit the new printer," says Duane
Byerley, senior model maker for
Xerox. "Then we noticed that if we
flipped the connector 180 degrees it
came close to fitting. All that we need-

12

manufacturing-today.com MARCH/APRIL 2016

ed to do was remove the ribs, a tab and
a clip. I pulled out an X-Acto knife and
in about 20 minutes was able to cut
away the extraneous geometry and
make the connector work. But this
approach was too slow, expensive and
imprecise to make more than a few
parts." Xerox needed 350 connectors
modified immediately for testing.
"We have used FDM to make many
different types of tooling, so I started
thinking of how I could utilize FDM to
make tooling to modify the connectors," Byerley says.
The first requirement was supporting the surface to be cut. Using the
CAD file, Byerley created the negative
of the existing connector geometry
as the basis for an FDM piece that fits
like a glove. The next step was building a punch. Byerley designed a twopiece FDM blade holder to carry four

X-Acto blades in the U-shape needed
to punch out the extraneous geometry. He designed tapped holes into
one of the FDM pieces so that the two
white FDM pieces supported each
connector during punching.
"If you can imagine it and draw it in
CAD, you can build it in FDM," Byerley says. "I assembled the punch, inserted it into a toggle press and began
making connectors only four and half
hours from the time I began working
on the problem."
An operator punched out the 350
pieces that were needed immediately in about an hour. It would have
taken about three weeks to produce
the prototype parts by hand or a total of five weeks for a contractor to
make a steel rule die and attach it to
the press.
The time savings made it possible


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016

Contents
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 1
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 2
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Contents
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - 4
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Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover3
Manufacturing Today - March/April 2016 - Cover4
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