Additive manufacturing (3D printing) has been used to create a jig for specialist fire door manufacturing, increasing accuracy and productivity as fewer doors are rejected during safety checks.
The project needed to ensure that beading around the window panels on the fire doors held the glass inserts securely.
Pendle Doors, based in Blackburn, Lancashire, used an air gun to insert the pins holding the beading in place. It wanted to find out whether using a jig to hold the gun would ensure the pins consistently went into the doors at the right angle.
The family-run business teamed up with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) North West, which created a CAD model of the air gun that was then used to develop a model for the jig.
Dominic Haigh, project engineer at AMRC North West, part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, said: “We tested and modified the first design to make sure it remained securely attached to the gun – and when we knew it worked well, we produced ten of the 3D printed jigs, so the company would have enough to last a while.”
Haigh added: “This was a project that really shows how businesses can use additive manufacturing in their processes and to save costs, even if they don’t use it to make their products directly.”
Set up in the 1950s, Pendle makes a range of fire doors for healthcare, residential, leisure and education.
Since the project, it has bought its own 3D printer which has produced “massive gains in productivity” and saved money – and been used for a range of items such as machine parts, jigs, to a scaled plan of its 30,000 sq ft manufacturing site.
Operations director Ryan Anderson said: “The team at AMRC North West provided us with a brilliant idea to help us solve a production problem we were having. This enabled us to ensure we were staying compliant in our supply of potentially life-saving fire doors.”