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Job Shop "Leans" On 3D Printer to Solve Clamping Problem

Canadian job shop, Lean Machine, is finding that Markforged's 3D printers were an excellent solution for a recent clamping issue and, in addition, are producing parts in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional processes.

Lean Machine is a metal fabrication job shop in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, specializing in custom machining with a 5-axis CNC mill and working primarily for the commercial transportation and mining sector.

Using a 3D printer, Lean Machine manufactured a durable vise 66% faster and at a 75% lower cost.



A job for a customer required Kurt vises to hold a component while the mill cut the part. Engineers needed to mill cantilevered workpieces, which meant that they had to control media removal.

To avoid collision between the mill head and the vise, the stock would have to be clamped 12-14 inches from the cutting area. This was not an acceptable option, as a cantilevered part takes longer to machine and results in a less accurate cut.

The team members considered building their own metal custom vise, however they could not justify the $6,000 price tag. Instead, the team used its Mark Two 3D printer from Markforged to create a low-profile custom vise and soft jaw combination.

The addition of a Markforged Mark Two helped Lean Machine R&D Engineer Josh Grasby solve the problem by using 3D printed components to build the cost-effective, custom solution. Comprised of over two dozen 3D printed continuous carbon fiber reinforced components combined with off-the-shelf parts, Lean Machine's custom printed vise can clamp 1.5 inches from the end of the extrusion, as opposed to 12-14 inches. The result is that now complex workpieces, such as the cantilevered steel, can be accurately milled without wasting any material.

The Mark Two combines Markforged's unique continuous carbon fiber reinforcement with workhorse reliability for the strongest, most versatile parts.



With the success of this project, the company has since taken on more complex jobs, all while applying a design for additive manufacturing approach to solving other problems they come across.

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