Using 3D-printed jigs in its production environment has enabled Austria’s Pankl Racing systems (a subsidiary of KTM Industries) to achieve savings of around €150,000.

At its new €36 million facility in Kapfenberg, the company has also increased its capacity to produce entire gear assemblies for a well-known motorcycle manufacturer. In doing so, it had to create more than a dozen different transmission models, each of which included around 10 gears.

The actual gear wheels required now undergo several processing phases during production (which involves automated lathing, stress-relief annealing, and other techniques). In each phase, specific jigs are needed that used to be made out of metal. To reduce its lead time by several weeks, Pankl has begun relying on 3D-printed variants.

These jigs were created using three Form2 stereolithographic printers from Formlabs, which reports that it was then possible to incorporate the printed units directly into Pankl's production line. In addition to its new jigs, Pankl is producing prototypes and gripping attachments for robotic arms on its 3D printers.

Instead of taking several weeks, Pankl's 3D-printed jigs were ready to use in just 5 to 10 hours. The company has managed to achieve significant cost reductions, as well: While a machined jig used to cost around €40-50 (and more complex parts up to €300), Pankl says that a printed variant runs between just €8.50 and €25. Based on the more than 1,000 jigs Pankl needs over the course of an entire production run, 3D printing is thus saving the company more than €150,000 in manufacturing costs.

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