To solve the problem, Caterpillar used a 3D printed fixture that correctly positions the outlet tubes before they are clamped and bolted down. A circular indicator with degree marks is built into the fixture to help the assembler verify the breather port tube is angled properly for alignment with the connecting hardware added later. An advantage of 3D printing this type of check fixture is that it can be easily printed in one piece in a relatively short time with the position marks incorporated during the print operation.

Since adding the fixture into the assembly process, Caterpillar has eliminated mispositioned outlet tubes. Given typical daily production levels, this saves three to five hours of rework each day. It’s a good example of how FDM 3D printed tools and manufacturing aids can be quickly deployed to improve quality and avoid productivity-killing rework.