Application deep-dive: Maximizing production efficiency with custom jigs at ERIKS

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David Durbin

April 25, 2024

Companies are always seeking to streamline processes, enhance precision, and reduce the risk of human error. So much so that more manufacturers are turning to 3D printing to create custom jigs and fixtures, making them one of the most powerful applications for additive technology.

But beyond the buzz of innovation, how can 3D printers directly address your production challenges?

To answer that question, we caught up with Jesse Ippel, an Application Engineer at ERIKS. And what was his best advice for finding new, useful 3D printing applications?

To socialize 3D printing within your company and to be a good listener.

Our production team often comes up to me with issues and challenges they face. They know that we can 3D print tools and so they ask if we can 3D print something like this.

When you consider that these operators are working on production day in and day out, this makes perfect sense. Ultimately, they will figure out what works best for them.

Jesse advises how to 3D print useful jigs and fixtures

Jesse (left) advises that 3D printing useful jigs and fixtures depends on listening well to the ERIKS production team

Jesse explains, “Whenever I just walk onto the production floor, the operators always ask, ‘can we do this, can we do that?’ There are more things that they notice that I will never notice, and that's where the power of 3D printing really lies.”

Let’s look at two 3D printing applications that were created from this collaboration between ERIK’s application engineers and production team.

Examples of time-saving 3D printing applications

As a multi-product specialist, ERIKS offers a wide range of mechanical engineering components and technical services to all sections of industry. And the company has embraced 3D printing to enhance their production efficiency.

By integrating custom jigs and fixtures into their workflow, they have streamlined their processes and reduced manual labor. To get a comprehensive view of how ERIKS is making the most of 3D printing, be sure to read their customer success story.

Box drilling jig

The production team at ERIKS needed to drill four precise holes in each corner of a small plastic box. This task used to take up to two minutes to measure by hand.

To accelerate this process, Jesse designed a custom 3D printed jig, reducing the hole preparation to just seconds. The design included openings to reduce material use and to make it easy for operators to see that the jig was flush against the box. UltiMaker PLA in the company's brand color provided the durability needed for frequent use while maintaining a professional appearance consistent with ERIKS' branding.

3D printed drilling jig

The blue 3D printed drilling jig allows operators to drill accurate holes in the black boxes in seconds rather than minutes

We like to use PLA because it's super convenient. We just throw it in the 3D printer. And it always works.

Jesse then went into more detail about the process of creating the box drilling jig.

“So we had a couple of iterations of the design. The first one didn't quite fit snugly enough on the box. So we adjusted it slightly. Then we also added the small metal tube as a press-fit insert.”

This allows ERIKS operators to drill without worrying that jig’s guide holes will become larger, affecting their accurate positioning. Jesse also added magnetic inserts into a holder for the box and jig. This then snaps onto a metal vice on the workbench, providing a stable platform for the assembly while drilling.

Motor support jig

To more easily fix a motor to a metal plate and add an electronic component to the motor, ERIKS developed a support jig to aid the process. Before the creation of this jig, the production team would balance the motor and plate on a roll of duct tape to keep the motor axle off the work surface. The 3D printed jig offers a far superior solution.

It features a hole which fits the motor axle perfectly, keeping the motor stable off the work surface and not allowing it to turn. The 3D printed side column supports the addition of an electric component without the assembly tipping over. This simplifies the process for operators and minimizes the chance of assembly errors.

3D printed motor jig

A custom 3D printed jig perfectly supports adding an electrical component to a motor. Before, operators balanced the assembly on a roll of duct tape

The jig was also easy to design using Trinckle software. This allowed an ERIKS engineer with less CAD experience to load a model of the motor into Trinckle and easily create a mesh for the 3D printed part around it.

The result? This jig has cut assembly time from two to three minutes down to one, making the job significantly easier for the production staff.

For both applications, the 3D printing team at ERIKS always adds unique reference code to the 3D printed design. This helps engineers and operators to easily identify the correct and most recent jig iteration to be used on the production floor.

Why ERIKS chose UltiMaker S7 for manufacturing aids

The decision to use the UltiMaker S7 for creating these manufacturing aids was rooted in the printer's versatility, ease of use, and material compatibility. The printer's reliability and consistent performance ensure that these jigs can be created quickly and withstand the rigors of a fast-paced production environment.

For us the primary benefit of 3D printing is speed. How quickly can we get something? And that is where 3D printers are the fastest option you can get. I can turn on a print job at 2 pm one day, and the next morning I come into the office and now I have the tools ready. So that is the main factor why we choose 3D printing over conventional methods, whenever we can. Cost is a side benefit for us.

UltiMaker's reliable 3D printing ecosystem

The reliability of the UltiMaker ecosystem allows the ERIKS application engineers to start a print job in the afternoon and it’s ready the next morning


The use of custom 3D printed jigs and fixtures is transforming manufacturing workflows by improving efficiency, consistency, and quality. The examples from ERIKS illustrate the significant benefits that can be realized by adopting these practices. Other companies can look to these success stories as inspiration for optimizing their own production processes, leveraging the power of 3D printing with tools like UltiMaker S7 or UltiMaker Factor 4.

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