Self-build Fixture for AM Substrate Build Plates | 3M BIC

build plate

The 3M BIC boasts two metal 3D/ Additive manufacture (AM) printers – Renishaw AM500 (Titanium) and Renishaw AM400 (Stainless Steel 316l). The design team carried out an internal project to create a build plate that would streamline the process when taking 3D builds out of the machines.


Relatively light density supports can often be removed simply using cold chisels, however, most parts have a high density of supports and need to be removed using a bandsaw, which isn’t always practical to hold the plate in place.

The final fixture needed to hold the plate perpendicular to the surface of the bandsaw base and have parallel sides, with sufficient surface area to ensure it is securely held in the hydraulic vice. It also needed to be strong enough to withstand repeated use in the vice, have sufficient stiffness to ensure there is no distortion when the blade descends during cutting and be able to tolerate the cutting environment of coolant oil, some heat and swarf. Holes also needed to be added to allow the substrate to be securely held on the fixture using the corresponding holes in the build plate (4 x 5mm socket head cap screws).


Using our EOS Formiga P110 Selective Laser Sintering [SLS] printer we developed a prototype using polyamide powder.  The build volume of the EOS machine is 200 x 250 x 330 mm3 and the substrates/build plates are 250mm x 250mm x 15mm.

Rather than use the standard Polyamide 12 powder, we chose to use Alumide, which is Polyamide 12 mixed with aluminium, which makes it slightly stiffer with excellent machining properties.

We were very quickly able to produce the design using in-house CAD software and obtain a 3D file which we could then print on our metal 3D printers.


Within 24 hours we were able to print off the fixture and get it in to service on the bandsaw.

The accuracy of the print process meant there was no final machining required and it went into service straight from breaking out from the powder.  Since then, we have used it for all builds, and have no plans to retire it.  It has coped well with the demands made on it and the environment of coolant and swarf it is used in.


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