CREAT3D Case Study
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“The cost savings have been huge. If we no longer used Additive, Senior Management would immediately ask us why we are spending so much on tooling, and why’s it taking so long!”

Andy Mainstone, Senior Manufacturing Engineer, Curtiss-Wright Sensors UK


Curtiss-Wright Sensors UK forms part of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Listed on the NYSE, Curtiss-Wright Corporation was formed in 1929, through a merger of companies founded by Glenn Curtiss, the father of naval aviation, and the Wright brothers, renowned for history’s first flight. 


Today, the integrated, global, industrial company is divided into three sections of Aerospace & Industrial, Defense Electronics and Naval & Power.

Curtiss-Wright Sensors UK sits within the Aerospace and Industrial division and is based in Christchurch, Bournemouth. With a legacy dating back to 1903, Curtiss-Wright Sensors UK specialises in the design and manufacture of flight critical components for Aerospace


The Operations Team design and produce technical documentation and tooling to support Production 
and NPI departments. A fast-paced, demanding environment with daily tooling requests coming direct 
from operators and design engineers, the Operations Team have to be agile and responsive to provide 
creative, low cost and fast solutions to an array of engineering problems.

The Operations Team face the daily challenges of producing made-to-order sensors, small batches, and unique tooling which differs for every bespoke project.


How to create a flexible and agile production line to manufacture bespoke, high quality components in Aerospace.

The manufacturing process needs to be adapted to production of small batches and bespoke, one-off tooling through complex processes.


Replacing machined tooling with 3D printed tooling using Markforged Composite 3D printers.


“The speed at which we can solve problems is superb! We are made aware of the problem in 
the morning, and by lunchtime the operator has a bespoke tooling to use. It enables us to 
keep Production moving, I don’t know how we managed before Additive!”
Pete Netherton, Senior Manufacturing Engineer


> ROI on a 3D printer in just 2 months

> Lead times cut from 2-3 weeks to same or next day

> Bespoke tooling delivered direct to the production line, without delay to manufacture


Using the Mark Two composite 3D printer from Markforged to produce 3D printed tooling on  demand. Printing in Onyx (Nylon with micro carbon fibres), a non-marring material, with the 
option to add reinforcing Carbon Fibre, the Operations Team are able to produce robust, high strength, quality tooling, within hours of the original request.

> Costs Savings Generate ROI in Under Two Months

The savings achieved from 3D printing tooling in-house resulted in Curtiss-Wright Sensors UK seeing a return on investment on their printer in less than two months.

> Bespoke Tooling Delivered “Just in Time” 

In just over 2 ½ years of owning the Markforged Mark Two, the Operations Team have designed and printed over 600 different pieces of tooling.

Ranging from assembly aids, jigs, brackets, orientation and locator jigs, holding nests, blocks, covers, tools, clips, clamps, racks, trays and moulds, the applications are vast and forever expanding.

> Tooling Request System Meets High Demands

As the demands for 3D printed tooling have multiplied, the Operations Team now has  implemented a Tooling Request System that Production can submit their requirements to.


In addition, once tooling has been printed, the CAD and print files are categorised and stored, so that they can be easily accessed for repeat jobs or in the future for legacy products.


Furthermore, if a tool is lost or broken, it can be quickly reprinted from the system, reducing production line downtime and saving hundreds of pounds in using external CNC contractors.

“Production now request more tooling because they know we have the Markforged, so we can design and print it immediately, whilst the line is still in operation” highlights Pete Netherton, Senior Manufacturing Engineer.

TEST JIG T216803

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Jig to hold sensor in place during final testing


CNC Stainless Steel
£200-£300 per part
3 weeks lead time


Sensor is a legacy component, produced in small quantities but requires unique hold for final testing during quality control


Jig is 3D printed in Onyx

(Nylon with micro carbon-fibres)
• Print time 13 hours
• Cost per jig £33.60
Results in 88.8% cost saving and

97.4% time saving

“The shop floor is constantly surprised by the quality and speed at which our team can 3D print their requests. Previously, tooling requests may have gone unanswered, or slow to resolve, because they were cost prohibitive, or there was too much demand on the internal Machine Shop.

Now, using our Markforged 3D printer, we can deliver solutions to Production the same or next day, whilst manufacturing is underway.”

Andy Mainstone, Senior Manufacturing Engineer,

Curtiss-Wright Sensors UK

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As an independent Solutions Provider for Additive Manufacturing Technologies, we will share our cross-industry knowledge with you, so your company can gain a competitive advantage.

Contact our team to discuss your application and receive a free test print.