Tessa Axsom

Tessa Axsom is a technical writer at Fictiv with 10 years of experience in Engineering, encompassing quality management, metallurgy, design engineering, and technical writing. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and is passionate about sharing her knowledge and experience. Connect with her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tessa-axsom/

All articles from the author

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Casting vs CNC Machining: We’re No Longer in the Bronze Age, But Is It Right for Your Part?

Casting, a process whereby molten metal is poured into a mold, has been around for over 6,000 years and is still widely used today. Advances in casting technology enable the casting of high quality parts with tight tolerances, not unlike CNC machining, a newer manufacturing method that’s also widely used.  But have you ever considered […]

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CNC Materials Series: Pros and Cons of Different Aluminum Alloys

Aluminum, or aluminium if you’re from the UK, is my favorite metal because of its high strength to weight ratio and suitability for a wide range of manufacturing applications. Aluminum is a commonly utilized material in many industries, and there are many aluminum alloys for CNC machining, CNC milling, CNC turning, welding, brazing, casting, stamping, […]

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What is metrology?

In a broad sense, metrology is the scientific study of measurement. Metrology encompasses both experimental and theoretical measurements, at any given uncertainty, for any field in STEM. And dimensional metrology is one of the main pillars of quality measurement systems in a manufacturing facility. Dimensional metrology is utilized to determine if parts are the correct […]

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3D Printing to CNC Machining: When to Make the Switch

3D printing, an additive manufacturing process, has made its way into almost every industry. From automotive to fashion, it has improved the way companies in a variety of fields do new product development. However, long before 3D printing revolutionized prototyping, CNC (computer numerical control) machining dominated the manufacturing world. If your job is to design […]

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The Engineer’s Guide to AC vs DC Motors

While different electric motors serve vastly different purposes, their core function remains the same—to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy. Motors are the opposite of generators, because they convert electrical energy into mechanical energy, while generators convert another form of energy into electricity (you can see a huge deconstructed generator undergoing maintenance at the Hoover […]

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3 Career Paths for Industrial Designers

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the field of industrial design is expected to grow substantially over the next eight years. And, with an average salary of $77,030 a year reported in 2021 (but closer to $104,000 in San Francisco), the field promises great job security and financial stability. Plus, design thinking, a […]

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How To Make a Great Engineering Drawing Manufacturers Will Understand

Before the invention of CNC (Computer Numerical Control), machinists relied solely on 2D engineering drawings to determine machining steps and parameters. Manufacturing has come a long way since then, thanks to precise 3D modeling and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) programs.  In 2022, we’re fortunate to be able to import solid 3D models into a CNC […]

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How to Choose the Best Fasteners for 3D Printed Parts

We get a lot of questions about the best methods for fastening different 3D printed components. When prototyping hardware products — like electronics enclosures or robotic assemblies — you often need to design mating structures that are more complex than a single 3D printed component. Other times, you may need to print components larger than […]

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Best CNC Machining Robotics Components

The year is 2050, and robots… are… everywhere. They’re delivering packages, driving cars, piloting airplanes, and tending to the sick and elderly.  Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but it’s no joke that robots are more common with each passing year. In my house, I have a robotic vacuum, a robotic speaker, robotic toys, and some […]

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CNC Materials Series: Best Methods for Cleaning CNC Machined Parts (An Overview)

Cleaning is defined as the removal  of dirt, impurities, or extraneous matter. You may not think of cleaning as an important part of your manufacturing processes, but it’s a critical post-CNC machining process. Why? Improper cleaning can result in quality issues that are entirely preventable with the proper methods. Here are some of those issues: […]

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CAD File Formats and How to Export Them for 3D Printing

There are a lot of CAD (computer-aided design) file types out there, each with its own names, formats, and parameters. From STEP files to STL files, to IGES and more, it can be difficult to differentiate between them. This article will help you understand the difference between these file types, and which are best for uploading […]

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GD&T: A Step-By-Step Guide

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T) is the building block of modern engineering drawings. To learn the basics of GD&T, check out our GD&T 101 article which includes the definitions and utilization of:  CNC machining tolerances The Datum Reference Frame (DRF) Interpreting GD&T Symbols Applying Geometric Symbols to Engineering Drawings The Feature Control Frame Communicating Basic […]

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How to Prepare Files for Uploading to Fictiv

At Fictiv, we receive lots of different types files each day. In the world of 3D modeling, there are lots of options for sharing CAD data, each with their own strengths and weakness. When preparing to upload files to Fictiv, we prefer to receive a STEP file, but also accept properly exported STL files. STEP […]

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O-Ring Groove (Gland) Design Guide

Let’s say you designed a mechanical assembly that requires some sort of mechanical sealing. Or you have a maintenance project that requires additional sealing to a new joint. Perhaps your assembly has a fluid reservoir, requires cooling fluid to pass through, or you’re joining two components together and need them to sit flush. To solve […]

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How to Design Snap Fit Components

Designing components with snap-fits can save you time and money in production by reducing material costs and part quantities, as well as making assembly easier. In the past, injection molding was the only viable method for producing snap-fit joints in plastics. However, today 3D printing has opened up both new opportunities and challenges in their […]

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Overview of Types of Vertical Mills

The world of CNC machining can be overwhelming — I’ve personally gotten turned around by all the CNC machining jargon before. There’s a whole dictionary of commonly used acronyms and when you head to research what they mean, there isn’t a lot of data available.  Within the CNC milling machine classification, there are many types […]

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CNC Machining Complex Parts

Across the manufacturing industry, innovations in technology for CNC milling, turning, and wire EDM have allowed for highly complex geometries to be machined with ease. In this article, we discuss the types of complex parts that may be fabricated and manufactured with CNC — and how Fictiv may be the right company to manufacture your […]

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How to Conduct a Tolerance Analysis for 3D Printed Parts

Once you have modeled your parts in CAD software, you may be tempted to send them off to be manufactured in your 3D printer. However, before doing so you should perform a tolerance analysis to make sure what you’re printing “stacks up.” Tolerance Analysis, or tolerance stack-up as it is sometimes known, is a critical […]

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Aluminum Anodizing: All You Need to Know

Aluminum Anodizing Overview The anodizing process (sometimes known as anodization) converts the surface of aluminum into a thicker, more uniform oxide layer through an electrolytic process. Electrochemically anodizing aluminum produces an aluminum oxide surface that has: Corrosion resistance A pleasing appearance Wear resistance Improved paint or adhesive bonding Improved lubricity Improved plating adhesion This article […]

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Which Type of CNC Cutting is Best for Your Parts?

Whether you have a new and exciting part design, or you’ve been asked to optimize an existing part, choosing the optimal CNC cutting method can be difficult. CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining is a large and growing industry, encapsulating a variety of manufacturing processes — all aimed at producing parts by removing material. In this […]

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Precision CNC Machining: How Can You Make Your Parts More Precise?

When you hear precision CNC machining, what comes to mind? Isn’t all CNC machining “precision?” In a sense, yes. CNC machining allows you quickly manufacture precise parts in large volumes. However, it goes much further than that. In this article, we’ll discuss: What is precision CNC machining?  How do you verify that your parts are […]

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CNC Machining for Prototyping

In simple terms, prototyping is the process of physically building a model or draft of an idea. As engineers, prototyping is a crucial step in the product development process whereby a solid model comes to life and we can touch, see and interact with it. Historically, prototyping has been a lengthy and expensive process, but […]

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What is ISO 2768? A Guide to Tolerance Standards for CNC Machining

Determining the correct tolerances to apply to your product design can be challenging. There are natural variations amongst products that occur in mass production and you should plan for these deviations when you are applying tolerances to products.  That said, you can decide how much a fabricated product can deviate from the engineering drawing dimensions […]

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10 Macro Trends in Manufacturing for 2022

What’s a macro trend (also known as a macrotrend)? While a trend is a general shift toward a specific thing, a macro trend is a persistent and widespread shift on a global scale. Examples include urbanization, automation, and globalization. It’s much longer-lasting than a fad and tends to change national or global culture and practices.  […]

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3-Axis to 12-Axis: CNC Milling Machine Capabilities Compared

Computer Numerical Control (or CNC) machining combines the efficiency of computer programming with the customizability of subtractive manufacturing. The CNC controller works in conjunction with mechanical components such as axes, motors, and drive components to automate the manufacturing process and maintain quality and repeatability. There are many different types of CNC machines on the market […]

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10 Trends Shaping the Future of Supply Chain Management

The global supply chain continues to evolve rapidly, keeping pace with the breakneck technological advancements of the modern era. Though it can be difficult for supply chain managers and business leaders to stay on top of these changes, it’s crucial to do so to maintain supply chain resilience and increase the success of your business. […]

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Our Best Tips for Sustainable CNC Machining

You may be reading this because you’re personally committed to protecting the environment. Perhaps your organization has made bold sustainability commitments to your shareholders, customers, and society at large. Now it’s up to you to understand how such a rugged, industrial manufacturing process can be modified to fit the call to reduce carbon emissions (lower […]

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Slip Fit Tolerances and Geometry

Have you recently assembled Ikea furniture? If so, I apologize. I send my condolences for the frustration you experienced when the holes did not line up with the pins you put in other holes or when you realized you were missing a fastener. The good news is that you did gain something from the experience […]

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CNC Machining with Robotics – Outlook and Manufacturing of Cobots in CNC Machining

Collaborative robots, commonly known as cobots, are so named because they are designed to provide collaborative, safe assistance to people. The first cobot was invented in 1996 by J. Edward Colgate and Michael Pashkin – and today, cobots are growing increasingly popular in manufacturing and industrial settings, performing simple, repetitive tasks such as feeding a […]

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EDM – Electrical Discharge Machining – Choosing the Best Materials

EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining) is a rapidly growing and versatile manufacturing method for cutting parts out of stock material. In 2022, the EDM market is growing at a rapid, predictable rate of 6.9% CAGR (based on a market size of US$5.3 billion in the year 2020 and projected growth through 2027).  What is the Electrical […]

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How to Write an Engineering Requirements Document

The Product Requirements Document (PRD aka Product Requirement Document) is a familiar term to most engineers. Typically, we get the PRD from a product manager; it tells us what to build but not how to build it. But let’s face it, it’s probably better that way. Engineers hate being told how to implement an idea — that’s the fun […]

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Creating Involute Gears in CAD

Say you’re 3D printing a robot, and you’re designing a sweet gearing system to make your robot move smoothly. You can choose to 3D print or CNC machine involute gears for simple and reliable incorporation in your robot design. What to do about the fact that most CAD programs don’t have a “create involute gears” button? Welp, you’ll […]

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Pressure Testing CNC Machined, Cast Parts: Our Best Tips

Pressure testing, or leak testing, CNC machined, cast parts is a common functional test performed on parts and assemblies for the automotive, aerospace and medical industries. Read on to learn our best tips for pressure testing, including how it works, when to pressure test, pressure testing specifications and pressure testing methods.  What is Pressure Testing? […]

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How to Cut CNC Machining Costs

Known for a having a hardworking and meticulous nature, Abraham Lincoln once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” While you probably aren’t reading this article for tree-felling advice, what Abe was getting at is that careful planning is important for any […]

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CNC Materials Series: Tips for CNC Machining Titanium for Medical and Aerospace Industries

Titanium (Ti) is a shiny metal with a high corrosion resistance and high strength. Titanium is impressively lightweight and biocompatible. Titanium is a transition metal with atomic number 22, period 4 and group 4 on the periodic table. It has a hexagonal crystal structure and two electrons in its fourth orbital, with an electron configuration […]

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How is Agile Manufacturing Impacting CNC Machining?

When you think of agility, something that comes to mind may be the agility competitions for dogs that are broadcast for interested parties to cheer their favorite dog on. You might recall the obstacles the dogs must navigate (typically 14-20), in order to secure a qualifying score or win. Dog agility competitions are serious, with […]

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Recommended Wall Thickness for 3D Printing

One of the most important considerations when designing parts for 3D printing in 2022 is the 3D printing wall thickness, sometimes referred to as the wall thickness. While 3D printing makes prototyping easier than ever—not only in terms of cost and speed, but also in regards to DFM (design for manufacturing), you can’t disregard DFM […]

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CNC Materials Series: Common Materials Used in CNC Projects

CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machining has been around for decades. CNC machining is more popular than ever with today’s technological advancements in machining, along with a vast array of superior metal alloys such as superalloys. There is a wide array of CNC machining providers from in-house machining services to outsourced manufacturers to the innovative on-demand […]

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CNC Plastics Selection Guide

The first step in designing a part is to determine what material it should be made out of. If you decide the part should be plastic, and it should be CNC machined, the selection does not simply stop there. There is a plethora of machinable plastic to choose from for plastic machining in 2022, each […]

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Engineering Fundamentals Refresh: Strength vs. Stiffness vs. Hardness

Understanding the differences amongst the mechanical properties of strength vs. stiffness vs. hardness is foundational in mechanical engineering, yet these properties can often be confused. These properties are related, but there are very important differences between them:  Stiffness is an indicator of the tendency for an element to return to its original form after being […]

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Hardware Testing 101

Software and hardware engineers alike have heard some form of this advice: “Build lots of prototypes; iterate as fast as you can.” For those of us in the hardware industry, these prototypes can cost a lot of time and money. So, while we should strive to iterate quickly, we must also get as much information […]

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Best Practices for Fixing Solidworks Import Errors

Like most SOLIDWORKS software users, you likely collaborate with other people on part designs or assembly projects. Collaboration is typically a good thing. After all, two heads are better than one, right? However, not everyone uses SOLIDWORKS, so the people you collaborate with likely end up sending you files with extensions like IGES, QIF, JT, […]

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Methods for Cleaning 3D Printed Parts

You’ve envisioned it, you’ve modeled it, and you’ve printed it. As it turns out, however, your newly printed prototype may need a bit more TLC before it appears, or functions as intended. 3D printed part finishing often involves a cleaning step to improve appearances or remove unwanted support material.  The purpose of this article is […]

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Design Methods to Improve Torsional Rigidity

Products that are subject to a torsional load often require analysis like the analysis used for bending stiffness. The main differences are the specific material property to be used (Shear Modulus or Modulus of Rigidity) and the polar moment of inertia (which is very similar to the area moment of inertia used in bending). Torsion […]

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Heat Sink Design Guide & Considerations

In a world of ever-increasing electronics, our lives are continuously impacted by devices that incorporate some sort of heat-generating circuitry. When it comes to electronics that dissipate power in the form of heat during normal operation, it is often necessary to manage this heat, to ensure the components don’t exceed their maximum allowable temperatures. One […]

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Ultimate Guide to Finishing 3D Printed Parts

The purpose of this article is to detail the different finishing methods for FDM and PolyJet 3D printed parts and the techniques/tips that can elevate the look and feel of your prototypes. A simple Apple Watch stand design will be utilized as a case study. This stand is a model with pockets and internal and […]

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From Snap Fits to Adhesives: A Comprehensive Guide to Mechanical Fastener Options

Fictiv’s guide to fasteners for 3D printed parts includes an overview of threaded inserts, self-threading screws, how to design threads, captured hex nuts, and cutting threads with a tap. In this article, we’re going to dive in a bit deeper with a more comprehensive guide to all the options available for plastic fastening assemblies, including: […]

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3 Tips for Stronger 3D Printed Parts

Depending on the intended use case for your 3D printed part, structural integrity can be a crucial ingredient. It could be a matter of ensuring that your product doesn’t collapse when used or even a matter of ensuring user safety. The world in 2022 seeing a vastly accelerated need for 3D printed parts in mult-disciplinary […]

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Fillets: When to Use ‘Em, When to Lose ‘Em

Fillets are one of those mysterious design features for which there seem to be no clearly defined rules. Either a part is entirely devoid of fillets, and most or all edges are well-defined, or the part’s designer decided to take the opposite route, and every single edge and corner is rounded with some size of […]

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Stress Concentrations: How to Identify and Reduce Them in Your Designs

Today’s product complexity, along with increasing downward pressure on overall pricing, has led to an inevitable increase in the geometric complexity of mechanical components. The increased geometric complexity allows components to be utilized in an advanced way, typically performing multiple functions. This multi-functional utilization has led to complex load transfers, resulting in new stress concentrations. […]

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Your Guide to New Product Introduction (NPI)

Developing a new product and bringing it to market is a massive undertaking, but it’s also what drives the advancement of any industry. The Harvard Business Review says that “ideally, a successful new product can set industry standards—standards that become another company’s barrier to entry—or open up crucial new markets.”  Not every product can pace […]

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Working with Copper: Design, Machining, and Finish Requirements

Copper is a truly versatile metal. Copper has a naturally beautiful, shiny finish that makes it desirable for artwork, cookware, kitchen backsplashes, countertops, and even jewelry. It also has excellent material and electrical properties for engineered, complex parts, like EDM electrodes. There are many benefits to using copper for machined parts. Copper is one of […]

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CNC Machining Copper Alloy EDM Electrodes

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) is an amazing technology that can manufacture complex shapes in a variety of conductive materials — and it produces tightly toleranced parts with excellent finishes. EDM is a subtractive electro-thermal manufacturing method that utilizes electricity to erode the surface of a part.  Basics of Electrical Discharge Machining In general, EDM can […]

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CNC Machining vs. Manual Machining

Humans do not like change. Believe it or not, after calculators were invented, some people refused to give up their slide rules. Similarly, CNC machining was invented decades ago, yet there are still those who prefer manual machining techniques. This preference persists despite CNC technology’s ability to manufacture and replicate precision parts that are fully […]

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How to Select CNC Machining Tolerances When You Have Complex Requirements

Sometimes juggling all the requirements for tolerancing your part can feel like a circus act. As a design engineer, you must choose machining tolerances for fit, form, function, customer requirements, industry specifications,manufacturing capabilities, and don’t forget about making sure it can be inspected and properly defined. Whew! It’s a struggle to create parts which are […]