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about the book . ..

Copyrighted MIIe"e'
This rererenwlrxl illustrutcs recently developed computerized
fhaun: design and verification technology. kcying on their mic in
manufacturing processes--cmployinglhe latest compulrr lechnology to minimize
costs. productivity. and product quality.
Renccling the authors' extensive experience in manufacturing and lixturing fur
industry. Fixture /Hsign discU$ses the fundamentals of
aided design (CAFD) techniques ... covers the uses of a fixture component
database and n "group technology" (GT) retrieval .. .illuslrates
modular in cllmplcx configurations :tmcnllble to frequent adjustment and
improvement. .. introduces the newly developed automated modular tixture
configurution design h!chnique . .. integrutcs computeraided design. process plan
ning. tooling. and manufacturing ... three gencrutillns uf CAFD systems.
demonstr.lling their progressive increases in efficiency ond their growing need for
more sophisticated computer analysis . .. and mon:o
Containing ncarly I ()(Kl references. drawings. photographs. and equations.
Computu-Aidtd Fixture Design is a versatile rererenee for mechanical.
manufacturing. industrial. and software engineers. and an excellent lexl for
IIdvanced undel}!raduutc and graduate studc:nt' in these disciplines.
about the authors . ..
YtMtS" (KF. vts) Ro;o.;G is an Associate Pmfessor of Mechanical EnginL'Cring at the
Worcester P\.lytcchnic Institute:. Worcester. Massachusctts. The author or coauthor
of over lOO journal aniclcs. conference presentations. and book chapters. he is a
mc:mber of tht American SocielY of Mechanical Engineers. the Society of
Manufacluring Engineers. and the Chinese Mechanical Engineering Society. Dr.
Rong receiwd the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Humin
University of Science :md Technology. Harbin. China. the M.S. degree (1984) in
manufacturing engineering from Tsinghua University. Bcijing. China. the M.S.
degree (1987) in industrial engineering from the University ofWisconsin- Mudison.
and the Ph.D. degree (1989) in mechanical engineering front the University of
Kenlucky. Lexington.
Y"OXtASIl (STEPfl ENS) ZIW is the: Director of Research Administration ut the Beijing
Inslitute of Machinery Industry. Beijing. China.. A professor of mechanical
engineering ut TsinghulI UniversilY. Beijing. for uver 30 years. he is Ihe author of
more than 50 technical books. joumalllniclc.s. book chapters. and translations. He is
a member of the Society of Manufllcturing Engineers and u senior member of the
Chinese Mechanical Engineering Association. Professor Zhu graduated from
Tsinghua University. Bcijing. China. in 1953.
Pri",,,d ill ,Ir" Ulli/"d Sia,,,S IIf ,\maim
Copyrighted Mete"el
9
CIMPITEI-AIIEI
FIXTlIE IESIGN
Villi. (KEVII) .11.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Worcester, Massachusetts
VlIXIII. (SIIPlEIS) ll.
Belling Insmute of Machinery Industry
Belling, China
n MARCEL DEKKER, iNC.
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10 9 8 7 6 S 4 3 2 I
PIUNTIID IN 11IE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Preface
Fixtures are imponant in both traditional manufacturing and modem flexible
manufHCturing systems (FMS). which directly affect manufacturing quality,
productivity. and cost of products. The time spent on designing and fabri
eating fixtures significantly contributes 10 the production cycle in improving
current products and developing Dew ones. Therefore. much attention has
been paid 10 me study of fixturing in manufacturing.
In machining processe,<;, geometric accuracy of a manufactured part de-
pends mainly on the relative position of the workpiece to the cutting tool,
Fixrures are needed 10 locate the workpiece relative to the machine 1001 in
order to ensure rrwnufacturing quality. It is clear that the primary require-
ments for a fixture are 10 locale and secure the workpiece in a given position
and orientation on a worktable of the machine tool. In addition lO the pri-
mary requirements in fixture design, many other demands must also be met.
including ensuring productivity (e.g .. easy load and unload of the workpiece.
utilization of automated or semi automated clamping device.o;;. and ea .. y chip
disposaJ). special design for reducing the defonnation of weak-rigidity work-
pieces, simple and safe operation (e.g .. the use of antimist:.:.ke function com-
ponents for costly workpieces). and effective cost rtduction (e.g . consid-
ering fixture material nnd fabrication processes and using standard elements
with priority). Hence the tixrure design is a complicated process. Application
of these fundamental principles to an individual fixture dC!lign depends
mainly on the designer's experience in manual fixture design.
Aexible fixturing becomes OI..'Ccssary in FMS and computer-ime,g:rated
manufacturing systems (CIMS). In FMS or CIMS. machine tools (and other
equipment) are flexible for fabrication, assembly, and treatment. They are
P",/au
conuolled by computers and linked by a materia) handling system to move
parts from one workstation to another. The fixtures employed in FMS must
be adaptable in oruer to accommodate the wide variety of pans. thus achiev
ing true flexibility. On the other hand. CIMS includes a local integration of
computerwaided design (CAD), computer-aided process planning (CAPP).
computer-aided tooling (CAT). and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM).
The areas of CAD. CAPP. and CAM have been studied for years and much
progress has been made.
Two a .. pect .. are involved in tooling: (1) cUlling tool design and selection
and (2) fixture design and fabrication. The cutting tools have been highly
standardized and computer selection is relatively ea. ... y. The absence of a
viable flexible fixturing methodology in the marketplace is impeding the
ability of FMS and elMS to optimally minimize manufacturing costs, in-
crea1iC productivity. and ensure product quality.
Flexible fix luring involves employing a single device to hold parts of
different shapes and sizes. Currently. the moSI commonly used flexible fix-
tures are modular fixtures. The ftexibiHty of modular thnures is derived from
a large number of fixture configurations.: based on different combinations of
fixture elements. There are three major difficulties in applying the modular
fixtures to manufacturing systems: the complexity in design and assembly.
the absence of methodologies for evaluating perfonnances of assembled
modular fixtures. and the complexity of managing and integrating fixlure
componenLIi and designs into an FMS or CIMS. The computer-aided fix-
ture design (CAFD) technique ha.o; been developed toward solving these
problems.
The aim of this book is to provide fundamental knowledge of CAFD
techniques. The content of the book is uniquely designed for a thorough
understanding of CAFD from the basic fixture-design principle. a simple
application of computers to edit and modify a fixture design based on a
filtture component a group--technology (GT)-based fixture-design
retrieval system, automated generation of fixture configurations. and ad-
vanced analysis and verification of fixture designs. This book can be used
as a textbook for engineering graduate in class study or ao; an en-
gineering reference book for manufacturing engineers in workshop practice.
We have worked on CAFD for many years. This book provides an
overall picture and the scientific basis of CAFD, including a summary of
our work a .. well a .. contributions 10 the field by others. Background infor-
mation about fixtures and flexible fixtures in production is given in Chapler
I. Principles of fixture design and modular fixtures are introduced in Chap-
teTS 2 and 3. In Chapters 4. 5. and 6, three generations of CAFD systems
are presented. Although computer-aided fiuure drawing and editing systems
may nOl be academically advanced and aulomated fixture design system ..
Pn!/ace
may not be ripe for industrial application. they are simultaneously under
study and applied in industry. Applications of expert system techniques in
fixlure design is shown in Chapter 7. In Chapters 8- 12. advanced research
topics on fixturing analysis for C AFD. which form its scientific basis. are
summarized. Finally. the trend of future development of CAFD techniques
is discussed in Chapter 13.
CAm is one of the mosl rapidly developing techniques in manufactur-
ing. We hope that this book will serve as a reference to provide compre-
hensive infonnation and long-term practical k.nowledge about developing
and applying CAFD in industry.
The related research work presented in this book has been funded by
the National Sciem:e Foundation (NSF). the Air Force Office of Scientific
Research (AFOSR) , the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and
manufacturing companies including Ingersoll Milling Machine Company.
Pr-Ill & Whitney. CaterpiIJar. GeneraJ Molors (GM). l.md Bluco Modular
Future Company. We would like 10 acknowledge many of our former re-
search s s o c i t ~ s and grdduate assistant'> in (he lixluring research group. who
contributed to the work presented in this book. The helpful suggestions
offered by the. reviewers and editors are also much appreciaced.
Yiming (Kel'in) Rong
Yao:riclIlg (Stephell..v) Z)",
Copyrighted Material
Contents
Pn'face iii
1 Introduction I
1.1 Fixtures 1
1.2 Aexible Fixturing 4
1.3 Fixtures for CNC Machining 7
1.4 Computer-Aided Fixture Design 9
1.5 Summary II
References 11
2 Flxlure-Des!gn Principle 14
2.1 a ~ i c Requirements of Fixluring Systems 14
2.2 Locating Principle and Locating Errors 16
2.3 Clamping Principle and Clanlping-Force CalcUlation 34
2.4 Fixture-Design Processes 47
References 48
3 Modular-Fixture Systems 49
3.1 Development of Modular Fixtures 49
3.2 T-Slot-Based Modular-Fixture Systems 53
3.3 Dowel-Pin-Based Modular-Fixture Systems 63
3.4 Cost Analysis of ModUlar-Fixture Applications 75
3.5 Fixluring Management with Modular-Fixture Application 79
References 84
vii
Copyrighted Material
COPYrighted MaterIal
\';;; Contt'nlS
4 Interactive Computer.Aided Fixture Design 8S
4.1 Overall Structure of the ICAI'D System 86
4.2 Locating/Clamping Model Analysis and Classification 89
4.3 Fixture Component Selection 91<
4.4 Work piece Information Retrieval 98
45 Fixture Component Assembly Manipulation 105
4.6 Implementation Example of the I-CAFD System 114
References 125
5 Group TechnologyBased Computer.Aided Fixture Design 126
5.1 Introduction 126
5.2 Fixture-Design Process Analysis 128
S.3 Fixture Structure Analysis 133
5.4 FixlUring Feature Analysis 134
5.5 Representation of Fixturing Feature Information 142
5.6 Fixture-Design Similarity Analysis 147
5.7 Implementation 148
5.B Case Study 154
References 162
6 Automated Fixture Configuration Design 164
b.1 Introduction 164
b.2 Analysis of Modular Fixture Structures 167
6.3 Establishment of MFEARDB 178
6.4 Automated Fixture Configuration Design 193
6.S Fixture Configuration Design Examples and Summary 2()4
References 208
7 Constraint.Based Fixture As.'lembly Modellng and Design 211
7.1 Related Research 213
7.2 Constraint-Based Assembly Modeling 215
7.3 Constraint-Based Modular-Fixture Design 229
7.4 Implementation of ConstraintBaS<.-d Fixture Design 236
References 244
8 Geometric Analysis for Automated ModularFlxture Design 246
~ I Introduction 246
8.2 Geometric Constraint Conditions 2S I
8.3 Assembly Analysis 257
8.4 3-D Fixture Configurations 268
8.5 Locating Accuracy Analysis 274
Copyrighted Matertal
Copyrighted Material
o n t ~ n t l
8.6 Clamp Planning
8.7 Discussion on Fixturing Accessibility
8.8 Examples and Summary
Rcferences
9 Flxturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
9. I Introduct ion
9.2 Machining Accuracy Analysis
9.3 Locating Error Analysis
9.4 Locating Accuracy Verification of Fixture Design
9.5 Summary
References
10 Fixluring Surface Accessibility Analysis
10.1 Introduction
10.2 Basic Requirements on Fixturing Surfaces
10.3 Accessibility Analysis
10.4 Implementation and Examples
10.5 Conclusion
References
ix
279
286
289
289
292
292
293
315
335
335
.137
341
341
343
345
357
362
362
11 Jo1xluring Stiffness and Clamping Stability Verification 364
11.1 Fixturing Stiffness 365
I 1.2 FixlUring Stiffness of T-SIOI-Ba,ed fi<lures 367
11.3 Fixturing Stiffness of Dowel-Pin-Ba<ed Fixtures 379
11.4 Clamping Stability Verification 385
References 399
12 .'asl Interference-Checking Algorithm for Automaled
.lxlure-Deslgn Verification 401
12.1 Introduction 40 I
12.2 Interference Checking Between Fixture Components
and Tool Path 405
12.3 Interference Checking Between Fixture Components 426
12.4 Algorithm Improvement Discussion 429
12.5 Implementation 431
References 437
Copyrighted Material
Copyrighted Moterlal
.r
13 Fixture Planning and Setup Planning In CAD/CAM
Integration
13.1 Introduction
13.2 Manufacturing Features
13.3 Fixlure Planning
13.4 Setup Planning
References
Index
COli/en,.
439
439
441
448
463
475
477
1
Introduction
Fixtures are important in both traditional manufacturing and modern flexible
manufacturing systems (FMS), which directly affect machining quality, pro-
ductivity, and cost of products. The time spent on designing and fabricating
fixtures significantly contributes to the production cycle in improving current
products and developing new products. Therefore, great attention has been
paid to the study of fixturing in manufacturing (Thompson and Gandhi,
1986).
1.1 FIXTURES
Fixtures were developed for job, batch, and mass productions, which are
widely used in manufacturing operations to locate and hold a part firmly in
position so that the required manufacturing processes can be carried out
according to design specifications (Hoffman, 1991). In machining processes,
geometric accuracy of a manufactured part mainly depends on the relative
position of workpiece to the machining tool (Rong et aI., 1988). Fixtures
are needed to locate the workpiece relative to the machining tool in order
to ensure the manufacturing quality. It is clear that the primary requirements
for a fixture are to locate and secure the workpiece in a given position and
orientation on a worktable of the machine tool. In order to locate a work-
piece, locators and supports are usually used in contact with the locating
surfaces of the workpiece to restrict it to six degrees of freedom, including
linear and rotational motions. To secure the workpiece on a fixture, clamps
are often utilized to keep a stable location against the machining force. The
2 Chapter I
locating surfaces may be plane, concentric internal, or external profile sur-
faces of the workpiece. Locating methods in fixture design include utiliza-
tions of three-planes (3-2-1 method), one plane and two holes, two planes
and one hole, and long and short V-blocks (Rong et aI., (993). Clamping
methods can be classified into top and side clamping. which may provide
normal and friction forces. To satisfy the primary fixturing requirements, in
addition to the manufacturing accuracy, the fixture should be rigid enough
to resist the harmful deformation and vibration during machining. Clamping
methods and clamping positions should be carefully selected to firmly hold
the workpiece.
In addition to the primary requirements in fixture design, many other
demands also need to be met, such as ensuring productivity (e.g., easy load
and unload of the workpiece, utilization of automated or semiautomated
clamping devices, easy chip disposal), special design for reducing the de-
formation of weak-rigidity parts, simple and safe operation (e.g., the use of
antimistake function components for costly parts), and effective cost reduc-
tion (considering fixture material and fabrication processes and using stan-
dard elements with priority). Hence, the fixture design is a complicated pro-
cess. The application of these fundamental principles to an individual fixture
design depends on primarily the designer's experience in manual fixture
design. Collection and representation of the knowledge from the designer's
experience is a crucial part in the development of computer-aided fixture
design (CAFD) systems.
Fixturing methodologies are usually determined by the size of the lots
(Zhu and Zhang, (990). In mass production, highly efficient fixturing is
emphasized because it may increase the productivity on a large scale and
result in a great economic benefit. Even if the fixture is expensive and takes
a long time to design and fabricate, the average cost and time of one work-
piece are still at a low level. In this case, efficiency is more important than
flexibility in fixturing. Therefore, dedicated fixtures are usually applied when
the fixture construction is perfectly designed for a specific operation, for
example, the usage of quick loading-unloading and automated clamping de-
vices to reduce nonmachining time. As part of the manufacturing tooling,
the application of dedicated fixtures has greatly contributed to the devel-
opment of automated manufacturing systems, especially in the automobile
industry. Due to the nature of mass production, distributed operations are
designed and implemented when manufacturing processes are divided into
simple operations conducted in different workstations connected by flow-
line material-handling systems. Dedicated fixtures are specially designed for
each specific operation, with special consideration of fixture structure, aux-
iliary supports, and other operational properties. Therefore, the operations
can be conducted quickly and the tolerance requirements can be easily as-
Introductioll 3
sured in the operation. The problems involved in dedicated fixture applica-
tion include the flexibility and long lead time required to design and fabricate
the fixtures. When product design changes (i.e., the shape and size changes).
the dedicated fixtures are usually no longer useful and scrapped. Dedicated
fixtures are one-time fixtures. In today's automobile industry, fixturing flex-
ibility is desired to a certain extent in order to adapt to the design variations
of the products.
The situations are different in small-sized lots and one-piece-type pro-
duction. As there is a variety of parts with different geometry and machining
requirements involved in production, the fixturing flexibility becomes more
important in this type of production. The cost and lead time of fixture design
and fabrication cannot be ignored because they take up a higher percentage
in the overall production. Fixtures should be available in a short time and
relatively economic while the primary requirements of fixture are more fo-
cused upon; the demand for auxiliary functions may be relaxed. Dedicated
fixtures are not economically feasible and general-purpose fixtures, which
are standard and reusable fixture components such as vises, chucks. and
straps, may be applied. In many cases, special fixture components are re-
quired for complex fixturing tasks. The design and fabrication of the special
components may take significant time and cost. In the cases when the use
of special components can be avoided, significant time and effort may be
required to measure and adjust the part position in the fixture for alignment
with the machining tool. Therefore, in order to enhance the capability of
fixturing parts with a different geometry, other flexible fixturing methods
may be applied.
With the development of computer-aided designlcomputer-aided man-
ufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology, especially more and more computer nu-
merical control (CNC) machine tools and machining centers being used in
the manufacturing industry, the trend of products is toward wide variety and
small lot size. Because the product production cycle becomes shorter and
shorter, manufacturers are increasingly becoming aware of the need for FMS
to remain competitive and increase profitability by reducing its delivery
times without increasing stock. In recent years, FMS, which consists of one
or more CNC machines and/or machining centers, has been quickly devel-
oped. As far as CNC machine tools are employed, usually only the NC
program needs to be changed when the product design is changed. NC pro-
gramming may take days even hours using a computer-aided NC program
system. The machining tools have been highly standardized and can be pur-
chased in the marketplace. Without using flexible fixtures or existing
fixtures, the overall FMS could not realize real flexibility. Flexible fixturing
that adapt to the variation of product designs in FMS and computer-
integrated manufacturing systems (CIMS) are needed. A number of different
4 Chapter I
methods have been proposed for flexible fixturing and some typical methods
are reviewed in the following section.
1.2 FLEXIBLE FIXTURING
Table I is a summary of currently available flexible fixturing methodologies.
There are several types of flexible fixtures which have been studied for
years; the adjustable and modular fixtures are widely used currently in
mdustry.
1.2.1 Flexible Fixturing with Phase-Change Materials
This method of flexible fixturing utilizes the physical property of certain
materials which change the status from liquid to solid and back to liquid.
This phase change must be easy to control and have no harmful effect on
the workpiece. Typically, a fixture of this kind consists of a container filled
with one of these special materials. When the material is in the liquid status
Table 1 Current Flexible Fixturing Methodologies
Category
Modular fixture
Adjustable fixtures
Programmable
clamps
Fixtures with phase-
change materials
Bionics grasp
fixtures
Flexible fixtures
with other
concepts
Source of flexibility
Mechanical
assemblies of
standard
components
With exchangeable
components and
adjustable
positions
Servo-controlled
mechanism
Physical property of
materials
Memory metal
Other
Subcategories
T-slot based fixtures
Dowel-pin-based fixtures
Universal adjustable fixture
Specialized adjustable fixture
Double revolver
Translation movement
Comfortable clamps
Computer vise
Authentic phase-change fixtures
Pseudo-phase-change fixtures
Adaptable fixtures
Universal grippers
Autonomous fixtures
Reconfigurable assembly
fixtures
Introduction
5
(fluid phase), the part is immersed in the liquid. Then, by altering certain
conditions, the liquid is changed to solid, which holds the workpiece fixed.
Then, the workpiece is subjected to the desired operation. After the opera-
tion, the workpiece can be removed from the fixture by changing the material
back into liquid (Hazen and Wright, 1990).
In contrast to mechanical fixturing, in which the clamping forces are
applied only on very small areas (even points), fixturing with phase-change
materials has the ultimate conformity. It is suited for parts with complex
curved surfaces which need to be held during operation and parts which are
weak in rigidity and could deform. These fixtures can be classified into two
broad groups: (1) fixtures incorporating material which undergo an authentic
phase change and (2) fixtures incorporating materials which undergo a
pseudo-phase-change (Gandhi and Thompson, 1985). In authentic phase
change, temperature is used early to control the change. One application is
using low-melting-point alloys to fixture the blades of airplane engine in
order to machine the connecting part. First, the body of the blade is placed
in a special die so that it is located. The liquid of the low-melting-point
alloy is poured into the die. After cooling down, the alloy changes into solid
and encapsulates the blade body so that it can be machined. The disadvan-
tage of temperature-induced phase-change fixturing is the effect of temper-
ature. Because the wall thicknesses of the parts may be different, as well as
other factors, the speeds of the phase change vary. It results in deformation.
Some materials are susceptible penetration. Because low-melting-point al-
loys are used as flexible fixtures in a limited extent, another kind of material
is used as the temperature-induced phase-change fixture, such as polymers.
Although they are improved in nature, the temperature effect is little
changed. New electrically induced phase-change materials have been pro-
posed for flexible fixturing (Thompson and Ghandi, 1986). In these electri-
cally active polymeric materials, a phase change can be induced by an elec-
trical field. The effect of temperature can be eliminated. Further research of
electrically induced phase change needs to be conducted.
Fixtures with pseudo-phase-change materials have been studied. This
class of fixtures utilizes the two-phase nature of a particulate fluidized bed.
A container (fluid bed) filled with particles incorporates a porous floor
through which a stream of air passes at a carefully controlled rate. When
the air supply is activated, the particulate bed acts as a fluid, permitting the
part to be introduced into the bed with minimal resistance. When the air
supply is switched off, the particles compact under gravitational loading to
form a solid mass, which holds the workpiece in place. The workpiece is
then subjected to the desired sequence of operation. After the operation, the
workpiece is unloaded by reactivating the air supply (Lange et aI., 1989).
Although the phase of the material is not changed in these processes, the
6 Chapter I
fixturing principle is very similar to the phase-change fixturing. The mag-
nitude of the force, which is exerted on the part, primarily depends on the
immersing depth of the part in the phase-change fixturing. A method of
locating the part needs to be studied.
1.2.2 Programmable Fixtures
A numerically controlled clamping device connected to a machine tool was
developed for use in an FMS (Tuffentsammer, 1981). It consists of double
revolvers serving as locators, supporters, and clamps, which are driven by
servo systems. The NC program contains instructions for selecting the re-
volvers and setting them up to position the workpiece so that the configu-
ration of the fixture can be constructed by executing the NC program. Once
the workpiece is positioned, the clamps, operated by cylinders, hold it for
machining. This machine is adaptable for box-type parts in a range of certain
dimensions. Because of the hardware restriction of the clamping device, only
one face of the workpiece can be machined per setup. The cost to set up
the machine can be rather expensive.
Several other programmable clamping fixtures were reported, such as
conformable clamping devices for turbine-blade machining (Cutkosky et aI.,
1982). Although these fixtures are flexible in a certain extent, they are only
suitable for special categories of parts.
1.2.3 Adjustable Fixture
Adjustable fixtures include universal adjustable fixtures and specialized ad-
justable fixtures (Zhu and Zhang, 1990). The former utilize universal ad-
justable devices connected to the machine table of the machine tools to
accomplish a certain flexibility. The latter are based on group technology
(OT) (Jiang et aI., 1988). OT is utilized in identifying similar part families
with fixturing information. Parts in the same group or family have similarity
in structure, shape, and other features. Therefore, the basic structure of their
fixtures is the same for the parts in a certain range of dimensions. The parts
in the same group could be machined with the same fixture by changing or
adjusting one or more elements, usually supporters, locators, or clamps. Ad-
justable fixtures are different from dedicated fixtures, which are only used
in one operation for one kind of parts. Adjustable fixtures are specially
designed and fabricated for a specific family of parts. Application of ad-
justable fixtures may achieve great economic benefit by reducing the number
of fixtures. Currently, there is no adjustable fixture systems commercially
available in the United States. The technical problems involved in applying
adjustable fixtures in industry include part classification with fixturing fea-
Introduction 7
tures, fixture similarity analysis, considerations of machine tool structure,
and development of computer-aided adjustable fixture design systems.
1.2.4 Modular Fixture
Modular fixtures have been used in the manufacturing industry for decades;
they were originally developed for job or small-batch production to reduce
the fixturing cost, production for which the dedicated fixture was not eco-
nomically feasible. A modular fixture is assembled following the combina-
tion principle by selecting the exiting standard elements, which greatly ex-
pands the fixturing functions from using general-purpose fixture components.
The flexibility is derived from the large number of fixture configurations
from different combinations of the fixture elements which may be bolted to
a baseplate (Thompson and Gandhi, 1986). Modular fixture components can
be disassembled after a batch of parts are produced, and then reused for new
parts. The use of modular fixtures decreases the tooling cost and storage
floor and shortens the lead time. Usually, the design and assembly of mod-
ular fixtures cannot be separated in a manual mode. The design of a modular
fixture is in the assemblyman's mind instead of the blueprint and is modified
whenever it needs. It is obvious that the designer must understand the re-
quirements of the part and learn about the information related to the oper-
ation. It is very often that a real part is provided to assist the fixture design
and make the assembly easy. The assembly work is complicated and requires
an assemblyman skillful in technology.
There are two types of modular fixtures; T-slot-based and dowel-pin-
based modular fixtures. Details about modular fixtures will be presented in
Chapter 3.
1.3 FIXTURES FOR CNC MACHINING
With the development of CNC machine tools and machining centers,
machining automation and flexibility are promoted simultaneously. All CNC
machine tools involve the capacity for precise motion control for multiple
operations. For example, a machining center with three or more axes control
can be used to drill, bore, and mill a workpiece in given positions. The
machining depths or distances can also be controlled. Curves and curvature
surfaces can be machined by the means of a polyline approaching the curve
or curvature. The machining centers with additional rotating tables can re-
alize a liberal spatial angle between the cutting tool and part. Machining
centers are usually equipped with a magazine of cutting tools. A gripper can
8 Chapter I
be used to change the tools from the magazine to spindle automatically
according to the program. With the help of the rotating table, several surfaces
in different directions can be machined in one setup. The accuracy of a
machining center is much higher than of the traditional machine tool, as it
is usually equipped with excellent servo and feed systems. In addition, the
rigidity of the machining center is greatly improved.
The above-mentioned features of CNC machines influence on the fixture
design directly. The fixturing requirements and functions have changed sig-
nificantly. Some traditional fixturing functions such as guiding, angular grad-
uation, and so forth, can be performed using NC motion controls. Because
multiple operations can be completed in one setup, the requirements of
dimension tolerances and position errors between different machining seg-
ments can be guaranteed by the machine instead of fixture. The fixture struc-
ture becomes simple. Therefore, the fixture elements and fixture configura-
tions are much simplified, offering the possibility of automated fixture
designs.
On the other hand, the requirement of single setup for multiple opera-
tions is pursued because many operations (even rough and finish machining)
can be performed with a single machining center. The locating, supporting,
and clamping surfaces should be carefully selected, and the fixture config-
uration has to be well designed to avoid possible interference with the NC
path. In the case of multiple operations with a single setup, it is not always
easy to select suitable clamping surfaces, as they must be qualified to secure
the position of the workpiece and should not be machined in this setup. The
fixturing accuracy and fixturing stiffness are required to a higher level com-
pared with the traditional fixturing task, because in the same setup, greater
machining force may be involved in rough machining and a higher accuracy
needs to be ensured in finish machining. The fixture configuration design is
restricted by space availability for placing fixture elements and needs to be
verified for a satisfactory fixturing stiffness.
To adapt the new fixturing requirement with the development of CNC
machining technique, dowel-pin modular fixture systems have been rapidly
developed which are simple, with high stiffness, and inexpensive in
fabrication compared with other flexible fixturing systems. One trend of
fixture structure improvement is the development of composite fixturing
units which combine functions (e.g., locating and clamping functions) into
a single unit. It makes the fixture structure more compact and simplifies
the assembly operation. Another trend is the combination of modular fix-
turing and some special elements (e.g., fast-clamping elements). Utilization
of automated clamping devices to reduce loading/unloading time could bring
economic advantage for productions with a certain lot size.
Introduction 9
1.4 COMPUTER-AIDED FIXTURE DESIGN
In a CAD/CAM system, CAFD can be relative independent, with its own
characteristics, and closely related to others, especially to computer-aided
process planning (CAPP). Fixture design is required to meet the demand in
product design and the manufacturing process, and to provide full and nec-
essary conditions to process planning, even product design. For using mod-
ular fixturing, locating external surfaces is easier to configure than locating
internal surfaces, but sometimes the demanded tolerances cannot be met
unless stricter tolerances are given to the locating, which could lead to an
increase of fixturing cost. It needs to balance whether the tolerance is con-
trolled to simplify the fixture configuration or the fixture configuration is
more complexly designed to relax the tolerance. A similar situation also
occurs between fixture design and NC programming. The final machining
program is completed after the fixture design, but some machining infor-
mation is needed during fixture design to estimate the directions and mag-
nitude of cutting forces to select suitable elements with enough stiffness. It
is necessary to integrate all aspects of CAD/CAM, CAPP, and CAFD into
decision making on the production systems.
Modular fixturing is a promising flexible fixturing methodology in FMS
or CIMS. A key issue in applying modular fixtures is the computer-aided
fixturing technique, which includes CAFD, fixture-design verification, and
fixturing management.
Currently, three types of CAFD methodology have been studied. One
develops knowledge-based expert systems for the selection of locating meth-
ods, fixture elements, and fixture configurations (Pham and de Sam Lazaro,
1990; Markus et aI., 1984). The second approach is automatic fixture design
based on kinematic analysis and a series of design rules (Chou et aI., 1989;
Menassa and De Vries, 1990; Mani and Wilson, 1988). Because of the di-
versity of parts and the complexity of fixture design, these systems can only
deal with simple parts with regular shapes. Although much research work
needs to be undertaken on these systems, they have shown to be promising
for modular fixture designs.
Because a good fixture design is highly dependent on the designer's
experience, the third approach utilizes the successful fixturing knowledge
present in existing fixture designs to generate a new design. GT-based CAFD
systems have been developed for modular fixture design (Gandhi and
Thompson, 1986; Rong and Zhu, 1992). The GT principle is applied to
identify similar fixture designs in a fixture-design database. The most similar
fixture design is provided to retrieve. Graphics functions in a CAD package
are utilized to modify the fixture design for new parts. Although this is not
10 Chapter I
an automated fixture-design method, it makes use of expert knowledge in
existing fixture designs, which is especially valuable for complex fixture
designs and more practical for industrial application.
According to an analysis of fixture structures, a fixture can be decom-
posed into three levels [i.e., the functional units, fixture components, and
functional surfaces (Bai and Rong, 1995)]. Once a fixture structure is ana-
lyzed, the fixture design can be described as a search for a match between
the fixture structure and fixturing features of the workpiece. The fixturing
features of a workpiece have been recognized as locatable/clamping surfaces
with surface features (Rong et aI., 1993). A functional-unit-based fixture-
design synthesis method has been developed to generate the fixture config-
uration automatically (Rong and Bai, 1997). After the locating and clamping
methods are decided upon as well as the contact positions of locators and
clamps with the workpiece, suitable functional units are selected (or gen-
erated) and set up (placed) onto a baseplate without interference between
functional units, and the workpiece and machining envelope.
Once a fixture design is conducted using CAFD, its performance should
be evaluated to ensure the quality of the fixture design. Fixture-design qual-
ity may include the locating accuracy, fixturing stability, and fixturing stiff-
ness, and that the tool path is interference-free.
Machining errors are analyzed for fixture verification based on their
sources when CNC machine tools and machining centers are utilized. The
dependence of machining errors and operations are considered in a toler-
ance-chain analysis for estimating the machining errors under a certain fix-
ture design (Rong and Bai, 1996). Fixturing stability includes clamping and
machining stabilities. The clamping stability can be automatically evaluated
after the fixture design to verify the positions and orientations of locators
and clamps (Rong et aI., 1994). The machining stability involves the deter-
mination of clamping-force amplitudes. Because there are many slots or
holes in the body of modular fixture elements, the stiffness of a modular
fixture may be quite weak. The fixturing-component deformation under ma-
chining and other forces may contribute to the fixturing accuracy and sta-
bility. Because the theoretical calculation cannot evaluate the deformation
precisely even if the finite-element method (FEM) is applied, experiments
on fixturing stiffness of typical fixture structures are necessary to establish
a stiffness database of modular fixture components and structures (Zhu et
aI., 1993). Because the machining forces are not constant, research on dy-
namic stability and dynamic stiffness is suggested to make CAFD a fully
applicable system.
There are two methods to verify the possible interference between the
fixture and cutting tools: graphic and calculation. Many computer-aided NC
programming systems provide a visual-based graphic verification function
Introduction 11
to check if there is an interference between the tool and workpiece. Once a
fixture is designed, the interference between fixture elements and the work-
piece or tool path should be also verified. The graphic verification is visual
based and easy to implement, but it depends on human operation and is not
adequate to determine the exact interference position and quantity. Through
a calculation-based verification, the interference can be found automatically,
but it may take longer. When the fixture configuration is automatically gen-
erated, an algorithm for interference checking should be included in the
CAFD.
The fixturing information system has become a sub-information-system
in CIMS. In order to manage the fixture components and fixture designs
with inventory information and scheduling requirements, a computer-aided
fixturing management system is necessary for successful application of mod-
ular fixtures (Rong and Zhu, 1994).
1.5 SUMMARY
Fixturing as part of tooling is an important component of manufacturing,
which contributes to production quality, production cost, and manufacturing
lead time significantly. In recent years, more and more attention has been
paid to the research of flexible fixturing to enhance the competitive capa-
bility of manufacturing systems. As modular fixtures are practical flexible
fixtures and widely used industry, much research effort has been devoted
into computer-aided modular-fixture design (CAMFD) to reduce the fixture
design time, verify fixture-design quality, and integrate fixture design with
CAD/CAM. In the following chapters, the research work of CAMFD by the
authors and their research group is introduced. Emphasis has been placed
on discussions of technical problems including the fixture-design principle,
fixture-design generation, fixture-design performance analysis, and integra-
tion with CAD/CAM.
REFERENCES
Bai, Y., and Y. Rong (1995), "Establishment of Modular Fixture Element Assembly
Relationship for Automated Fixture Design," in ASME IMECE 1995, San
Francisco, CA, MED-Vol. 2-1, pp. 805 - 816.
Chou, Y. c., V. Chandru, and M. M. Barash (1989), A Mathematical Approach to
Automatic Design of Fixtures, Journal of Engineering for Industry, Vo1. 111,
pp. 299-306.
Cutkosky, M. R., E. Kurokawa, and P. K. Wright (1982), Programmable Com-
formable Clamps, AUTOFACT, Vol. 4, pp. 1151-1158.
12 Chapter I
Gandhi, M. V., and B. S. Thompson (1985), Phase-change Fixturing for Flexible
Manufacturing System, Journal of Manufacturing Systems, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp.
29-38.
Gandhi, M. v., and B. S. Thompson (1986), Automated Design of Modular Fixtures
for Flexible Manufacturing Systems, Journal of Manufacturing S.vstems, Vol.
5, No. 4, pp. 243-252.
Hazen, F. B., and P. K. Wright (1990), Workholding Automations in Analysis, De-
sign, and Planning, Manufacturing Review, Vol. 43, No. 4, pp. 224-237.
Hoffman, E. G. (1991). Jig and Fixture Design, 3rd Ed., Delmar, New York.
Jiang, W., Z. Wang, and Y. Cai (1988), Computer-aided Group Fixture Design, An-
nals of the CIRP, Vo!. 37, pp. 145-148.
Lange, N., M. V. Gandhi, B. S. Thompson, and D. J. Desal (1989), An Experimental
Evaluation of the Capability of a Fluidized-bed Fixture System, International
Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Vo!. 4, No. 4, pp. 192-206.
Mani, M., and W. R. D. Wilson (1988), Automated Design of Workholding Fixtures
Using Kinematic Constraint Synthesis, in 16th NAMRC, pp. 437 -444.
Markus, A., Z. Markus, J. Farkus, and J. Filemon (1984), Fixture Design Using
PROLOG: an Expert System, Robotics and Computer-integrated Manufactur-
ing, Vol. I, No. 2, pp. 162-172.
Menassa, R. J., and W. R. DeVries (1990), A Design Synthesis and Optimization
Method for Fixtures with Compliant Elements, AS ME WAM, PED Vol. 47,
pp. 203-218.
Pham, D. T., and A. de Sam Lazaro (1990), AUTOFIX-an Expert CAD System
for Jig and Fixtures, International Journal of Machine Tools & Manufacture,
Vo!. 30, No. 3, pp. 403-411.
Rong, Y., and Y. Bai (1996), Machining Accuracy Analysis for Computer-aided
Fixture Design, Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Vol. 118.
pp. 289-300; partially presented at ASME IMECE, 1993, PED Vo!. 64, pp.
507-512.
Rong, Y., and Y. Bai (1997), Automated Generation of Modular Fixture Configura-
tion Design, Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering, Vo!. 119, pp.
208-219; partially presented at ASME Design Automation Conference, Bos-
ton, pp. 681-688.
Rong, Y., and Y. Zhu (1992), Application of Group Technology in Computer-aided
Fixture Design, International Journal of Systems Automation: Research & Ap-
plication, Vo!. 2, No. 4, pp. 395 -405.
Rong, y', and Y. Zhu (1994), Computer-aided Modular Fixture Design and Man-
agement in Computer-integrated Manufacturing Systems, in Japan- USA S.rm-
posium Oil Flexible Automation, Kobe, Japan, pp. 529-534.
Rong, y', J. Ni, and S. M. Wu (1988), An Improved Modle Structure for Forecasting
Compensary Control of Machine Tool Errors, Sensors and Control for Mall-
ufacturing, ASME PED Vo!. 33, pp. 175-181.
Rong, Y., S. Wu, and T. Chu (1994), Automatic Verification of Clamping Stability
in Computer-aided Fixture Design, in ASME Computer in Engineering, Min-
neapolis, pp. 421 -426.
Introduction 13
Rong, Y, J. Zhu, and S. Li (1993), Fixturing Feature Analysis for Computer-aided
Fixture Design, ASME IMECE 1993, PED Vo\. 64, pp. 267-271.
Thompson, B. S., and M. V. Gandhi (1986), Commentary on Flexible Fixturing,
Applied Mechanics Review, Vol. 39, No. 9, pp. 1365-1369.
Tuffentsammer, K. (1981), Automatic Loading of Machining System and Automatic
Clamping Workpieces, in Annals of the CIRP, Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 553-558.
Zhu, Y, and S. Zhang (1990), Modular Fixturing Systems: Theory and Application,
Machinery Press, Beijing.
Zhu, Y, S. Zhang, and Y Rang (1993), Experimental Study on Fixturing Stiffness
of T-slot based Modular Fixtures, in 21st NAMRC, pp. 231-235.
2
Fixture-Design Principle
A fixture is a device used in machining, inspection, assembly, welding, and
other manufacturing operations to locate and hold a workpiece firmly in
position so that the required manufacturing processes can be carried out
corresponding to design specifications (Nee and Senthil Kumar, 1991). As
part of manufacturing tooling, fixture design and related activities make
significant contributions to the production time and cost in daily production.
In this chapter, basic fixture-design requirements are first discussed, the lo-
cating principle and locating error analysis are presented in detail, and
clamping devices and clamping-force estimation are introduced. These prin-
ciples and discussions are valid for general fixture designs and are not lim-
ited to modular-fixture applications. Advanced, computerized fixture design
and analysis is not included in this chapter.
2.1 BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF FIXTURING SYSTEMS
Fixtures are one of the operational equipment in manufacturing which are
used to ensure the product quality and operation efficiency. Fixture design
is desired to be rapid or on time, effective, and economic. The discussion
of basic fixture-design requirements can be found in many fixture-design
books (e.g., Hoffman, 1991). The following four aspects are particularly
important in fixture design.
2.1.1 Ensuring Positional Accuracy of Workpieces
The most important task of fixture design is to ensure the positional accuracy
of machining surfaces in each setup, as well as relevant dimensional accu-
Fixture-Design Principle 15
racy. When a fixture is applied to production, the accuracy is ensured by
the following:
1. Correct selection and design of locating and clamping devices and
components so that the spatial relationship of machining surfaces
and locating datum can be properly established
2. Correct selection and design of connection components and devices
for connecting the fixture to the machine table of machine tools so
that the workpiece position and orientation can be ensured relative
to the machine table
3. Design of fixture structure with sufficient fixturing stiffness so that
the positions of fixture components, especially locating components,
do not change significantly under clamping and machining forces.
The dynamic stiffness is also important to avoid severe vibration
during machining operations
4. Design of fixture structure with sufficient strength and wear resis-
tance, especially for reusable fixtures.
2.1.2 Ensuring Operation Convenience and Safety
When fixtures are used with NC machine tools or machining centers. es-
pecially in an FMS or CIMS environment, the convenience and safety in
fixturing and machining operations are very important because of the auto-
mated operation of the machine tools and manufacturing systems. The fol-
lowing guidelines may be applied in fixture design:
I. The fixture should be designed to be convenient for loading and
unloading workpieces. When a workpiece is loaded and/or unloaded
to/from a fixture, any possible interference or collision with fixture
components and cutting tools, as well as the robots used for tool
change and workpiece loading, should be avoided in fixture struc-
ture design. Sufficient space should be designated for clamping and
other operations.
2. The fixture should be designed convenient for machining chip dis-
posal. The accumulation of chips in the machining area can cause
safety and quality problems, especially in automated machining op-
erations with NC machines or machining centers. which needs to
be considered in fixture design.
3. The fixture should be designed convenient for measurement and
adjustment operations. In many cases, the position and orientation
of workpieces need to be measured and adjusted before machining
operations. The datum surfaces of measurement and adjustment
16 Chapter 2
should be open to the operations, and sufficient space should be
designated for the operation.
2.1.3 Ensuring Productivity in Job, Batch, and Mass Productions
The annual demand of production is an important factor in selecting fixture
types and fixture structure. In job production, fixturing flexibility is desired
for a variety of workpieces. In order to ensure the production quality, rapid
production, and low fixturing cost, usually modular fixtures and other gen-
eral-purpose fixtures with standard components are used in production. In
mass production, productivity is more important, fixturing cost is shared by
a large number of the products, and the production preparation period is
allowed to be relatively long. Therefore, it is reasonable to design and fab-
ricate dedicated fixtures. In this case, the fixturing operation time becomes
critical in production cost. Multipart fixturing and power clamping methods
are widely applied in fixture design. For batch production, fixturing strategy
may vary in different applications. Modular fixtures and adjustable fixtures
are often used for a certain flexibility and other fixturing performances.
2.1.4 Ensuring Low Production Cost
Standardization and modularization of fixture structure and fixture designs
play important roles in fixturing cost reduction and rapid production prep-
aration. Fixtures are operation equipment but not the end products. Reuse
of fixture components and units is very beneficial in job and batch produc-
tions. Therefore, it is desired to use standard fixture components and struc-
tures as much as possible in fixture designs. Since the 1950s, much progress
has been made in the fixture component standardization and modularization,
especially the appearance and applications of modular-fixture systems, which
formed the foundation of contemporary computer-aided fixture-design
(CAFD) techniques. However, the standardization and modularization of fix-
ture structures is still in its initial development stage. As for the development
of the CAFD technique, significant progress can be expected in the near
future in this area.
2.2 LOCATING PRINCIPLE AND LOCATING ERRORS
The most important task of fixture design is to locate workpieces with an
acceptable accuracy. Understanding the locating principle and locating errors
is very essential in fixture design.
Fixture-Design Principle
17
2.2.1 Setup and Locating Datum
In order to ensure the relative positions between machining surfaces and
other relevant surfaces, the workpiece needs to be placed at a specific lo-
cation on the machine table. Regardless of the method used to locate the
workpiece (e.g., workpiece directly mounted to the machine table, or the
use of fixtures), the purpose is to ensure the relative positional relationship
between the workpiece and machining tools. Placing the workpiece in a
specific position in a fixture or on machine table is called a setup, which
includes two processes-locating and clamping. Within a setup, one or more
manufactuirng operations may be carried out to process workpiece surfaces
with dimensional, form, positional, and orientational specifications.
Designing a setup ensures that the workpieces in a batch are located in
the same position on the machine table so that positioning repeatability is
reliable in production. The locating process places a set of workpiece sur-
faces, so-called locating-datum surfaces, in contact with fixture locators,
whereas clamping ensures that the contact is reliable and firm in the entire
manufacturing process. If a workpiece is separated from the contact with
locators, locating has failed. Once the positions and orientation of the datum
are determined, other features or surfaces of the workpiece are also deter-
mined relative to the locating datum, to the machine table, and to the ma-
chining tool. Figure 1 a shows a workpiece and Figure 1 b shows the work-
piece located in a fixture.
A workpiece consists of surfaces. There exist dimensional and orienta-
tional relationships among these surfaces based on design specifications. The
datum is the points, lines, and surfaces which can be used to determine the
positions and orientations of other points, lines, and surfaces on a workpiece.
There are two categories of datum (i.e., design datum and manufacturing
datum). The former is used in specifying the workpiece geometry (dimen-
sions, positions, and orientations, especially with tolerances) in terms of
design and functional requirements. The latter is defined to specify geometric
relationships in manufacturing processes of the workpiece, including oper-
ational datum, locating datum, and measuring datum. The two types of da-
tum are hopefully consistent, but sometimes they are different due to the
difficulties in manufacturing, which may lead to additional manufacturing
errors. In this chapter, the locating datum is particularily concerned in fixture
design.
Workpiece processing can be divided into several operations and setups.
Locating datum is used to determine the workpiece position and orientation
relative to a fixture in a specific setup. Actually, the locating datum is the
points, lines, and surfaces which are in contact with fixture locators. In the
aspect of manufacturing accuracy, locating datum should be consistent with
18 Chapter 2
a. 50-0.2
surface I
~ E J
- ~ 0 0 5
A
h.
0
)--
~
I\.
)
secondary locating surface
'\
\ tertiary locating surface
Figure 1 Workpiece located in a fixture.
other datum (design datum, operation datum, and measuring datum) when-
ever possible. In Fig. 1 a, a step surface needs to be produced from a rec-
tangular block in a milling operation. There may be dimensional and par-
allelism requirements for surface I. Surfaces" A," "B," and "C" are the
operation datum. They are selected as the locating datum in fixture design
(primary locating surface, secondary locating surface, and tertiary locating
surface) and in contact with fixture locators in the setup as shown in Fig.
lb.
2.2.2 Six-Point Locating Principle
For a rigid workpiece, there are six degrees of freedom (OOFs) describing
the position and orientation of the workpiece (i.e., linear motions X, Y, and
Z, and rotational motions, a
x
, ay, and a" as shown in Fig. 2). The purpose
Fixture-Desig1l Principle 19
of fixture locating design is to constrain all or part of the six DOFs so that
the workpiece position and orientation can be uniquely determined. Based
on the kinematics principle, six independent points are required to be in
contact with the workpiece for a full constraint (Zhu, 1982). When the six
points are configured in three mutually perpendicular planes, it illustrates
the famous 3-2-1 locating principle shown in Fig. 3, where the three points
in contact with the bottom surface of the workpiece constrain three DOFs
(Z, a
x
, and ay), two points in the left-side constrain two DOFs (Y and a?),
and the point in the back constrains the last DOF (X). Although the config-
uration of the six points may vary in different ways, six points are necessary
to constrain the workpiece DOF completely. Fig. 4 presents an example of
cylindrical workpieces, where the cylindrical surface is in contact with four
locators to constrain four DOFs (Y, Z, ay, and a,), the point in the back
constrains one DOF (X), and the last point constrains the rotation about the
Z axis (az>.
When the locator positions deviate from the theoretical positions, the
position and orientation of the workpiece may vary in the six DOFs (i.e.,
AX, AY, AZ, ax> ay, and aJ. An arbitrary point on the workpiece will change
accordingly. For example, when a reference point on the workpiece surface
x
x
z
x
x
Figure 2 Six degrees of freedom of a workpiece.
20 Chapter 2
z c
y
Figure 3 The six-point locating principle.
changes its positIOn from (x, y, z) to (x', y', z'), the individual motion
components can be calculated as (Zhu et aI., 1987) follows:

Linear motion
(x', y', z', I) ~ (x, y, z, I) [ ~
0 0
~
0
( 1)
0
~ x ~ y ~ z
Figure 4 A variation of the six-point locating principle.
Fixture-Design Principle
.
Rotation about the x axis
0 0
cos 0\ sin 0\
(x', y', z', I) = (x, y, z, I) [ ~
-sin a, cos a,
~ ]
0
.
Rotation about the y axis
[COS a,
(x',y',z', 1)=(x,y,z, 1) .0
sm ay
0
Rotation about the z axis
, , , -sin a,
[
COS ay
(x ,y,z, l)=(x,y,z, 1) ~
0
1
0
0
0
-sin ay
~ ]
0
cos a)
0
sin ay
cos ay
o
o
o 0]
o 0
1 0
o 1
21
(2)
(3)
(4)
If it is assumed that the rotation sequence can be predetermined (say,
x-y-z), the final position of the point becomes
(x',y',z', I)=(x,y,z, I)
cos ay sin a,
sin a
x
sin ay sin a , + cos a, cos a,
cos a, sin ay sin a , - sin a, cos a,
y
where the matrix is the so-called locating matrix.
(5)
It should be mentioned that the expression of the locating matrix may
not be unique because there is more than one way of rotating the workpiece
to a final orientation. When a fixture is designed with complete constraints
of the six DOFs, all the points on the workpiece cannot be moved in any
direction. Therefore, the locating matrix becomes an identity matrix theo-
retically.
Sometimes, it may not be necessary to have a complete constraint in
production. Figure 5 shows an example of a workpiece where a small hole
is to be drilled in a specific setup. The bottom end surface can be used as
a locating datum to constrain three DOFs and a short locating pin is applied
to the inner cylindrical surface to constrain two OOFs. Therefore, it is an
22 Chapter 2
d
'- '-'-'-'-'-r y
X
n : I
L
y
Figure 5 A disk workpiece.
incomplete constraint fixture design with five DOFs constrained because of
the symmetry of the workpiece. The locating matrix becomes
[
o ~ (x,
-Slfl <X,
o
o
sin (x,
cos (X,
o
o
o 0]
o 0
I 0
() I
2.2.3 Workpiece Constraints in Locating
The six-point locating principle can be applied to design and evaluate fix-
tures. When all six OOFs are constrained, it is a complete locating, whereas
when less than six OOF are constrained, as in many cases, it is underlocat-
ing. If the unconstrained OOF does not affect the production accuracy, un-
derlocating is permitted in real production. Figure 5 is an example. In a
fixture structure, if more than one point is used to restrict one DOF repeat-
edly, it is overlocating. Under a certain condition, overlocating is allowed
in production. For example, Fig. 6a shows a workpiece supported by four
locating pins underneath for constraining three OOFs (i.e., Z, a
x
, and a)).
Theoretically, one of the points is redundant. However, if the workpiece
bottom surface is a premachined surface and the workpiece size is relatively
large, this locator configuration is preferred because it provides a stabler
support and reduces the workpiece deformation under clamping and ma-
chining forces. Therefore, the overlocating is applied in this case, especially
in precision machining operations. Figure 6b shows an alternative design for
a four-point bottom locating where a pair of parallel bars are used to support
the workpiece.
Fixture-Design Principle 23
r--"-"-"-"-"-"-"-"-"-,
. i
~
i .'
~ . - .. ~
~
ff---+T
. .
(a)
4r ~
.. _ .. _ .. _ .. _ .. _ .. _ .. _T._.;
(b)
i _ . _ .. _ .. _ .. _ .. __ . __ ._ .. _ .. __ j
Figure 6 Locating with a large planar surface.
Figure 7 shows another example of connecting rod workpieces. In the
design shown in Fig. 7a, three locators are used (i.e., a long pin which
constrains four OOFs (X, Y, <Xx, and <Xy), a flat fixture base restricting three
OOFs (Z, <Xx, and <Xy), and a side pin which constrains one OOF (<X,). There
are two OOFs overconstrained: <Xx, and <X
y
Because there are always man-
ufacturing tolerances in workpiece sizes and fixture component positions,
the contact between the two objects are not stable and reliable. When clamp-
ing forces are applied, workpiece deformation will present, which may make
a significant contribution to the production error. To improve the locating
z
. ~
x
(b)
y
( a)
(c)
Figure 7 Locating analysis of connecting rod processing.
24 Chapter 2
design, either the long pin is changed to a short pin, restricting only two
OOFs (X and Y) as shown in Fig. 7b, or the contact is removed between
the fixture base and workpiece on the right side; therefore, the 0\ and ay
remain unconstrained by the fixture base, as shown in Fig. 7c. In both cases,
the overlocating is eliminated. When manufacturing accuracy requirements
are different in the operation, different locating methods may be applied to
ensure the product quality. For example, in the operation of boring the large
hole in the right side, the locating method in Fig. 7b is suitable for ensuring
the accuracy of perpendicularity between the bottom end surface and the
large hole, whereas the locating configuration in Fig. 7c is good for ensuring
the parallelism between the two hole axes where auxiliary support on the
right side may be necessary for a stiffer support.
2.2.4 Locating Error Source Analysis
There three major locating error components affecting dimensional and or-
ientational accuracy of machining features of workpieces:
1. Locating errors related to the way workpieces are located in a fix-
ture Af.
2. Fixture-mounting errors related to the way a fixture is mounted onto
the machine table Am.
3. Operation errors related to manufacturing operations such as the
machining errors produced due to the deformation of workpiece and
machine tool under machining force and temperature changes, ma-
chining tool wear, and kinematic errors of machine table motion,
Ao.
In order to ensure product quality, the summation of these errors should
be smaller than the design tolerance; that is,
~ f + ~ m + ~ o ; 0 (6)
where 0 is a specific dimensional or orientational tolerance of the workpiece.
It should be noted that in Eq. (6), all terms need to be calculated in the
same direction. If more than one operational dimensions are involved, each
of them needs to be calculated and verified individually.
When a fixture is mounted to a machine table, its position and orien-
tation could vary slightly, which may result in a variation of workpiece
position and orientation, therefore affecting production accuracy. The mount-
ing errors are mainly due to the manufacturing errors of mounting surfaces
of the machine table and fixture base and the connection errors, especially
caused by the clearances between the mounting surfaces.
Fixture-Design Principle 25
The operational errors are related to the machining method, machining
process parameters, and machining tool capacity for generating geometric
accuracy, which may cause position and orientation changes of workpiece
machining surfaces relative to machining tools. The operation processes are
quite complicated and involve dynamic forces, thermal processes, and ma-
chine component wear. The operational errors may not be directly related
to fixture structural design and can be estimated based on empirical refer-
ences such as a machining handbook.
The locating errors are particularly interesting in fixture design. When
a workpiece is placed into a fixture with full constraints, according to the
fixture-design principle there are six contact points (or equivalent) necessary
and used as locating datum between the workpiece locating surfaces and
fixture locators. The locating errors can be broken down into datum variation
errors and inconsistent datum errors (i.e.,
(7)
where is the datum variation error and is the inconsistent datum
error).
In Eq. (7), the first term is related to the manufacturing and assembly
errors of fixture components. The second term is related to the difference in
design datum and locating datum of the workpiece and the manufacturing
errors of the workpiece, which could be zero when the locating datum is
consistent with the design datum. Figure 8 shows an example of locating
error analysis. A hole A is to be machined in a rectangular block. Al and A2
are the dimensions to be ensured. The workpiece length and width with
variations are L + and H + The surfaces C and D are perpendicular
to each other with variation tolerance (i.e., ex = 90 j: When C and
D are selected as primary and secondary locating datum, the dash lines show
L+AL
Al
D
Figure 8 Locating error analysis.
26 Chapter 2
possible variations of the workpiece position and orientation. The position
variation of hole A can be estimated as
=
(8)
= +
where and are the locator position variation errors in the locating
directions and is the inconsistent datum error.
2.2.5 Locating Error Modeling
Locating accuracy is the most important performance to be ensured in fixture
design. As discussed earlier, the major source of locating errors includes the
manufacturing and assembly errors of fixture components, and the inconsis-
tency of design and locating datum. In this section, a general expression of
locating error modeling is presented. Locating error evaluation is conducted
when different locating methods are applied and different types of locating
surface are used in fixture design.
(a) Locating Error Model
Based on the locating matrix expression of the locating principle, the pos-
sible variation of workpiece position and orientation may be in six direc-
tions, X, Y, Z, a
x
ay, and al' When the locating datum varies, it may cause
a deviation of the workpiece position and orientation by Y,
.la), and The locating matrix, Eq. (5), becomes a locating error matrix:
[ I
sin -sin

' , , -sin I sin
(9) (x y z . I) = (x. y, z, I) .
-sin I Sin ay


Because the deviation is relatively small for workpiece dimensions, the
cosine functions are simplified as 1 and square sine function are regarded
as O. For the same reason, the rotation sequence will not affect the result of
workpiece final orientation. The difference between the point with deviation
and the original point becomes
[
0
-sin
I) = (x, y, z, I) . A
Sin /..la)

sin
o
-sin

-sin
sin
o


( 10)
When the variation of the workpiece position and orientation is known,
Fixture-Design Principle 27
U T
Q ~
) l.
(a) (b) (c)
Figure 9 Locators for planar locating surfaces.
Eq. (10) can be used to calculate the variations of machining feature posi-
tions and orientations which are specified by certain reference points.
(b) Planar Surfaces as Locating Datum
Planar surfaces are widely used as locating datum, especially in the primary
locating direction. When the plane is a rough surface as a datum in a very
first operation, locating pins with ball-shaped top surfaces are usually used,
as shown in Fig. 9a. In order to ensure the locating accuracy and supporting
stability, the distance between the locating pins should be as large as possible
so that the area of the triangle formed by three locating pins is large, as
shown in Fig. 10. If the surface area is large and the workpiece rigidity is
relatively weak, auxiliary supporting pins may be used, which are usually
adjustable in height to avoid the problem of overlocating, as shown in Fig.
9b. When the locating surface is a machined surface, locating pads may be
used for a stabler contact between the workpiece and locators, as shown in
Fig. 9c. If the locating surface is a very fine surface, even the whole surface
can be placed in contact with a large planar surface on the fixture body.
Locating with a single plane, the locating error can be evaluated by
considering the surface roughness, which is relatively small compared with
G
~
Figure 10 Locating errors in the primary locating direction.
28 Chapter 2
other error components and usually ignored in the locating error calculation.
If two or more planar surfaces are used in the same direction (step surfaces),
a small difference in height compared with the dimension in other directions
is preferred (i.e., H L is desired). The reason is that a variation of the
locating datum may cause a significant variation in the orientation of the
workpiece. It is assumed that the difference between two locating planes on
the workpiece is H h, the difference between the two locator heights is
H hy, and the distances between the two locating surfaces are LI and L
2
,
as shown in Fig. 11. The workpiece orientation errors can be calculated by
the variation of the angles a
pl
and a
p
2:
h + h
y
tan a = ----
pi LI
h + hy
tan a 0 = ---
p- L2
( I I)
(12)
Because the angles are small in the fixture design, the total variation in the
workpiece orientation can be calculated as
( b )
( a)
H+h
H+hy
(d)
Figure 11 Planar surface locating analysis.
Fixture-Design Principle 29
n, n" + n" tan(n" + n,,) tan et" + tan et" (h + h,) + (13)
(c) External Cylindrical Surfaces as Locating Datum
When an external cylindrical surface on a workpiece is selected as a locating
datum, the possible fixture locating surfaces could be a hole (or half-hole)
surface or a V-block surface, where the latter is widely applied for a stable
support and easy to load/unload the workpiece. If the cylindrical surface is
long, one long or two short V-blocks can be used as the primary locating,
which restricts four OOFs, as shown in Fig. 12a. Sometimes, the V-block is
also used as a secondary locating device for a symmetric workpiece, as
shown in Fig. 12b.
The locating error in V-block locating consists of both the locating da-
tum variation error and the datum inconsistent error. Figure 13 is an example
of a workpiece located with a V-block where a planar surface is to be ma-
chined in milling operation. When the dimensional tolerance is specified in
three different ways, the locating error effect on the machining accuracy is
also different. The following equations can be used to calculate the possible
machining errors due to the locating errors:
( a)
I
. ----==+ +- f- - --

'/W

-.- -_. _. -- -' --_ ... _._ .. -.
L--
7777T
(b)
Figure 12 V-block locating components.
30
(a) (b)
Figure 13 Locating error analysis of V-block locating.
~
8h=----
2 sin(a/2)
<;: ~ [ t + sin(a/2)
uh,=------
2 sin(a/2)
~ [ t - sin(al2)]
8h,=------
- 2 sin(a/2)
Chapter 2
(c)
(14)
(15)
(16)
where LlD is the workpiece diameter variation and a is the V-block angle.
In the case of a = 90, the machining errors become oh = 0.7 LlD, oh)
= 1.2LlD, and oh2 = 0.2LlD.
(d) Internal C.vlindrical Swfaces as Locating Datum
When an inner cylindrical surface is selected as a locating datum, a locating
pin (or mandrel) is usually used with a side as the surface contact, as shown
in Fig. 14. So that the workpiece, which is alway manufactured with geo-
metric tolerances, can be easily loaded/unloaded to the locating position
workpiece
(a) (b)
Figure 14 Pin locating with side surface contacts.
Fixture-Design Principle 31
a
2"
Figure 15 Pin-hole locating error analysis.
(inserted to the hole), there is a clearance between the pin and the hole.
Therefore, the locating error in this case can be calculated as
(17)
where ~ is the clearance between the locating pin and the workpiece locating
hole, d is the variation of the locating pin diameter, and a is the variation
of the workpiece locating hole diameter, as shown in Fig. 15.
It is quite common that two holes on the workpiece are selected as the
locating datum when two locating pins are used. Figure 16 shows an ex-
ample in which the bottom surface of the workpiece is the primary locating
surface which constrains three DOFs and two locating pins are used in con-
tact with two holes on the workpiece for constraining the rest of the OOFs.
In order to load/unload the workpiece to the fixture, clearances are necessary
between the locating pins and holes. Due to the manufacturing errors, the
workpiece sizes and the distance of the two locating pins may vary within
f::.i
~
, ,
Figure 16 Locating with two round pins.
32 Chapter 2
a certain range. Therefore, the following conditions need to be satisfied so
that the workpiece can be placed into the fixture (see Fig. 17):
(18)
(19)
where d
l
and d
2
are the diameters of two locating pins and b
l
and b
2
are
their tolerances, respectively; 0
1
and O
2
are the workpiece hole diameters
and a} and a2 are their tolerances, respectively; d} and d
2
are the clearances
between the locating pins and holes, respectively; and I and c are distance
tolerances of the two holes and two pins, respectively.
Because of the clearances and manufacturing tolerances, the locating
error occurs in the x direction (i.e., fix) and in the z direction (i.e., the angular
fla), which can be calculated as (see Fig. 18)
The locating errors are quite significant. Actually, the first round locating
pin restricts two OOFs, in addition to the three restricted by the bottom
surface locating. The second round locating pin also restricts two OOFs.
Therefore, there is a duplicate locating in x direction. In order to adapt the
overlocating, the second pin should be made small, with a large clearance
to the hole, which leads to significant locating errors. In order to reduce the
locating error, a relieved (diamond) pin can be used to remove the duplicate
Figure 17 Locating error analysis of double-pin locating (I).
Fixture-Design Principle 33
dabl
Dlal
L
~ .
Figure 18 Locating error analysis of double-pin locating (2).
locating in the x direction, as shown in Fig. 19. In this case, the condition
of placing the workpiece into fixture becomes
(22)
(23)
and the angular locating error becomes
(24)
Obviously, oa' < oa. The relieved pin can be made in different shapes.
Figure 20 shows several examples.
e
- . - . - . - ~ . - - ' -'-'-'-'-'-'-'-'
~ ~
, ,
, ,
Ll(Lc)
~ :
(a) (b)
Figure 19 Pin-hole locating with a relieved pin.
34 Chapter 2
(a)
(b)
(c)
Figure 20 Different designs of relieved pins.
Although there are many locating methods which can be found in fixture
designs. the locating error analysis is similar in different cases.
2.3 CLAMPING PRINCIPLE AND
CLAMPINGFORCE CALCULATION
The main purpose of clamping is to securely hold the position of workpieces
against locators throughout the machining cycle (Hoffman. 1991). In this
section. the foundamental background of clamping design is introduced. in-
cluding clamping-design requirements, clamping position and direction se-
lection. required clamping-force estimation, and feasible clamping forces
generated by different clamping devices.
2.3.1 Basic Requirements of the Clamping Design
During the machining processes, there are machining forces, inertial force.
and other forces acting on the workpiece. In order to keep the workpiece in
the locating position with minimum deformation, clamping is necessary in
fixture design. The basic requirements of clamping devices include the fol-
lowing:
I. After clamping, the workpiece should keep in the contact with the
locators so that the location is ensured.
2. The clamping force is sufficient for resisting the machining force
and other forces so that the workpiece will not change its position
and vibration will not appear, but the clamping force should not be
so great that the workpiece surfaces are damaged, especially for the
machined surfaces, or workpiece deformation is significant.
3. The clamping operation should be simple, time saving, safe. and
easy for workpiece loading/unloading, especially no impact to the
workpiece. machine tool components, and cutting tools.
Fixture-Design Principle 35
4. The complexity of the clamping device should be suitable to the
production type and batch size; for example, power clamps are
widely used in mass production and automated production, whereas
modular fixtures are most widely used in job production and small-
batch production.
2.3.2 Selection of Clamping Position and Direction
When designing a clamping device for a fixture, three determinations need
to be made-selections of the clamping direction, clamping position, and
the amplitude of the clamping force.
(a) Selection of Clamping Direction
In order to keep the locating stability and accuracy, the clamping direction
should point to the primary locating surface when it is possible. Figure 21
shows an example of where the hole is to be bored with a perpendicularity
requirement to the bottom plane A. Because A is selected as the primary
locating datum, the clamping direction should be perpendicular to surface A
for a reliable locating contact so that the perpendicularity requirement can
be satisfied although the workpiece angle ex may not be exactly 90 due to
the manufacturing tolerance.
In order to reduce the workpiece deformation, the clamping direction
should be toward to the major locating surface with a large contact area so
that the clamping pressure in a unit area is not significant. Especially in the
case of workpieces with thin walls, the clamping direction should be placed
in the direction with a high degree of stiffness.
Properly selecting the clamping direction can lead to the smaller clamp-
ing force required. If the clamping direction coincides with the workpiece
gravity and/or cutting-force direction, the clamping force may become
(a) a.=9Q
O
(c) (1<900
Figure 21 Clamping-force direction effect (I).
36 Chapter 2
__ 1_.
cl
/,./Q
P
l
p
'tT
P
*
!P
p
-+--+
t ~ - ~
p-l
. I
--.1 0
0 0
<I'
Q ~ - 1 -
I
0
, jG
' ~ G
.}- !
. fit
L
/;) // // )/ / ;,); /
G
G
G
Q
(a) (b) ( c ) (d) (e) (t)
Figure 22 Clamping-force direction effect (2).
smaller. Figure 22 shows several examples; Q is the clamping force, G is
the gravity force, and P is the cutting force. The required clamping force in
the case of Fig. 22a is the smallest. In the case in Fig. 22b, the direction of
the cutting force is parallel to the major locating surface. Therefore, a certain
amount of friction force is required to resist the cutting force, which may
require a large clamping force. Similar descriptions can be provided for the
other cases in Fig. 22.
(b) Selection of Clamping Position
Once the clamping direction is selected, the clamping position can be de-
termined such that the workpiece locating is kept and the workpiece for-
mation is minimized. Figure 23 provides an example of a face-milling fixture
where when the clamping position is higher than the side locating position,
a rotational moment will push the workpiece to leave the locating position.
In order to reduce the workpiece deformation, the clamping positions should
be against the locators even in the situation of auxiliary support which im-
proves the fixturing stiffness in particular machining operations. Figure 24
------q- Q
\- - .
\
"..,...R _ . _ . _ . _ . _ . _ \
\
(a)
(b)
Figure 23 Clamping position effect (I).
Fixture-Design Principle
37
B B
~ ~ = B
Ql ~ \ , ~
1 -- )
C---- ~ ~ a
, 'J \
, / /
Figure 24 Clamping position effect (2).
shows an example of a clutch for a workpiece in the straddle-milling op-
eration, where the clamping positions are against the locators and supporter.
2.3.3 Determination of Clamping-Force Magnitude
The magnitudes of clamping forces are usually determined in the fixture
design by considering the equilibrium condition of the workpiece-fixture
system under machining and clamping forces. Initially, the workpiece and
fixture are regarded as a rigid-body system. Once a theoretical clamping
force is calculated based on the equilibrium condition, a safety coefficient
should be applied for a reliable clamping:
Q= KQo (25)
where Qo is the theoretical clamping force, Q is the required clamping force,
and K is the safety coefficient.
In different machining operations, the value of K may be different be-
cause of tool wear, interrupt machining, and so forth. For rough machining,
the safety coefficient can be selected as K = 2.5-3.0, whereas for finish
machining, K = 1.5-2.5. The estimation of the required clamping-force mag-
nitudes is a necessary step in clamping device design. Examples of clamp-
ing-force determinations are shown in following subsections.
(a) Clamping Force in Turning Operation
Figure 25 shows a turning operation where the workpiece is located and
clamped with a three-jaw chuck. The machining-force components are
shown in Fig. 25; P
z
is the primary machining force and P
x
is the machining
force in the feed direction. Because P
z
P,,, the theoretical required clamp-
ing forces can be calculated by
38
Figure 25 Clamping-force calculation in a turning operation.
and
D
Q(l=-D' P,
j..l. n
KD
Q = KQo = --, P,
j..l.D n
Chapter 2
(26)
(27)
where D is the workpiece diameter in the cutting tool position, D' is the
workpiece diameter in the chuck position, 1-1 is the friction coefficient be-
tween the workpiece and the cutting tool, and n is the number of jaws.
(b) Clamping Force in Face-Milling Operation
Figure 26 shows a workpiece in a vise fixture under face milling. The ma-
chining force can be decomposed into a radial force Pr> a tangential force
PI' and an axial force Po. In the horizontal plane, the machining-force com-
ponent in the x direction will not weaken the clamping, and the minimum
clamping force required in the y direction can be calculated by
(28a)
where e is a contact angle of the machining tool. To be conservative, the
minimum clamping force can be calculated by
(28b)
Similarly, the minimum clamping force required in the axial direction can
be verified by
Fixture-Design Principle
39
Q
Figure 26 Clamping-force calculation in a face-milling operation.
(28c)
Finally, the required clamping force can be determined by
(29)
According to practical experience in production, when the workpiece
surface is rough or machined in rough machining, the friction coefficient is
in the range of j..J.. = 0.2-0.3 for steel materials, and when the workpiece
surface is machined in finish machining, j..J.. = 0.1-0.15.
Different clamping devices may provide clamping forces at different
levels. The purpose of estimating the required clamping-force amplitudes is
to initially select clamping devices and design the fixture structure. More
comprehensive clamping-force analysis and fixture-design verification is still
under study (Cogun, 1992).
2.3.4 Clamping Forces Generated by Typical Clamping Devices
There are a variety of clamping devices, especially when dedicated fixtures
are concerned in mass productions (Zhu, 1982). Based on the principles
applied in these clamping devices, there are several basic types of clamping
device which may be designed into different configurations and widely used
in production. Considering the trend of standardization and modularization
of fixture designs, it is important to understand and apply these basic clamp-
ing-device types in fixture design.
(a) The Basic Clamping Mechanism: Wedge Clamp
The wedge clamp is a basic clamping mechanism widely used in fixture
design. Many other clamping devices, such as screw- and cam-clamping
40 Chapter 2
devices, are actually differ from the wedge mechanism. Figure 27 shows the
principle of clamping with a wedge surface, where 2 is the workpiece, 3 is
a locator, and 1 is the clamping wedge mechanism.
The clamping force can be determined by
R
Q=-------
tan <P2 + tan(a + <PI)
(30)
where R is the external force applied in clamping operation, ex is the wedge
angle of the clamping device, 4' 1 and 4'2 are the friction angles between the
clamping wedge and the workpiece, and the workpiece and the fixture base,
respecti vely.
When the external force R is removed after clamping, self-locking is
expected so that the workpiece will be held in the locating position. The
self-locking condition is that the wedge angle is small. In Fig. 27c, when
the external force R becomes zero, the clamping force will remain the same
as when the original R was applied. The directions of the friction forces will
become inverse to resist the motion of the wedge-clamping device. At an
extreme condition, the maximum wedge angle is
(3) )
Therefore, the self-locking condition for the wedge-clamping mechanism is
(32)
Generally, the friction coefficient of steel materials is in the rage of J..L =
3
3
~ ~ ~
R
S' 0 0'
S
R
S'
S'
(a) (b)
( c)
Figure 27 Clamping-force analysis of the wedge mechanism.
Fixture-Design Principle 41
D
p
)/---i+--- R
s'
(a) (b)
Figure 28 Clamping-force analysis of the wedge mechanism with a roller.
0.1-0.15; then, 'P = tan-1J.L = (543'-828'). Therefore, an = 11-17. The
actual wedge angle a is usually selected to be between 6 and 8. When
power clamping devices are used, self-locking may not be necessary. There-
fore, the wedge angle can be designed larger.
In many cases, the wedge mechanism cannot be used directly, but in a
form of variations. One of the wedge mechanism properties is that it can be
used as a force-increase device. The force-increase ratio can be obtained
from Eq. (30); that is,
. Q
1 = - = --------
R tan 'P2 + tan( a + 'P2)
(33)
In order to improve the efficiency of the force-increase effect, a roller can
be used in the wedge mechanism, as shown in Fig. 28, where the self-locking
function may be lost. The wedge mechanism with a roller is popular in
dedicated fixture designs for mass production, where it plays the role of
force transmission between the clamping device and a power source.
(b) Screw Clamps
Screw-clamping devices are the most widely used mechanism in all kinds
of fixtures; this device can be regarded as a variation of the wedge mech-
anism. The advantages of applying the screw-clamping devices include sim-
ple structure, large force-increase ratio, and reliable self-locking property.
42 Chapter 2
The major disadvantage is that the operation speed is relatively slow, which
limits its application in mass and automated productions.
In direct applications, the screw-clamping devices take two basic forms,
as shown in Fig. 29. In the first form, the end surface of a bolt (1) directly
contacts the workpiece surface (4), as shown in Fig. 29a. In order to prevent
the screw from wear in frequent clamping operations, a bush (2) is used. In
the clamping operation, the relative motion of the clamping bolt to the work-
piece surface may result in a surface damage. A pressing block (5) can be
applied to avoid workpiece surface damage, which will not rotate in the
clamping operation, as shown in Fig. 29b. The second form of screw clamp-
ing is shown in Fig. 29c, where a nut is directly pressed on the workpiece
surface. Usually, the height of the nut is larger than standard nuts and a step
surface is added to increase the contact surface for reliable clamping.
The clamping-force calculation of screw clamps is similar to that for
the wedge clamps. Actually, the screw can be regarded as a wedge surface
around a cylinder. As shown in Fig. 30, when the external clamping force
is R, the clamping force on the workpiece is
RL
Q=-------
fa tan(a + 'P) + f-lfh
(34)
where L is the handle length of the screw clamp, ra is the bolt radius, rh is
the average radius of the bolt end contact surface (or the pressing block, or
the nut step surface), ex is the screw pitch angle, and 'P is the friction angle.
3
(a)
(c)
(b)
Figure 29 SCfew clamps.
Fixture-Design Principle 43
Q
Figure 30 Clamping-force analysis of a screw clamp.
The major disadvantage of screw clamping is that the operation time is
long for fastening and releasing. Cam clamping is one of the fastest clamping
devices.
(c) Cam Clamps
Cylindrical cam clamps are widely used in production because of its simple
structure and easiness to make, although special curves may be used in some
cases. Figure 31 shows a typical cam clamp, where e is the eccentric distance
and 2e is the stroke of the clamping operation. When the cam rotates clock-
wise, the distance is increased between the cylindrical surface and the ro-
tating center. Therefore, the workpiece is clamped.
The cylindrical cam clamp consists of a cylindrical wheel mounted on
a rotation shaft with an eccentric distance e. When the wheel rotates around
the eccentric center 0, it is equivalent to a wedge clamp with a varying
wedge angle, as shown in Fig. 32. The eccentric distance e is an important
design variable of cylindrical cam clamps. Considering the manufacturing
tolerances of fixture components and the workpiece, it should be
(35)
where 8 is the workpiece thickness tolerance at the clamping position, SI is
the clearance between the wheel and workpiece for workpiece loading/un-
loading, and S2 is a safe distance for the stroke dead-band.
The self-locking condition is that the wedge angle be smaller than the
friction angle in the entire stroke. If the friction force on the wheel-mounting
shaft is neglected because of the small radius, the self-clocking condition at
the maximum wedge-angle position is, as shown in Fig. 33a,
44 Chapter 2
e
Figure 31 Cylindrical cam clamp.
n
n,
e \ ~ ~ _ R e , ...
\ ~ ~
. /,
2e
m' 00
(a)
m
(b)
Figure 32 Clamping-force analysis of cam clamps.
R
F
//
a.
Figure 33 Self-locking and clamping-force analysis of cam clamps.
Fixture-Design Principle 45
e J..L
-<-
0-2
(36)
where D is the wheel diameter.
The clamping force generated using the cam clamp can be calculated,
as shown in Fig. 33b, by
RL cos a
Q = ---------
p[tan(a + <.pt) + tan <.p2]
(37)
where R is the external clamping force, L is the handle length, et is the
wedge angle at the clamping point, p is the radius of the eccentric shaft, 'PI
is the friction angle between the wheel and workpiece, and 'P2 is the friction
angle between the eccentric shaft and the wheel.
Compared with the screw clamp, the cam clamp maintains such prop-
erties that the operation stroke is short, the operation time is short, and self-
locking is not as reliable as with screw clamps. Therefore, it may not be
suitable in applications when serious machining vibrations are involved.
(d) Lever Clamps
A lever mechanism can be utilized with the lever clamps. There are three
types of configuration, as shown in Fig. 34. The clamping force can be
calculated by
RL
Q=-
LJ
where L is the clamping-arm length and LJ is the lever length.
(38)
In different fixture-design configuration, the clamping force may be
greater than, less than, or equal to the external fastening force. In production,
L
Ll L
R
(a) (b) (c)
Figure 34 Lever clamps.
46 Chapter 2
R
l
Q
(a) (b)
Figure 35 Lever clamps with a screw- or cam-fastening mechanism.
the lever clamps are usually used with a screw- or cam-fastening mechanism
for applying the external fastening forces, as shown in Fig. 35.
In addition to the locating and clamping functions, a fixture may play
a role in a machining operation with other two functions: (I) guiding the
cutting tool as a jig where a bushing is used, as shown in Fig. 36a and (2)
setting a datum for tool - workpiece position alignment, especially in Ne
machining. as shown in Fig. 36b. These functions are utilized to save setup
time.
-@)-
(b)
(c)
(a)
Figure 36 Additional functions in fixture design: cutting-tool guiding and
workpiece-tool alignment, where t is the thickness of the thickness gauge or gauge
hlock.
Fixture-Design Principle 47
2.4 FIXTURE-DESIGN PROCESSES
A fixture-design process includes information input, a decision-making pro-
cess, fixture-design verification, and a fixture-design output, as shown in
Fig. 37. The input information of fixture design is the part-design and man-
ufacturing-plan information. The decision variables are determinations of a
locating and clamping method, fixture component selections, and a fixture
configuration design. In the fixture-design verification, basically, the locating
accuracy and clamping forces are evaluated and desgin modification is made
if necessary. The output is an assembly drawing of the fixture design, fixture
component drawings, and a standard component list. Typical procedures of
fixture design can include five steps: reviewing the part design and manu-
facturing requirement, locating datum selection, locating- and cJamping-
Information Input:
- Part design
-- Manufacturing plan
Fixture Design Decision
-Input information analysis
- Locating datum selection
- Locating/clamping method selection
- Locating/clamping device and
mechanism selection and design
- Fixture configuration design
Fixture Design Verification
- Locating accuracy evaluation
- Clamping force verification
Fixture Design Output
- Fixture assembly drawing
- Fixture component drawing
- Standard component list
Figure 37 Typical fixture-design procedure.
48 Chapter 2
method determination, standard components and mechanism selection, and
fixture configuration design. These fixture-design activities can be conducted
simultaneously. Manufacturing knowledge, familiarity of the workshop, and
fixturing experience are the basis for a designer to successfully conduct a
good fixture design. A sophisticated designer usually starts a fixture design
by recalling a similar fixture configuration previously made as a reference.
Fixturing accuracy analysis, clamping-force calculation, and fixturing stiff-
ness estimation are necessary and involved in the fixture-design activities.
The fixture-design processes may be slightly different in a dedicated-fixture
design, adjustable-fixture design, and modular-fixture design, but the prin-
ciple and basic procedure are very similar.
REFERENCES
Cogun, C (1992), The Importance of the Application Sequence of Clamping Forces
on Workpiece Accuracy. ASME Journal of Engineering for Industry, Vol. 114,
pp. 539-543.
Hoffman. E. G. (1991), Jig and Fixture Design, 3RD ed., Delmar, New York.
Nee. A. Y. C, and A. Senthil Kumar ( 1991), A Framework for an Object/Rule-based
Automated Fixture Design System, Annals of the CIRP, pp. 147 -151.
Zhu, Y. (1982). Principle of Fixture Design, Beijing Science and Technology Press,
Beijing, (in Chinese).
Zhu. Y.. Z. Chen. and Z. Luo. (1987), Precision Fabrication and Micro-processing
Technology, First Beijing Press, Beijing (in Chinese).
3
Modular-Fixture Systetns
Fixtures were developed and widely used in manufacturing operations to
locate and hold a part firmly in position so that the required manufacturing
processes can be carried out according to design specifications (Hoffman,
1991). As part of manufacturing tooling, the application of dedicated fixtures
has greatly contributed to the development of automated manufacturing sys-
tems, especially in the automobile industry. As in the development of tech-
nologies, flexible fixturing is desired. Currently, modular fixtures are the
most widely used flexible fixtures in industry.
3.1 DEVELOPMENT OF MODULAR FIXTURES
Based on fixture component standardization, modular fixtures are designed
as a series of prefabricated standard components and units with relatively
tight geometric tolerances that can be assembled rapidly into a variety of
design configurations to hold parts with different geometry and fixturing
requirements. After certain manufacturing operations, the modular fixtures
can be disassembled and reused for other jobs (Zhu and Zhang, 1990). Fig-
ure 1 shows a comparison of the usage of dedicated and modular fixtures.
Roughly speaking, there are two types of modular fixture system: T-
slot-based and dowel-pin-based systems. Figure 2 are sketches of T-slot-
based and dowel-pin-based modular-fixture components. The earliest mod-
ular-fixture system appeared during World War H. It was developed by John
Wharton in England as a set of block-type standard components which could
be used to build up different fixture configurations for military production.
49
50
Chapter 3
fixture
design
component
fabrication
and assembly
apply to
production
(a)
fixture design
/ and assembly
component
library
"
disassembly
fixture
apply to
production
(b)
Figure 1 Comparison of dedicated and modular fixtures: (a) application of dedi-
cated fixtures: (b) application of modular fixtures.
Later, the Wharton system was commercially produced and widely used as
the first T-slot-based modular-fixture system. Thereafter, under the support
of the former Soviet Union government, a more complete modular-fixture
system (YCn) was developed, which was also T-slot based. Now many other
modular-fixture systems are available in market. It should be mentioned that
although dowel-pin-based modular-fixture systems were proposed quite early
in the mid-1950s, they were rapidly developed and applied in production in
the late seventies as a result of the NC systems developed and widely used
in production. Because of severe competition, product manufacturing need
to be of good quality, low cost, and fast. Variety is needed in product designs
and the production cycle time required to be shorter and shorter. Therefore,
modular fixtures become practical flexible fixtures in production.
For years, applications of modular fixtures have led to significant tech-
nological and economical benefits including the following four aspects:
I. Manufacturing lead time is significantly reduced. Applications of
modular fixtures can reduce more than 80% of the time spent for
production preparation. Usually, the design and assembly of mod-
ular fixtures can be finished within several hours, instead of days
or even weeks for the design and fabrication of dedicated fixtures.
This is specially beneficial for shortening the time of the new prod-
(a)
Figure 2 (b)
(a) T-slot-based and Cb) d .
owel-pm-based modular-fi
xture components.
52 Chapter 3
uct to market and, therefore, enhancing the competitive capability
of a manufacturing company.
2. The production cost is reduced. Because modular fixtures are re-
usable, replacing dedicated fixtures with modular fixtures leads to
a significant reduction of the materials and manufacturing costs of
fixtures, especially in job and batch productions.
3. Utilization of modular fixtures is helpful for ensuring production
quality. It is quite common that machining accuracy is not satisfied
because the fixture is not well design and fabricated. The standard
modular-fixture components are usually manufactured with tight tol-
erances. Once they are assembled into different configurations, in
many cases the positions of functional components (locators) can
be locally adjusted or reassembled, which provides a potential to
improve the production quality.
4. Utilization of modular fixtures may extend the capability of man-
ufacturing equipment and improve the production rate. In job and
small-batch production, using general purpose fixture components
(e.g., vise and straps) usually requires adjustment time for tool-part
alignment, which may take a long time. Modular-fixture systems
provide additional functions such as complete locating, positional
reference corresponding to the standard hole spacing, and tool guid-
ance functions.
Besides regular production, modular fixtures are also suitable for appli-
cation to the following situations:
I. In prototype production, modular fixtures can be built quickly and
are easy to alter.
2. In an emergency short run of the machine operation, modular fix-
tures can be designed and built up quickly.
3. When the product design changes, modular fixturing is easy to
change.
4. When a manufacturing process is changed, temporary fixtures can
be made with modular fixtures until the process is proven.
5. When a machine breaks down or a bottleneck is identified, modular
fixtures can be built up quickly so that the production can be per-
formed on other machines.
6. If a dedicated fixture is broken or worn out, existing fixtures can
be duplicated with modular fixtures while the dedicated fixture is
repaired or replaced.
7. To overcome the long fixture-design and fabrication time, modular
fixtures can be designed and assembled in hours.
Modular-Fixture S.vstems
53
8. To overcome the long fixture design and fabrication lead time, tem-
porary fixtures can be made with modular fixtures until dedicated
fixtures are complete; thus, a quick response is possible to supply
the new product to market.
In the following sections, T-slot-based and dowel-pin-based modular
fixtures are introduced, and fixturing cost and management issues are
discussed.
3.2 T-SLOT-BASED MODULAR-FIXTURE SYSTEMS
T-slot-based modular fixtures have been developed and used in production
for more than half a century. The relative positions between fixture com-
ponents are determined precisely by moving them along the slots with keys
for positioning [the slots are manufactured parallel (or perpendicular) to each
other with equal distances and tight tolerances]. Then, the fixture compo-
nents are connected by a bolt-nut screw fastening. Figure 3 shows an ex-
ample of a fixture for drilling holes on a shaft part, where the fixture consists
of a base plate, a jig and jig support, and a V-block locating unit. The keys
can be moved liberaBy along the slots so that the T-slot modular fixture has
good adjustability. The fixturing functions performed by applying T-slot-
based modular fixtures include: locating, clamping, supporting, guiding, and
graduating. T-Slot-based modular fixtures can be assembled for various ma-
chining operations, such as turning, milling, drilling, boring, and even press-
/1/
Key for positioning
Figure 3 An example of a T-slot-based fixture for drilling operations.
54 Chapter 3
Wharton System (England)
T -slot -based modular fixture systems ycn System (Russia)
CA TIC System (China)
Halder System (Germany)
Figure 4 T-slot-based modular-fixture systems.
ing, but a large number of T-slot fixtures are assembled primarily as jigs for
drilling.
There are many T-slot-based modular-fixture systems in which the fol-
lowing four systems are well known and popular: the Wharton (England).
YCn (Russia), CATIC (China). and Halder (Germany) systems; see Fig. 4.
3.2.1 T-Slot Modular-Fixture Components
Fixture components in T-slot-based modular-fixture systems were originally
designed according to the functions of dedicated-fixture components based
on some standardization principles. Although there are differences in com-
mercial systems, the classification, structure, and shapes of fixture compo-
nents are quite similar. Usually, the T-slot-based modular-fixture components
are classified into eight categories: baseplate, supports. locators, guiding
components, clamps, fastening components, combined units. and miscella-
neous. Figure 5 shows a typical component in each category. The compo-
nents are described as follows:
The baseplate is a fixture base upon which all other fixture components
are assembled while it is placed on the machine table during ma-
chining operations. There are square. rectangular. round. and an-
gular baseplates. All of them consist of T-slots in different
directions.
Supports are structural components in the fixture design; they are used
to support other functional components and connect them to the
baseplate. The functional components include locators and clamps.
There are blocks, angular supports. and many other geometric
shapes for raising the functional components to different heights.
T-slots and holes are on the supports for positioning and fastening
purposes. Because of the tight manufacturing tolerances. the sur-
faces on supports are also valid for the locating purpose.
Modular-Fixture Systems
55
Locators are used to determine the relative position and orientation of
parts and fixture components. Typical locators include locating keys,
locating pins, locating pads, diamond pins, V-blocks, and so forth.
One example of a guiding component is the jig in hole processing to
reduce the operation time and ensure processing quality.
Straps are typical clamps used for securing parts in the located position
under machining forces.
Fastening components are used to connect fixture components into a
single structure, including T-bolts, nuts, and washers.
Miscellaneous includes components other than the above six categories.
such as connecting pad, balancing pad, and handlers.
Combined units are defined as sets of components assembled together
for performing specific functions as individual units in different fix-
ture designs and will not be disassembled after operations. Typical
combined units include center head, graduation bed, hinge units.
and side-support units.
It should be mentioned that although the T-slot-based modular-fixture
components are classified into eight categories, they may be used in mixed
functions based on their structural parameters. In production practice, it is
also quite common to design different fixture configurations for the same
job. The modular-fixture configuration design has been an experience-based
task for a long time.
3.2.2 Structural Elements of T-Slot Modular Fixtures
A modular fixture is assembled from standard fixture components. In order
to reuse these components in fixture assemblies, the connection parts of
fixture components must be well designed and fabricated with a standard
and interexchangeability. In T-slot-based modular-fixture systems. the con-
nection parts of the components are keyways, T-slots and their distances,
connection screw, and through holes. These geometric parameters are de-
fined as structural elements of T-slot-based modular-fixture systems which
dominate the mechanical structure, geometric shapes, and dimensions of
fixture components and contribute substantially to the interexchangeability,
strength, and stiffness of fixture components. Because the part size may be
quite different in production, there are several series of fixture components
within a modular-fixture system. Most T-slot modular-fixture systems em-
ploy metric units and contain four series. Table I lists the four-series T-slot
modular-fixture systems with structural element parameters. Because the
keyways are made on the T-slots usually, the T-slot geometry needs to be
standard too, as shown in Fig. 6. Table 2 shows the T-slot parameters in
56
Chapter 3
Baseplates
square baseplate rectangular baseplate round baseplate angular baseplate
Supports
square support long support angular support V shape support
Locators
locating pin locating support round locating disc locating key
Guiding components
driH jig plate guiding mount driH jig bush vertical jig plate
Figure 5 T-slot-based modular-fixture components.
Modular-Fixture Systems
57
Clamps

flat clamping strap double heel clamp fork clamp goose neck clamp
Fastening components


offsetT-boIt socket-head cap screw spherical washer nut with collar
Miscellaneous
connecting clamp counterbalance nut pillar support cap stop
Combined units
end-tooth graduation table center stock right-angle leaf hinge single clamp
Figure 5 Continued
Table 1 T-Slot-Based Modular-Fixture Series and Structural Elements
T-slot Support cross section
width Max. size of Screw Keyway Slot
Series (mm) workpieces size width distance Square Rectangular
1 (6 mm) 6 500 X 250 X 250 M6 6 + 0.012 30 ::: 0.01 22.5 X 22.5 22.5 X 30
2 (8 mm) 8 500 X 250 X 250 M8 8 + 0.015 30 ::: 0.01 30 X 30 30 X 45
3 (10 mm) 12 1500 X 1000 X 500 M12 12 + 0.018 60 ::: 0.01 60 X 60 45 X 60, 45 X 90,
60 X 90
4 (16 mm) 16 2500 X 2500 X 1000 MI6 16 + 0.018 75 ::: 0.01 75 X 75 75 X 112.5
90 X 90 60 X 120, 90 X 120
Modular-Fixture Systems 59
Figure 6 T-slot structure elements.
CATIC system. The design and fabrication of T-slot-based modular fixtures
must be standard for the purpose of assembly into different configurations
with interexchangeability.
3.2.3 Assembly Configuration Design of T-Slot Modular Fixtures
The fixture configuration design with T-slot-based modular fixtures is a
highly experience-based process, in which fixture components are selected
and assembled into a functional structure with a certain sequence where a
broad and in-depth manufacturing knowledge, experience, and skill are re-
quired. A typical fixture configuration design and assembly process is shown
in Fig. 7; five steps are involved:
I. Understanding of the fixture-design requirements from the part de-
sign (usually the engineering drawing), processing requirement
Table 2 Structural Elements of T-Slots
Elements
Series b b
l BI hi h2 h;
6 6 + 0.012 6 9.5 3.2 + 0.18 3.0 0.125 3
8 8 + 0.015 9 13 4.3 + 0.18 4.8 0.150 3
12 12 + 0.018
]3
20 7.3 + 0.36 6 0.15, 10 0.18 4
16 16 + 0.018 17 24 8.5 + 0.36 9 0.18, 12 0.35 5
60 Chapter 3
Figure 7 A typical fixture-design process.
(process planning), and workshop condition (e.g., available machine
tools and fixture components).
2. Fixture planning, which includes determinations of the locating
method according to the tolerance relationships between machining
surfaces and locating datum, locating mechanism, clamping method
and mechanism, overall fixture structure, fixture component selec-
tion, connections between fixture components, whether special mea-
surement and adjustment is required, and whether special compo-
nents need to be design and fabricated, to be used in the fixture
construction .
.3. Initial layout design and test assembly, where real fixture compo-
nents are placed onto a baseplate to verify whether all of the fix-
turing requirements are satisfied in the fixture planning. There are
usually more than one way to design a fixture for a specific task.
Different initial designs are compared in this step.
4. Modification; once a problem is identified, necessary modifications
are made to improve the fixture configuration design. This is a very
necessary step in the manual mode of fixture design, especially
complex fixturing tasks are involved.
5. Fixture fastening and testing, where fixture components are finally
fastened together with keys and screw bolts. In this step, fixture
component position measurement and adjustment is usually neces-
sary to ensure the locating accuracy. Proper clamping force mag-
nitudes are also controlled for fixturing reliability. Other fixturing
performances are also verified, such as locating accuracy, fixturing
accessibility, stiffness, and so forth. In many cases, a try-cut is nec-
essary in fixture-design verification.
These fixturing activities can be conducted alternatively. Figure 8 shows
the percentage of time spent in the five steps. If there is a need for calcu-
lations of spatial angles, coordinate positions, and/or transformation, the time
of fixture planning could be longer. To illustrate the fixture-design and as-
sembly process with T-slot systems, Fig. 9 shows an example of a part which
is a connecting rod where the machining surface is the <p5 hole perpendicular
to the plane specified by the central axes of the two large holes. After ex-
Modular-Fixture Systems
fi
time
part design fixture
review planning
initial
design
modification fastening
and testing
Figure 8 Percentages of fixturing time consumed in each of the five steps.
61
amining the part design and manufacturing plan, one end surface of the two
holes is selected as the primary locating datum. The two large holes are
utilized with a round pin and a diamond pin to finally locate the part. Be-
cause the hole to be drilled is relatively small, the drilling-force effect is not
significant. A U-shape washer is used to clamp the part. For convenience of
tool alignment, a drilling jig is used. Other fixture components are selected
and assembled onto a rectangular baseplate. Figure lOa shows the fixture
component selection for the initial design and assembly, and Fig. lOb shows
the final result of the fixture after adjustment and fastening.
The process of T-slot-based modular-fixture configuration design in-
volves a complex thinking (design) and a hand's-on assembly practice,
which requires the designers to have a thorough understanding of manufac-
turing and an operation skill for various components and devices. Usually,
a time-consuming manufacturing practice is necessary for a tooling engineer
to gain and accumulate the manufacturing knowledge and practice skill. In
many cases, such qualified tooling engineers may not be available, which
encourages the development of computer-aided fixture-design (CAFD) sys-
Figure 9 An example of a part.
62
Chapter 3
Figure 10
Modular-Fixture S.vstems 63
terns or design-assistant tools to help the designer for selecting fixture com-
ponents and typical fixturing configurations.
3.3 DOWEL-PIN-BASED MODULAR-FIXTURE SYSTEMS
The very first dowel-pin-based modular fixture system was developed in the
former East Germany in the late 1950s for limited applications. Dowel-pin-
based modular-fixture systems have been widely applied since the late sev-
enties, in which the connection of fixture components are accomplished by
using a dowel pin and tapped holes. On baseplates and other components,
many pin holes and tapped holes are precisely machined in a rectangular
(or radial) grid pattern for locating and fastening other components. The
bolt-screw connection is applied in fixture component assemblies. Because
locating the elements is performed by means of dowel pins and holes, the
dowel-pin modular fixture is not continuously adjustable, except using ad-
justable elements. As NC machines and machining centers are used more
and more in industry, the tool path and orientation can be precisely con-
trolled, as well as the motion of the machine table. Therefore. the fixturing
requirements have been simplified significantly. The machining speed and
feed rate have been increased and it is desired that the fixturing setup time
can be reduced further. In recent years, dowel-pin-based modular fixtures
are widely used in NC machining for small lots and one-piece-type produc-
tion.
3.3.1 Comparison of T-Slot and Dowel-Pin Modular-Fixture
Systems
Compared with the T-slot-based modular fixtures, the dowel-pin-based mod-
ular fixtures have the following differences:
1. High fixturing stiffness. Because many T-slots have been machined
on baseplates and other components in T-slot-based modular-fixture
systems, the overall stiffness of the fixture is weakened because of
the open structure. Tests show that the stiffness of dowel-pin mod-
ular-fixture components is several times greater than that of aT-slot
modular-fixture based on the measure of the same material volume.
Therefore, the overall fixturing stiffness of dowel-pin modular fix-
tures is expected to be high after assembly. Figure 11 is a plot of
the experimental results using a typical assembly unit from 8-mm
systems of both T-slot- and dowel-pin-based modular-fixture sys-
tems (Zhu and Zhang, 1990). Currently, tool-steel materials are used
64 Chapter 3
stiffness curves
100
90
80
E 70
:1
0
60 0
....
- - - - T -slot fixture
c
50
0
i
40
E
--dowel-pin fixture
.2
30
CII
'0
20
10
0
0
Figure 11 A comparison of fixture stiffness of T-slot and dowel-pin fixtures.
to make T-slot-based modular fixtures because of its greater strength
and stiffness, this leads to an increase of manufacturing cost of the
fixtures.
2. Low manufacturing cost. The manufacturing process of T-slots is
complicated and requires special tools (even machines) to ensure
the productivity. In contrast, the manufacturing process of a dowel-
pin modular-fixture is simple and economical, especially the use of
a bushing technique where the locating bushes are glued into fixture
component bodies and the distance accuracy is ensured by using a
master plate. Therefore, the precision grinding operation for locating
holes is no longer this leads to a much lower manufac-
turing cost.
3. Short setup time. In the assembly of T-slot-based modular fixtures,
much time is needed to measure and adjust the relative positions of
fixture components. For dowel-pin-based modular fixtures, the as-
sembly is accomplished with hole alignments between fixture com-
ponents, which is more simplified and relatively easy to assemble
by means of automation, such as robot assembly, although, some-
times, adjustable components may be used.
4. Reliable locating. In the application of dowel-pin-based modular
fixtures, the one-plane and two-pin locating method is applied to
Modular-Fixture S.vstems
Table 3 Comparison of T-Slot- and Dowel-Pin-Based
Modular Fixtures
T-slot-based
modular Dowel-pin-based
fixtures modular fixtures
Variation of fixture More Less
configurations
Quantity of fixture More Fewer
components required
Fixturing stiffness Lower Higher
Operator skill required in Sophisticated Some
assembling
Manufacturing cost Higher Lower
65
the assembly of fixture components, which is more reliable than the
slot-key locating as seen in the T-slot-based fixture assembly. In
addition, because of the high accuracy and standard of the distance
distribution, any locating hole in a dowel-pin-based fixture can be
used as a reference point in NC programming and motion control
of the machine table.
5. Limited assembly flexibility. Because the locating holes are dis-
cretely distributed on the surfaces of fixture components, the flex-
ibility of dowel-pin-based modular fixtures is limited compared with
T-slot-based modular fixtures. This is in part because the type and
variations of fixture components in dowel-pin-based modular-fixture
systems are not as many as is seen in T-slot-based modular-fixture
systems.
Table 3 shows the comparison of T-slot- and dowel-pin-based modular
fixtures. Currently in North American, more companies are using dowel-pin-
based modular-fixture systems than the companies using T-slot systems.
3.3.2 Components and Functional Structural Units of Dowel-Pin
Modular Fixtures
Dowel-pin-based modular fixtures are produced primarily in Germany, the
United States, China, and Russia. Although different companies produce
fixtures with different systems, there are common series and structural fea-
66 Chapter 3
tures in the design and application. Figure 12 lists major dowel-pin-based
modular-fixture systems available in the marketplace. Usually, dowel-pin
fixture components are classified into five categories: fixture base, supports,
locators, clamps, and accessories, as shown in Fig. 13.
The function of fixture bases is similar to the one in T-slot-based mod-
ular-fixture fixtures. Besides the flat baseplates and angle plates, T-columns
and square columns are used to support other fixture components in hori-
zontal NC machines.
Structural supports are used to construct the bones of fixture configu-
rations above the fixture base and support other functional components such
as locators and clamps.
Locators are in contact with parts for the locating function. Typical
locators include rest pads, parallel bars, square support, edge bars, adjustable
bars, and V-pads.
Screw-driving clamps are the major clamping type in dowel-pin-based
modular fixture systems. Clamps in these systems are basically for top and
side clamping. In top clamping, a variety of straps are popular, as well as
their supports.
Typical accessories include a variety of bolt-screws and nuts for fasten-
ing, spacers, hole plugs to protect the holes from dirt and machining chips,
and various handlers.
Bluco System (Germany, USA)
Kipp System (Germany)
Dowel-pin modular fixture systems .....--.. Stevens System (USA)
Carr Lane System (USA)
SAFE System (USA)
CATIC System (China)
TJMGS System (China)
CPO System (Russia)
Figure 12 Dowel-pin-based modular-fixture systems.
Modular-Fixture Systems
Fixture bases
Rectangular baseplate
Supports
Console
Locators
V-block
Clamps
Side clamp
Fastening components
Extension nut

>:.:.:-.

.... " .
)I: .& .... j\, '6 '" .,. .101-
..... "
.... ,11, .". ... .,. "
.......... ...
lI; '" .. 1\
Round baseplate
Angle support

,;.
Ym:low T ool1g BIod<
T-column
Angle plate
Square <:OIumn
Surface edge block Edge bar Adjustable bar
1
,
Top clamp Clamping strap
Socked head bolt Flange nut
Figure 13 Dowel-pin-based modular-fixture components.
67
68 Chapter 3
Similar to T-slot systems, the functions of a particular fixture component
may vary in different applications. For example, in many cases, locators can
be used as supports, and vice versa.
3.3.3 Structural Elements of Dowel-Pin Modular Fixtures
The relative positions of fixture components are determined by using pin-
hole fit assemblies. For an accurate and reliable position between fixture
components in an assembly, the one-plane and two-hole locating principle
is applied when the screw connection is used to fasten fixture components
together. Therefore, on the fixture component body, there are pin and tapped
holes in a grid-type distribution.
For interexchangeability, the hole sizes and distances as well as their
tolerances, are standard, which are the structural elements of dowel-pin-
based fixture systems. In order to apply modular fixtures to different sizes
of parts, similar to T-slot fixtures, different series sizes are designed and
manufactured, as shown in Table 4. Usually in Europe and Asia, metric units
are used, whereas in the United States both systems with metric and English
units are available. Table 5 shows the structural element series employed by
different fixture companies.
The distribution of the holes may vary in different systems. There are
two basic types of distribution. The first one is that in which the pin holes
and tapped holes are alternatively distributed, as shown in Fig. 14b. The
second one is that in which the pin holes and tapped holes are made together,
therefore evenly distributed, as shown in Fig. 14a. For different components,
there may be other hole distributions different from these two basic types.
For example, the radial grid hole distribution for round baseplate, diagonal,
and uneven hole distributions.
Table 4 Dowel-Pin-Based Modular-Fixture Series
Locating-hole
size Tapped-hole size
Series (mm) (in.) (mm) (in.)
Mini size 6 M6
Small size lO 5116 MlO 5116-18
Mid-size 12 112 Ml2 1/2-13
Large size 16 3/4, 5/8 MI6 3/4-10, 5/8-11

-
S'




TableS Dowel-Pin-Based Modular-Fixture Structural Elements
c;.,


Bluco Kipp Qu-Co Stevens Carr Lane CATIC TJMGS cpn
c;.,
(mm) (mm) (in.) (in.) (in.) (mm) (mm) (mm)
Locating-hole size <\>6-H6 <\>12-F7 5/16 112 112 <\>8-H6 <\>12-H6 <\>12-H7
<\>10-H6 <\>16-F7 112 3/4 5/8 <\>12-H6 <\>16-H6 <\>16-H7
<\>12-H6 3/4
<\>16-H6
Hole distance 20 0.01 50 0.02 11/2 0.0002 llh 0.0015 1 0.0004 30 0.01 40 0.01 60 0.02
30 0.01 21h 0.0002 2 0.0015 2 0.0004 60 0.01 50 0.01 80 0.02
40 0.01 4 0.0002
50 0.01
Tapped-hole size M6 M12 5/16-18 112-13 5116-18 M8 M12 M12
MlO MI6 1/2-13 3/4-10 1/2-13 M12 MI6 MI6
M12 3/4-10 5/8-11
MI6
70
o
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B@ @) @ @)
C@) @) @
o l<xmt 2\
. 0005 OWL
. 000SCR

L I i
, \\ '
- !
(a)
t )\ +",---,-,-, r
\ 0 ,". ,,0 o-t.
1
-'T
P
7501/,7503011. .. jl -1--- ---.-'., _
HARD BUSHED DOWEL HOLE TAP -'
X 1.38 OP.
(b)
Chapter 3
-.scm DIA.


.500

1/2-13Lt-lC

Figure 14 Hole distribution in dowel-pin-based modular-fixture systems.
Modular-Fixture Systems
3.3.4 Assembly Configuration Design of Dowel-Pin Modular
Fixtures
71
The process of assembly configuration design with dowel-pin modular fix-
tures is similar to the process of T-slot modular-fixture configuration design,
but it is simplified because it involves fewer types of fixture component,
fewer choices of hole-alignment, and fewer position adjustments between
fixture components. Figure 15 shows the simplified fixture assembly pro-
cedure. Figure 16 shows an example of the fixture assembly process, in
which the bottom surface is to be machined. The following steps may be
applied to the fixture design:
1. Review the part geometry and machining requirement
2. Select the locating method and datum where, in this example, the
3 - 2- 1 locating method is applied and three planar surfaces
are selected as the locating datum (primary, secondary, and
tertiary)
3. Select fixture components and place them into a configuration
4. Verify the fixture configuration design for possible interference
with the tool path and other properties, make necessary adjustment
especially for the use of adjustable components, and, finally, fasten
all the fixture components into position on the baseplate.
Dowel-pin-based modular fixtures have been widely used with Ne ma-
chines and machining centers, especially in flexible manufacturing systems.
The following examples show the real applications of dowel-pin fixtures in
production. Figure 17 shows an example of a part with a fixture design for
machining the holes on a vertical Ne machine. Figure 18 shows another
example of fixture designs for gearbox parts. Figure 19 shows a fixture
design where the end surfaces and holes of a tube-connection part are ma-
chined on a horizontal Ne machine.
process plan
Locating datwn
selection
Component selection
ani placement
Figure 15 A simplified fixture assembly process.
72 Chapter 3
TERTIARY
Figure 16 An example of fixture assembly process in which the bottom surface
is to be machined.
Modular-Fixture Systems
73
Figure 17 Dowel-pin modular-fixture design example #1.
Figure 18 A fixture design for gearbox parts.
1
74
Chapter 3 1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
Figure 19 A fixture design for horizontal machining.
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
Modular-Fixture Systems
3.4 COST ANALYSIS OF MODULAR-FIXTURE
APPLICATIONS
75
Fixturing cost makes a significant contribution to the production cost of
products. In general, dedicated fixtures are applied in mass production, ad-
justable and modular fixtures may be used in batch production, and modular
fixtures and general-purpose standard fixture components are utilized in job
production, as shown in Fig. 20. Besides the benefits from the reduction of
tooling time in a modular-fixture application, the production cost may be
decreased by applying modular fixtures. This section presents a preliminary
study on the fixturing cost analysis when modular fixtures are applied, which
is compared with the fixturing cost analysis of conventional fixturing
methods.
3.4.1 Fixturing Cost with Modular-Fixture Applications
In a workshop, the annual fixturing cost when modular fixtures are used can
be calculated using
Many
Run
frequency
Few
Permanent/dedicated fixtures
Hybrid fixtures
Modular fixtures
Temporary,
general purpose
fixtures
small Lot size
Figure 20 Fixtures used in different types of production.
(1)
large
76 Chapter 3
where Ca is the annual fixturing cost, M is the number of fixtures used in a
year, nr is the number of reused fixtures, and
N
nr = B
(2)
where N is the annual demand of the product and B is the batch size, Se
and S" are the fixturing-related fixed cost and variable cost, respectively, and
(3)
where C, is the initial cost of a modular system, 1'1s is the annual depreciation
rate, C
T
is the total labor cost, including fixture station management people
and other related personnel, and kT is the labor factory overhead rate.
(4)
where Co is the labor cost rate for fixture design and assembly, ts is the
fixture design and assembly time, and kd is the fixture-design labor overhead
rate.
In a steady production environment, Se and S" are usually quite stable.
Therefore, the major effects of the modular fixturing cost are the number of
fixtures and the number of reused fixtures.
3.4.2 Cost Comparison of Modular and Conventional Fixturing in
Job Production
In job production, the conventional fixturing method is to use general-pur-
pose fixture components, such chucks, vises, and clamping straps. Because
of the limited functions of these fixture components, special components
may be required for complex fixturing tasks. In this case, much time and
expense are necessary for the special component design and fabrication,
which may lead to a consideration of using modular fixtures. For some
fixturing applications, although the use of special components can be
avoided, a long time may be needed for setting the part and aligning the
machining tools with the machining surface of the part. One reason that
using modular fixtures can reduce the manufacturing cost is that the on-line
fixturing time is reduced. The on-line fixturing time includes the time re-
quired for loading/unloading parts to/from the fixture, measuring and ad-
justing part positions in the fixture for aligning with the machining tool. and
fastening operations. The time saved for one set of fixtures can be estimated
by:
Modular-Fixture Systems
77
(5)
where tfi and t
fmi
are the on-line fixturing times with a conventional method
and modular fixtures, respectively.
The total time saved becomes:
L (tr. - t
fm
;)
= ...;.;=....:.1___ _
(6)
m
where m is the number of fixturing times.
As a result of the reduction of on-line fixturing operation time, the labor
cost is also reduced. The difference is
L (tr.CrJl - trm;CoZ)
= ...:...;=...:...1_____ _
(7)
m
where COl and C
O2
are the labor cost rate for conventional and modular
fixturing, respectively, and COl C
O2
because the on-line fixturing operation
is simplified in modular fixture therefore, the requirement for
operation skill is relaxed.
The unit production savings becomes
PI'" = + (8)
where is other related cost such as machine overhead, fixture materials,
and so forth.
The annual production savings is
(9)
When the investment of modular-fixture is considered, Fig. 2 t shows the
profit from using modular fixtures, where C
g
is the fixturing cost with con-
ventional fixturing.
From an economic viewpoint, one condition for using a modular fixture
to replace the conventional fixtures is that the total cost of implementing
modular fixtures is less than using conventional fixtures over a certain time
period; that is,
78 Chapter 3
Fixturing cost
: Sv nr
-------- - ~ ~ - . - - - ~ 1----
I Sc/M
1
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - _ . Time
Figure 21 Fixturing cost comparison in job production.
(10)
where n is the number of fixtures required in production at a certain time,
which can be replaced by modular fixtures, t, is the time required for con-
ventional fixturing with general-purpose fixture components, including part
loading/unloading and measurement/adjustment, t'lll is the part loading/un-
loading time required by using modular fixtures to replace the conventional
fixturing, and C
ra
is the average cost of modular-fixture design and assembly.
3.4.3 Cost Comparison of Modular and Conventional Fixturing in
Batch Production
In batch production, either dedicated or modular fixtures are used when the
on-line fixturing time is the same because there is usually no measuring and
adjustment involved in loading parts into the fixtures. Using modular fixtures
to replace dedicated fixtures can lead to a reduction of manufacturing lead
time and production cost. The fixturing cost with dedicated fixtures can be
calculated as
(11)
where td and t" are the design and fabrication times of dedicated fixtures,
respectively, Cd and Cl' are the labor cost rate for the design and fabrication,
respectively, Cm is the material cost, including initial process cost such as
Modular-Fixture Systems
Fixturing
Cost
Figure 22 Fixturing cost comparison in batch production.
79
N
blank preparation and heat treatment, and is a fixture complexity
coefficient.
When modular fixtures are used, the fixturing cost (C
my
) can be esti-
mated by the design and assembly cost (Cd .. )' component depreciation (Cc-d)'
and special component cost (C
sp
):
( 12)
where Cd .. = t,Co<X, and C
cd
= 1.2C
fc
'Y(l + k
T
); ts is a standard time of fixture
design and assembly, <X is a complex level of fixture assembly, C) is the
labor cost rate for fixture assembly, Ct\; is the purchasing cost of fixture
components, and 'Y is the annual-depreciation rate of fixture components.
When the production condition is deterministic, the decision to use ded-
icated fixtures or modular fixtures is dependent on the annual demand (N).
If the annual demand is smaller than the break-even point, using modular
fixtures will reduce the fixturing cost, as shown in Fig. 22. Simply speaking,
the reason for applying modular fixtures in batch production is that the cost
of modular fixtures and fixture assembly is less than the cost of the design
and fabrication of dedicated fixtures:
3.5 FIXTURING MANAGEMENT WITH MODULAR-FIXTURE
APPLICATION
( 13)
There may be a variety of fixture components in a fixture (tooling) station
when using modular fixtures. Different fixture-design orders with specific
80
flXtUring
management
system
Chapter 3
lreceiving fixture design orders
dispatching fIxtw"c design orders
sending design information
nent scrap & purchasing
existing fIxtw"c design editing
Figure 23 A modular-fixturing management system.
due dates usually come from other manufacturing departments. Fixturing
information system has become a sub-information-system in CIMS. In order
to manage the fixture components and fixture designs with inventory infor-
mation and scheduling requirements, establishment of a computer-aided fix-
turing management system has become necessary for a successful applica-
tion of modular fixtures, especially in a CIMS environment. The fixturing
management system presented in this section includes the management in-
side a fixture station and communication with other manufacturing depart-
ments. The major purposes of the fixture station management are (1) to build
the maximum number of fixtures by using the minimum amount fixture
components, (2) to optimize the inventory level of fixture components, and
(3) to schedule fixture designs. Figure 23 shows the functions of the fixturing
management system.
3.5.1 Fixturing Management in Tooling Department
The fixture station management includes fixture component management,
fixture-design management, and statistic analysis.
Modular-Fixture Systems 81
(a) Fixture Component Management
In order to meet the fixture-design requirement, a certain number of fixture
components need to be in storage. The optimal number of fixture compo-
nents can be determined by considering the number of fixtures required in
a production cycle and the number of components in a fixture design. The
following equation can be used to calculate the total number of fixture com-
ponents required in a fixture station:
(14)
where k
i
is the number of fixtures required in producing part type i, I IS a
part type index, N is the number of part types in a production cycle, qi is
the number of components in a fixture design, which may be different when
using different fixture systems, tci is the time for fixture turnover (days), d
w
is working days in a production cycle, and k
t
is a coefficient related to the
variance of fixture-design requirement and component utilization, which is
usually in the range of 1.35-1.5.
In order to determine the number of each category of fixture compo-
nents, the ratio between the different categories of fixture components needs
to be examined, which is mainly affected by the complexity of the fixture
designs. The fixture configurations are simplified in dowel-pin-based mod-
ular-fixture designs. Based on a statistic analysis, a ratio coefficient (rill) can
be applied to calculating of the number (Em) of components in category m:
(15)
Table 6 is an example of the ratios of different fixture components in
machinery and aviation industries. It should be noted that different compa-
nies may need different ratio values based on their own statistic data. Ac-
cording to this information, inventory control of fixture components can be
performed.
(b) Statistic Ana(vsis
In order to obtain the information for fixturing management, the statistic
analysis needs to be conducted in production environment. The statIstIc
items are listed in Fig. 23, including the ratio of different fixture components,
component use frequency, fixture assembly statistics, and component inven-
tory form.
Table 6 Category Ratio of Fixture Components
Base plate Supporter
Machining industry 0.9-1.2 13-16
Aviation industry 1 12
Fixture component category ratio (%)
Locator Clamp Fastener Guiding element
15-16 3-4 54-57 4-6
20 5 47 10
Miscellaneous
3-4
Subunit
1-2
4
00
N
Modular-Fixture S.)'stems 83
(c) Fixture-Design Management
The items in fixture-design management are listed in Fig. 23, including
existing fixture-design editing, fixture-design recording, fixture drawing and
data management, and fixturing cost estimation.
3.5.2 Communication with Other Departments
The fixture station is a part of the manufacturing system. Fixturing infor-
mation should be integrated into CIMS, including communications with
other departments (such as CAD, CAPP, NC programming, MRP, and so
forth) and dispatch of fixture design orders. Figure 24 shows an IDEF" of
the fixturing management system. When a fixture-design request is received
at the fixturing station, fixture-design dispatching decisions are made based
on the order priority and availability of fixture-design personnel and hard-
ware and software facility. Once a fixture design is conducted, part and
process plan information is released to the fixturing station and fixture-de-
sign results are generated as (1) fixture-design drawing with a bill of ma-
communication
cell computer command
I
management
command
inquiry and response
------i communication ...... -.....;.-..;.--.....;.----
------I management /t
fixturing fixture design
request dispatching, I internal
management
command

M I: professional personnel
M
2
. hardware facilities
M3: support software
: ; ___ -LmT"ana_
g
,..em_en,..AQ2J----
I} : part design infonnation
M} M2 M3
12 : process planning infonnation
0
1
: fixture design drawing with bill of material
02 : fixture, components, and part infonnation
0
3
: fixture design record files
0
4
: results of statistic analysis
Figure 24 Fixturing management communication system.
84 Chapter 3
terials (BOM), (2) the status information of fixtures, fixture components, and
the part, (3) fixture-design record files, and (4) results of statistic analysis.
REFERENCES
Hoffman, E. G. (1991), Jig and Fixture Design, 3rd Ed., Delmar, New York.
Zhu, Y, and Zhang, S. (1990), Modular Fixtures: Theory and Application, Machin-
ery Press, Beijing.
4
Interactive COlllputer-Aided
Fixture Design
Facing a continuously increasing competition from all quarters of the globe,
manufacturing industries are undergoing a critical transition from traditional
methods to advanced manufacturing technologies, many of which are com-
puter based (Hess, 1992). In order to increase competitiveness, manufactur-
ers are seeking to improve product quality, to lower costs of production, and
to increase the speed with which innovative products can be brought to the
market.
A fixture is a device to locate and hold a workpiece during manufac-
turing operations in order to accurately produce duplicate parts. The basic
requirements of such devices are to locate and secure the workpiece in a
correct position and orientation so that the manufacturing processes can be
carried out according to design specifications (Hoffman, 1991). Fixtures are
also used to reduce the nonproduction time. Fixture design has traditionally
been a human job. Manual design is time-consuming, and redesign or mod-
ification is usually necessary even if an experienced designer is involved in
the fixture design (Nee and Kumar, 1991).
In the past decades, the manufacturing research community has focused
on developing and improving technologies such as CAD/CAM and Com-
puter-aided process planning (CAPP). Only recently, computer-aided fixture
design (CAFD) has received much attention because the fixturing activity
makes a significant contribution to production cost and cycle time. CAFD
has become an important issue in CAPP, which is the link between design
and manufacturing in a CIMS environment. As CAD/CAM systems become
established in industry, they are naturally applied to fixture designs (Chang,
1992).
85
Chapter 4
In the early years of CAFD, the designer simply used the CAD tool to
assemble the drawings on the computer screen with a database, which is a
library of standard fixture components. A graphic-based, computer fixture-
design system was developed, where users can retrieve standard fixture com-
ponents from the library and set them in the appropriate position against the
part profile (Berry, 1982). An interactive CAFD environment was developed
with a fixture component library and a menu driving the fixture assembly
sequence (Fuh et aI., 1995). Fixture assembly operations are performed by
specifying the coordinates and the rotation angle in the x-y plane, which
may not be convenient for practical applications.
Rule-based expert systems have been developed for CAFD, where a
knowledge base was accessed to answer queries from users (Markus et al..
1984; Ph am et aI., 1989). The differences between an expert system and
other software are as follows:
1. Expert systems take over activity requiring human expertise.
2. Expert systems make an organization available for the acquisition
and use of expert human knowledge.
3. Expert systems are capable of explaining and justifying solutions
and recommendations.
However, detailed fixture designs cannot be generated by using expert sys-
tems. An automated modular-fixture configuration design system has been
developed (Rong and Bai, 1995). The scientific reasoning method has the
advantage of maximizing the automation of the fixture-design process. It is
still not mature enough to be applied to complicated fixture-design tasks.
One of the most important goals of CAFD is to reduce the machining
lead time (MLT). The problems associated with the current research on
CAFD include the following: (1) Functions of automated fixture-design sys-
tems are limited and many complex fixture designs still need human inter-
action and (2) current CAFD systems using commercial CAD packages is
time-consuming as it manipulates the geometric entities around on the
screen. Therefore, further development of interactive CAFD (I-CAFD) sys-
tems is valuable for industrial applications. The purpose of developing the
I-CAFD systems is (1) to generate fixture designs with more designer in-
teraction so that more complex fixture-design tasks can be performed and,
at the same time, (2) to reduce the lead time involved in fixture design by
providing additional geometric manipulation tools.
4.1 OVERALL STRUCTURE OF THE I-CAFD SYSTEM
Figure 1 is the outline of the I-CAFD system which starts from the work-
piece input and ends up with the output of a fixture configuration design for
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
Fixture Component
Insertion and
Placement
Modular
Fixture
Element
Drawing
Database
Figure 1 The interactive computer-aided fixture-design (CAFD) system.
87
a specific setup of the workpiece. This system includes several modules and
databases: (1) a locating method selection m o u l e ~ (2) a workpiece infor-
mation retrieve module; (3) a fixture component selection m o u l e ~ (4) a
fixture component insertion and placement module; (5) a locating method
classification database; and (6) a fixture element drawing database. In this
system, a customized menu is designed and added to the standard CAD
menu to facilitate the use of I-CAFD functions, as shown in Fig. 2. "Fixture
Design" in the pull-down menu makes the system get ready to start; it loads
the needed functions and initializes the universal variables. When an item
is selected, another follow-on menu will pop-up accordingly.
Once a workpiece model is loaded into the system, a locating method
can be selected from the menu "Locating method selection." The locating
(clamping) method, locating surfaces, points, and locators (clamps) are se-
lected interactively by following the guidelines which relax the dependence
of design experience and saves design time while users can still interact with
88
RegenerBting drE!Mng.
Nlodify View
It TIA_I=E
------------------
BASEPLATE
COLUMNS ANGLES
POSITIONE RS
LOCATORS
CLAMPS
AC CESSORI ES
Chapter 4
er
Figure 2 The pull-down menu of fixture design in the CAD environment.
the design process conveniently. In this way, very complicated fixture-design
tasks can be conducted efficiently. In the locating method classification da-
tabase, all the possible locating models are classified into several types
shown as icons, which give the user a symbolic prompt, letting the user
select the locating model conveniently according to workpiece physical fea-
tures; the user does not have to have a lot of fixture-design experience.
According to the locating models, different kinds of fixture component
are classified into categories such as baseplate, locators, clamps, accessories,
and so forth, with icon menus in the fixture component selection module.
The user can then easily determine the proper fixture components to select
from the fixture component selection menu and other follow-on icon menus.
In the workpiece information retrieval module, the user can choose the
locating surface and locating points according to the locating model selected.
The information is transformed into a format suitable for fixture component
assembly manipulations.
In the fixture element insertion and placement module, when a fixture
element is selected and inserted into the system it is placed into the proper
position with surface contact and hole alignment functions provided in the
system to save the time in geometric manipulations.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
4.2 LOCATING/CLAMPING MODEL ANALYSIS AND
CLASSIFICATION
89
In fixture design, the locating method selection and locator/clamp selection
are based on the workpiece fixturing requirement analysis. This experience-
based process is very difficult to automate. When a fixture designer with
manufacturing experience conducts a fixture design, he or she may make
the selections quickly according to instructions given by the I-CAFO system.
The I-CAFO system provides an on-line menu of locating methods to help
the user in the locating method selection.
Although various fixture configurations can be found in industry, the
most widely used fixturing surfaces and locating methods are quite limited
(Rong et aI., 1993). In order to help fixture designers in the locating method
selection, a menu-driven locating method classification tree is designed
which makes the fixture design process more logical and time saving, and
requires less fixture-design experience. Figure 3 shows the diagram of lo-
cating and clamping model classifications.
The locating model is divided into three levels: (I) The locating surfaces
are classified into three main categories: plane, pin-hole, and external pro-
file, (2) the main locating methods for different surfaces are classified in
terms of the types of corresponding locating components, and (3) the locat-
ing method variations for each main locating method are considered.
The clamping method classification includes two levels: (I) all the
clamping models divided into two categories-top clamping and side
clamping-and (2) detailed clamping method variations developed for each
of the clamping categories.
The main locating methods include five main categories (Fig. 4):
1. 3-2-1 point locating (AI): Only planar surfaces are used for lo-
cating purposes.
2. One-plane and two-pin locating (A2): One main locating plane sur-
face is used for primary locating, and one inner cylindrical surface
for the secondary locating surface.
3. Long-pin locating (A3): One inner cylindrical surface is used as the
primary locating surface for four degrees of freedom (OOFs).
4. V-block locating (A4): An external cylindrical surface is used in the
primary locating direction.
5. V-pad locating (AS): An external cylindrical surface is used as the
secondary locating surface.
For each case of the main locating methods, different variations exist.
The workpiece surface may be in different positions and several different
fixture components may be used according to the workpiece surface status
90
External
Profile
Locating
3-2-1
Locating
Round &
V-block
Locating
V-pad
Locating
-+ .
Figure 3 Locating and clamping classifications.
Chapter 4
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
Al
A2
A3
A4
A5
I pJevious I
Locating model
~ e x 1
Figure 4 Main locating methods.
91
OK I Cancel I
and fixture designer's desire. According to the geometric features of work-
pieces and possible fixture components used, each locating model is divided
into more detailed locating types.
Figure 5 shows possible variations of locating type A I in Fig. 4; seven
different cases are presented. For all the cases, the three primary locating
points (or equivalent) in the Z direction constrain three DOFs: Z, a
x
, and
ay; the two secondary locating points (or equivalent) constrain two DOFs:
X (or Y) and a
z
; the one locating point constrains one DOF: Y (or X).
Type B 11 is a standard 3-2-1 locating configuration where the primary
locating surface is the bottom planar surface, and the secondary and tertiary
locating surfaces are the two side planar surfaces where the primary locating
points or secondary locating points do not have to be in the same surface
but in the same direction, as shown in Fig. 6.
Type B 12 shows that the primary locating is performed by two bottom
planar surfaces, one of them directly in contact with the workpiece and
equivalent to two locating points. The secondary locating is performed by
two points, and tertiary locating is performed by one point on side surfaces.
The two secondary locating points do not have to be on the same surface.
In the case B 13, the primary locating is performed by one bottom planar
surface directly in contact with the fixture baseplate, which is equivalent to
three locating points. The secondary and tertiary locating are the same as
BIl.
92
Bll
B12
B13
B14
B15
B16
B17
I f:'wvlom, I
Figure 5 Variations of 3 - 2 - I locating method.
Next
Chapter 4
OK I Cancel I
OK I Cancel I
Figure 6 Different locating point distributions in 3-2-1 locating (A I).
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design 93
In B 14, primary locating is performed by two parallel bars supporting
the large bottom planar surface, which is equivalent to three locating points.
The secondary and tertiary locating are the same as B I I .
Type B 15 shows a locating with an edge bar supporting both the bottom
surface and a side surface of the workpiece, which is equivalent to four
points (two in the vertical direction and two in a horizontal direction). An
additional supporting point is used in the primary locating direction and
another one is applied to the tertiary locating direction.
Type B 16 is a locating with an edge bar and a parallel bar in the bottom
surface, which is equivalent to three points in the vertical direction and two
points in a horizontal direction. The tertiary locating is performed by an
additional point.
The last case is shown in B 17, where the primary locating is the same
as B 13, the secondary locating is performed by a side bar which is equivalent
to two points, and the tertiary locating is an additional point on a vertical
surface.
Figure 7 shows possible variations of locating type A2 in Fig. 4. The
following four different cases are presented.
Case 1: B21 shows that the primary locating surface is the bottom planar
surface which is supported by the top surface of a round pin, the step sur-
faces of a step round pin, and a step diamond pin. The primary locating
constrain three DOFs of the workpiece: vertical linear movement Z and
Locating ~ I e
B21
~ ~ ~
B22
823
~
I prt'vil)US I
I
~ 1 ~ X l
I I
OK
I
I Cancel I
Figure 7 Plane-pin locating method.
94 Chapter 4
rotary movements a
x
and ay. The secondary locating is performed by the
cylindrical surface of the step round pin, which is equivalent to two points,
and constrains two horizontal linear movement (X and Y). The tertiary lo-
cating is performed by the cylindrical surface of the step diamond pin, which
is equivalent to one point and constrains al ..
Case 2: In 822, the primary locating surface is the bottom planar surface
supported by the top surface of the baseplate directly, which is equivalent
to three points, and constrains three OaFs of the workpiece: linear move-
ment Z and rotary movements a
x
and ay. The secondary locating is per-
formed by a round pin, which is equivalent to two points, and constrains
two horizontal linear movements (X and Y). The tertiary locating is per-
formed by a diamond pin, which is equivalent to one point, and constrains
Case 3: B23 is similar to B21, except a step round pin is used in contact
with a side surface of the workpiece instead of the step diamond pin in
contact with a hole surface.
Case 4: 824 is similar to 822, except a round pin is used in contact
with a side surface of the workpiece instead of the diamond pin in contact
with a hole surface.
Figure 8 shows the variations of locating type A3 in Fig. 4, which may
contain five variations: B31 to B35. The main special characteristics of these
cases are that the primary locating surface is an inner cylindrical surface
where a long pin is used to constrain four oaFs: two horizontal linear
movements (X and Y) and two rotary movements (a
x
and ay). The other
locating features are similar to the other locating methods discussed. In B31 ,
a step with the long pin is used to constrain the vertical linear movement
(Z) and another diamond pin is used for the last rotary movement (ay). In
B32, a round pin is used in contact with a side surface instead of the dia-
mond pin in B31. In B33, a top surface of a round pin is used to replace
the step with the long pin in B31. B34 is a variation of a combination of
B32 and B33 from B31. Finally, in B35, a step surface is used with the
diamond pin in the Z direction instead of with the long pin in B31.
Figure 9 shows the variations of locating type A4 in Fig. 4. In cases
B41 and B42, two V-blocks (or one long V-block) are used in contact with
the primary locating surface of the workpiece, which is an external cylin-
drical surface, to constrain four oaFs (equivalent to four points): two linear
movements (Z and Y) and two rotary movements (ay and aJ. For the other
two OaFs, different methods are used in different cases according to the
workpiece geometric features.
In cases 843 and 844, the primary locating is performed by the com-
bination of one V-block (equivalent to two points) and two other supporters
which constrain four OaFs together: two linear movements (Z and Y) and
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
B31
B32
B33.
B3-4
B35
I frevious I
Locating llPe
Next
Figure 8 Long-pin locating method.
locating type
841

842
843
844

'----
Figure 9 V-block locating method.
95
OK Cancel I

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96 Chapter 4
two rotary movements (as and ay). The remaining two DOFs, X and an are
constrained by additional pins.
Figure 10 shows the variations of locating type A5 in Fig. 4 where the
V-pad is used in contact with an external cylindrical surface of the work-
piece, which is equivalent to two points and constrains two linear move-
ments of the workpiece (X and V). The rest of the DOFs may be contained
by different combinations of other supporters.
Similar classifications can be applied to clamping. In modular-fixture
systems, the major clamping model can be divided into two categories: top
clamping and side clamping. Figure 11 shows two typical top clamps. The
strap of the clamp can be moved along the longitudinal direction and the
clamping unit can be mounted on a baseplate in any direction when the hole
alignment requirement is satisfied. The difference between the two cases is
that the position of the bolt supporter in one case is steady, and the bolt is
moved with the clamp when the position of the clamp is adjusted in the
second case.
Figure 12 shows several typical side clamps: an adjustable hex stop and
different nuzzler edge clamps. In addition to the thrusting clamp function,
the adjustable hex stop can also be used as an adjustable positive stop.
Nuzzler edge clamps have the following features: (I) a double action where
851
852
853
8501
855
856
857
I ~ e x l I
Locating type
Figure 10 V-pad locating method.
OK I Cancel I
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
cl vl
c(v2
I
Figure 11 Typical top clamps.
q81032
q33809
q33810
q33811
I prwv1t)lw I
Figure 12 Typical side clamps.
CLAMPS TYPES
97
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98 Chapter 4
an adjustable nose exerts clamping pressures both down and through a 45
angle; (2) a nose with serration for better gripping of nonfinished or semi-
finished workpieces; (3) tapered slots preventing the clamp from sliding off
the workpiece during tightening; (4) the low-profile nose providing a greater
machining clearance; and (5) the removable aluminum nose cap used to
prevent damages of the workpiece.
It should be noted that the locating and clamping method classifications
may not be unique and complete. The purpose of the classification is to
provide a structural and organizational tool for locating method selection,
which actually drives the determination process and also leads to a fixture
component selection.
4.3 FIXTURE COMPONENT SELECTION
Modular-fixture components can be divided into six categories: baseplates.
locators, clamps, supporting components, fastening components, and acces-
sories. These fixture components are stored in the form of graphic drawings
in a fixture component database in the I-CAFD system from which the fix-
ture components can be selected and inserted into the system at any time
during the fixture design. In order to make the fixture component selection
a convenient process, the I-CAFD system provides on-line graphic icon
menus to display the fixture components on screen according to their cate-
gories so that the fixture component selection can be performed. Figure 13
shows the menu of baseplates and angle plates. Figure 14 shows the menus
of locators; the locators shown in Figs. 14b and 14c can also be used as
supporters. Figure IS is an example of the menus showing clamping com-
ponents. The menu system provides an organization of the fixture component
database with a visible display, which actually drives the sequence of fixture
component selections. Because all the fixture components are graphically
displayed on screen, it is very helpful for the user to select fixture compo-
nents to construct the fixture assembly as required. When a fixture compo-
nent is selected from one of the icon menus, it is inserted into the system
and needs to be placed into a proper position.
4.4 WORKPIECE INFORMATION RETRIEVAL
When a fixture component is selected, it needs to be placed into position
with a certain assembly relationship between the fixture component and
another fixture component or the workpiece, such as surface contact, hole
alignment, and so forth. In order to assist the fixture component assembly
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
BASEPLATE E3
310-222
310-223
310-243
310-324
310-332
310-341
310-210
310-219L
I erevious I
Figure 13 Baseplates and angle plates.
OK I Cancel I
99
process, a geometric manipulation tool is developed to make it easier when
the workpiece information needs to be extracted from the CAD model and
retrieved to get the necessary information for such an assembly. The work-
piece information is defined as the information of the locating (clamping)
surfaces and locating (clamping) points. When a work piece surface or a point
is selected from the workpiece model on screen, the following information
is needed in order to conduct the fixture design: point coordinates, normal
direction of the surface at the selected point, the surface area, and the re-
lationship between the local coordinate system and universal coordinate sys-
tem. All of the information mentioned is included in the CAD model but in
its own format. Therefore, the information needs to be retrieved from the
CAD model of the workpiece to ease the fixture unit design process.
In a CAD system, all of the geometric information is relatively inde-
pendent. For example, to get the information of a surface, the following two
steps are taken: (1) get the surface ID and (2) obtain the corresponding
surface information based on the surface ID. The surface information can
be obtained in the following format: (stype perimeter face_rm surf); "stype"
represents surface type, "perimeter" represents the surface perimeter,
"face_rm" represents the rigid motion transformation matrix of the surface,
100 Chapter 4
Loe I.T')R I
El
318-033


310-0301
rrm
310-055
310-051
310-0478
310-o011T
310-130
310-169
i
mD

310-189


I erevious I
I
Next
I I
OK
I
I Cancel I
(a)
LOC '.TOR I EJ
310-020
310-030
310-031
310-032
310-035
3HHJ52
31D-053
310-058
310-062
I Previous I
(b)
Figure 14 Locators.
Next OK I Cancel I
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
10]
LOU.TOR:! El
310-069
310-010
310-015
310-141
310-144
310-145
310-152
310-192
310-193
I erevious I
(c)
Figure 14 Continued
310-164
310-150A
310-151A
310-170
310-112
310-173
310-176
310-119
310-183
I frevious I Next
Figure 15 Clamping components.
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102 Chapter 4
and "surf" represents the surface parameters which depend on the surface
type (stype). For the planar surface, "surf" represents the normal of the
surface. When a point is selected, there are two ways to accomplish infor-
mation extraction -one way is to pick up the point by using the mouse to
point the cursor directly on the plane selected in advance in the current
coordinate system [two-dimensional (2-D) point], and the other way is to
input the point coordinates directly, which can be either a 2-D or 3-D point.
An example is given to illustrate the above statements. In Fig. 16, the
highlighted surface is selected and the information is acquired in the follow-
ing way:
(setq fid (ap_seLface
(setq finfo (ap_geLfaceinfo fid
"fid" represents the surface ID, and the format is (objecLid face_id) which
is (1.58946 e + 006 1.0) in this example; "objecLid" is the ID of the
object, and "face_id" is the surface series number on the object. "finfo"
represents the information of the selected surface, and each parameter of the
surface is presented as follows:
stype = 0, which means the surface is a planar surface
perimeter = 20.0, which means the perimeter of the surface is 20.0
w
v
u
z
p
x y
Figure 16 An example of work piece information retrieval.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
[
0.952255 0.21572 -0.216047
0.155416 -0.951601 -0.265144
face_rm = -0.262787 0.218908 -0.939693
0.27238 11.0736 0.402933
surf = (-0.262787 0.218908 -0.939693)
0.0]
0.0
0.0
1.0
103
If point P is selected on the surface, we have to use the CAD command
to change the coordinate system to the selected surface and pick up the point
using the mouse or input the coordinate values of the point at the changed
coordinate system using the keyboard.
Although the information extraction may be different when different
CAD systems are used (in the example, AutoCAD commands are used), the
principle and procedure of this process is quite similar. From the above
description, it is seen that the information of the point position is not directly
related to the surface information on which the point is located. However,
in J-CAFD, all the information related to the selected points are needed and
they should be converted to a proper format. To meet the requirements of
I-CAFD, workpiece information retrieval needs to be conducted. A study of
the coordinate transformation matrix is necessary to retrieve the workpiece
information.
Figure 17 shows the relationship between the universal coordinate sys-
tem (UCS) and the local coordinate system (LCS) of one object (or a fixture
component). The coordinate system x-y-z is the UCS, and the coordinate
system u-v-w is the LCS based on the selected surface (highlighted line
z
Position 1
v
x
y
Position 2
v
u
Figure 17 Relationship between UCS and LCS.
104 Chapter 4
loop surface) of the object. The object in positions 1 and 2 is the same
object in different positions and orientations. Position 1 represents the orig-
inal position of the object before the position change, and position 2 rep-
resents the target position of the object after the position change.
Let the coordinates (XI' YI, ZI) in LCS represent a selected point on the
selected surface. (xtl< Ytl, Ztl) and (X
t
2, Yt2, Z(2) represent its position in UCS
before and after the position change, respectively. The normal vector of the
surface in UCS can be obtained any time without a complicated retrieval
process. Let (n
tlx
, n
tly
, ntlz) and (n
t
2x, n
t
2y, n
t2
J represent the corresponding
unit normal vectors of the selected surface at the selected point in UCS, as
shown in Fig. 18.
The original position and orientation of a fixture component indexed by
i and defined by a LCS in the UCS can be expressed by the following matrix:
(I)
where x;, y;, and Z; represent the offset of the LCS original point from the
UCS original point, and ak;, b
k
;, and c
k
;, k = x, y, or z, are the directional
cosines defining the orientation of the object in UCS (i.e., the angles a
x
, ay,
and a; between LCS and UCS).
Similarly, the position matrix for the object after the movement can be
expressed by
z
x
y
Figure 18 An illustration of vector directional cosines.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
a,." 0]
C
n
,
C,j'
Zi' I
105
(2)
Using Ml, M2, and (Xl> Yl> ZI)' we can calculate the value of (x
tl
, Ytl,
ZtI) and (x
t2
, Yt2, Z(2):
(3)
Based on the above discussion, a simple but efficient workpiece infor-
mation retrieval method is implemented using the following steps:
1. Select the surface directly using customized CAD commands
interactively.
2. Establish an LCS attached to the selected surface automatically (co-
ordinate u-v-w in Fig. 17).
3. Select the point on the selected surface using the customized com-
mand interactively.
4. Make the data structure of the point and surface information at the
selected point position based on the LCS by adding the LCS value
PI(x\, Yh z\) to the data structure. The data structure takes the format
(stype perimeter face_rm surf PI)'
5. Transfer the data from the LCS to the UCS and keep the LCS data
at the same time.
6. Recalculate the data of the selected point and surface in UCS based
on the LCS value for the unit design change whenever the position
of the workpiece is changed
For the example in Fig. 16, we assume that the position of the point in
LCS is P( -1.3289, -1.5240, 0.0) and the corresponding coordinates of P
in UCS will be (2.9302, 10.1378, -0.2787). All P values will be added to
the newly established data structure, which will be used in the fixture com-
ponent assembly manipulation.
4.5 FIXTURE COMPONENT ASSEMBLY MANIPULATION
When a fixture component is selected and inserted into the I-CAFD system,
it needs to be placed in the proper position, where the surface contact and
hole alignment condition with another fixture component or the workpiece
106 Chapter 4
should ensured. A fixture component assembly manipulation tool is developed
in addition to and used with the standard CAD functions to reduce the geo-
metric manipulation time. There are two main functions in the fixture com-
ponent insertion and manipulation: (I) add fixture components into the system
and (2) move and orient the fixture components to the desired position.
The addition of the fixture components is implemented by using the
mouse to pick the corresponding pull-down menu (customized CAD pull-
down menu as shown in Fig. 2 and other fixture components shown in Sect.
4.3) accessing the suitable fixture components from the fixture component
drawing database. The CAD model of the fixture component will be dis-
played on screen, which needs to be placed in the proper position in the
fixture design.
When a fixture component is to be assembled onto another fixture com-
ponent, two basic functions are necessary: hole-hole alignment and hole-
slot alignment. In both functions, the surface contact and against is essential
and must be satisfied first. The hole-hole alignment is used for mating two
fixture components with a hole in one fixture component aligned to a hole
in another fixture component while the contact surfaces of the two fixture
components are kept an against relationship. When the contact surfaces and
the two holes are manually specified by using a mouse, the two fixture
components will be automatically assembled together by moving and rotat-
ing one of the fixture component in a such way that the normal direction
becomes parallel but opposite the normal direction of the other fixture com-
ponent and the two hole axes are in the same direction. The hole-slot align-
ment is used for mating two fixture components when a slot in one fixture
component is required to align with a hole in the other fixture component.
In addition to the contact surfaces and a pair of hole-slot alignments spec-
ified, it is required to identify the orientation and position of the fixture
component with the slot. Figure 19 shows two examples corresponding to
the two functions.
The following examples are given to illustrate the process of the hole-
hole and hole-slot alignments. Figure 20 shows the case of moving a group
of objects from one position (a hole center) to another, which is a typical
application of the hole-hole alignment function. The manipulation process
is implemented using the following steps:
I. Select all the fixture components that need to be moved.
2. Obtain and store the current object snap status (OS) and set the
object snap to "circle."
3. Pick a hole center a and the relative point b from the baseplate or
another fixture component.
4. Construct the transformation matrix M
t
based on the coordinates
(x"' yJ and (XI>, Yl'
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design 107
Multi-surface tower Surface and edge bar Adjustable locating bar
Large console
Hole-hole alignment Hole-slot alignment
Figure 19 Two basic functions of fixture component placement manipulation.
5. Move all the selected fixture components to the target position ac-
cording to Mt.
6. Restore OS.
In the entire process, only Steps 1 and 2 are conducted interactively by
the user and all the other steps are performed automatically. Figure 21 shows
another example of the application of the hole-hole alignment function.
Figure 22 shows another example for an application of the hole-slot
function where an adjustable bar is used for a locating purpose. The slot in
the adjustable bar needs to be aligned to a hole on the baseplate or another
fixture component and the locating point is usually specified to a particular
position in contact with the workpiece surface. The implementation process
includes the following steps:
Figure 20 Example I: application of the hole- hole alignment function.
J08 Chapter 4
--+
Figure 21 Example 2: application of the hole-hole alignment function.
1. Select all the fixture components that need to be aligned
2. Select the planar reference surface that is going to be aligned where
the surface information (position and orientation matrix M 1) is au-
tomatically identified
3. Select reference points a and b (on surface 2) that decide the align-
ment position and orientation of the adjustable bar and establish an
LCS based on the reference surface, points a and b
4. Similarly, repeat Steps 2 and 3 for the target reference surface on
the baseplate or the other fixture component, and establish another
LCS and obtaining matrix M2
Adjustable bar
Figure 22 Example 3: application of the hole-slot alignment function.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design 109
5. Construct the transformation matrix M( based on M I, M2, and the
two LCSs
6. Reposition and orient the fixture elements to the desired position.
Figure 23 shows another example of the hole-slot alignment application
where an angle plate is used in a vertical direction.
Once fixture components are inserted to the system and placed into
position satisfying assembly relationships (i.e., hole-hole and hole-slot
alignments), the workpiece needs to be moved to ensure the contact with
functional surfaces of the fixture components (locators, clamps, and sup-
porters). To assist in the manipulation of the workpiece model, the following
functions are developed in the I-CAFD system: edge bar contact and cylin-
drical surface contact.
The edge bar is a very common kind of fixture component for locating
functions. The typical use of this component is to align the straight edge of
a workpiece with the inner edge of the edge bar. The edge bar contact
function is developed to move the workpiece to a contact position with the
edge bar, which is implemented in the following steps (Fig. 24):
I. Select all the fixture components that need to be moved
2. Select the straight edge la of the workpiece that needs to be aligned
and the edge lb of the edge bar that is to be aligned where the
following information of both edges will be automatically extracted
from the CAD models of the workpiece and the edge bar: edge ID,
edge orientation, and the normal (Na and N
h
) of the vertical surface
which is adjacent to the edge
3. Pick point a from the edge la and b from the edge I"
4. Construct the transformation matrix based on Na and NI>, and the
coordinates (xa, Ya, za) and (Xb' Yb, Zb)
Figure 23 Example 4: application of the hole-slot alignment function.
110 Chapter 4
a
b
Figure 24 Example 5: application of edge contact function.
5. Move and orient all the selected fixture components to the position.
In the whole process, only the picking up of the edges and points are done
manually by user. All the other steps are performed automatically.
Aligning a part with a box corner to the fixture component "Inside
Corner Edge Block" is similar to the case of the edge bar contact, which
can be done with an extension of the edge bar contact function. The user
only needs to select the objects and edges that need to be aligned, and all
the objects will be aligned immediately. Figure 25 shows the example of
the corner edge bar contact.
To align a cylindrically shaped part with V-blocks is difficult using stan-
dard CAD commands. The user must perform complicated calculations or
auxiliary geometry. By using the cylindrical contact function, the user only
needs to select three edges for the alignment and finish the complicated
Figure 25 Example 6: application of corner edge contact function.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design III
Figure 26 Example 7: application of cylindrical contact function.
work. The cylindrical contact function is implemented in the following steps
(Fig. 26):
1. Select circular edge Ec of the workpiece and obtain the following
information: object ID, edge ID, coordinates of the center point, and
radius of Ec
2. Select the straight edges S, and S2, and obtain the start and end
points of each edge
3. Based on Steps 1 and 2, four possible target moving points (0" O
2
,
0." 0
4
) for the cylindrical part are identified (Fig. 27), where only
the highlighted circle with both solid lined edges S, and S2 should
be selected as the workpiece position
4. Determine the position of the solid circle of the workpiece.
Sometimes the cylindrical surface of the workpiece may have contacts
with two round pins instead of a V-block, especially when the radius of the
cylindrical surface is large. The cylindrical contact function can be applied
as shown in Fig. 28, where the step locators are used to locate the external
cylindrical surface of the workpiece. In this case, two circular edges are
.' 0 3 ....
;._ ..... \. 0."

SI __ ((.02)
.. . ........
0
1
Figure 27 Four possible positions of the workpiece in cylindrical contact.
JJ2 Chapter 4
Figure 28 Example 8: application of external pin-cylindrical contact function.
used instead of two straight edges, and only two possible results are pre-
sented (Fig. 29). Both the broken-line circles and highlighted-line circle are
possible and can be decided by the user interactively.
Similar to Fig. 28, the round pins can be placed in contact with inner
cylindrical surfaces too, as shown in Fig. 30, where two possible positions
can be identified to locate the workpiece (Fig. 31) and the user needs to
determine which is the one desired .
. '
Figure 29 Two possible workpiece positions in external pin cylindrical contact.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
113
Figure 30 Example 9: application of internal pin-cylindrical contact function.
All the functions described above are developed using CAD interface
programs. Although some functions can be implemented using standard
CAD commands, the application of the functions shown above will reduce
the manipulation time significantly. The functions can be developed with
different CAD packages with the same principle and procedure. Further de-
velopment of the system can be carried out and new functions can be added
to the system according to the customers' special requirements. The mod-
ular-fixture systems may contain different types of fixture components, but
the CAD functions are valid for most fixture components.
Figure 31 Two possible workpiece positions in internal pin cylindrical contact.
114 Chapter 4
4.6 IMPLEMENTATION EXAMPLE OF THE I-CAFD SYSTEM
In this section, an example is given to illustrate the implementation of the
I-CAFD system. Figure 32 shows a virtual part to be machined in a hori-
zontal milling machine where the modular fixture is applied to locate and
hold the workpiece. The 3-2-1 locating method is used with planar sur-
faces. In Fig. 32, inner cylinder surfaces Cl> C
2
, C
3
, and Col and planar
surfaces PI and P
z
are the machining surfaces for a specific setup. Planar
surfaces V I> V 2, and V:.; are chosen as locating surfaces in the vertical di-
rection; surfaces HI> H
2
), and Hn are used as the horizontal locating surfaces.
When a suitable locating model is selected from the locating method
selection menu, the locating units design is first carried out according to the
geometric features of the workpiece. Once a specified locating model is
selected (in this example, locating models A I and B 11 are selected, as shown
in Figs. 4 and 5), the corresponding unit design model will be activated. For
the design process, the following procedure is recommended: (I) vertical
locating units design, (2) horizontal locating units design, and (3) clamping
design.
r"
I
!
-. 1/>'
\/ /--\
v/ \ _
Cl ~ "</
C
2
1 ,-
" "<
/.-'''- J ~ > . . ./
V
2
"-....
C
3
't'.,
V3
Figure 32 A virtual workpiece model.
c.
,
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design 115
The first step of the vertical locating unit design is to specify locating
surface/point and to select fixture components. Figure 33 shows the selected
surfaces and points for the vertical locating design, where three locating
surfaces with a locating point on each surface are interactively selected step
by step (first surface and the point on it, second surface and the point on it,
and so on). When a surface (which is highlighted) is selected, a point can
be picked up only within the surface. For each selected surface, a surface
position matrix Mi (i = 1, 2, 3) is obtained, and an LCS is established with
the surface. The coordinates of each point are obtained in the LCS and kept
as universal variables. According to the surface transformation matrix Mi
and the coordinates in the LCS, the UCS coordinates of each point are
calculated.
After choosing each locating surface and locating point, a locator and
other fixture components can be selected from the fixture component selec-
tion menu. To show the variability and flexibility, three different locators
are chosen for vertical locating. For a specific locator, different fixture com-
ponents can be selected to support the locator, based on the minimum height
of the workpiece, which is usually required for a clearance between the
workpiece and the cutter. Figure 34 shows vertical locating units with dif-
ferent heights. Once a fixture component is selected and inserted into the
system, the fixture component assembly manipulation functions can be ap-
plied to build up fixture units and move the workpiece to keep in contact
with the locators. Finally, the workpiece position is adjusted in the Z direc-
z
x y
Figure 33 The selected vertical locating surfaces and points.
1/6 Chapter 4
"
T
I I
I '
I
,
r
I
t I i 11 I
I I !
I ' '. e
1"I .. jL
I
1
l1J"
'I
!
rf
r
I
(a) (b)
(c)
Figure 34 Vertical locating units with different heights.
tion to keep the contacts with the locators in the vertical locating units.
Figure 35 shows the result of the vertical locating unit design.
The horizontal locating unit design process is similar to the vertical
locating unit design process. Figure 36 shows the selected locating surfaces
(highlighted) and points (PI and P
2
) in the X direction; Fig. 37 shows the
selected locating surface and point in Y direction. After the selection of each
locating surface and point, a corresponding locator is selected from the fix-
ture component selection menu. For a specific locator, different fixture com-
ponents can be selected to support the locator so that the height requirement
of the fixture unit can be satisfied. Figure 38 shows several horizontal lo-
cating units with different fixture unit heights, where Figs. 38a, 38b, 38c,
and 38d are for round locators, and Fig. 38e is for the adjustable hex stop.
For the fixture unit height consideration, Fig. 38a is especially for the low
locating profile, Figs. 38b and 38c are the same height and adjustable in the
locating direction, Fig. 38d can fit a wide range of height requirements, and
Fig. 38e can be adjusted to any discrete height according to different spacers.
In order to meet the hole alignment requirement, three variations exist
for round locators: (1) fix the fixture unit like Fig. 38a and move the work-
piece along the locating direction of the round locator to keep in contact
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
Figure 35 The vertical locating design.
x
p..,
~
y
117
Figure 36 The selected horizontal locating surfaces and points in the X direction.
1J8
Chapter 4
x y
Figure 37 The selected horizontal locating surface and point in the Y direction.
Spaccr
(d)
(e)
Figure 38 Horizontal locating units with different heights.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design 119
with the locator; (2) fix the workpiece and use spacers to adjust the align-
ment between the workpiece and fixture unit (Fig. 38c); (3) fix the workpiece
and use the adjustable components to align the workpiece and fixture unit
(Figs. 38b and 38c).
When two locators are used in one direction, a fixed fixture unit is used
and the workpiece can be moved if necessary, and then an adjustable fixture
unit should be applied to ensure the locating contact. Figure 38d is an ap-
plication example where one round pin locator is fixed and the other is
adjustable in the locating direction. Figure 39 shows the result of the hori-
zontal and vertical locating design.
In most cases, only top and side clampings are used in modular-fixture
design. The clamping design is similar to the locating design, where locating
is to constrain the movement OOFs for a precise location of the workpiece,
whereas clamping is used to secure the locating in the entire manufacturing
process. In clamping design, a certain amount of adjustable distances needs
to be considered for clamping and unclamping operations, whereas the po-
sition and orientation accuracy of a clamping unit may not be very
important.
In the clamping unit design, the clamping surface and point is selected
first. The symbolic clamp prompt allows the user to select the suitable
clamping style (top or side clamping). Figure 40 shows the selected surface
and points for the top clamping design. The actual design process is per-
formed once for each clamping point. Then, a clamp is selected from the
Figure 39 The horizontal and vertical locating design.
120 Chapter 4
+u
Figure 40 The selected top clamping surfaces and points.
Figure 41 Typical top clamping units.
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
121
x y
p
Figure 42 The selected side clamping surface and point.
(a)
(b)
Figure 43 Typical side clamping units.
122
Figure 44
Figure 45
It of locating and c The resu
~ .
28"
lamping design.
- . I te size.
h basep a
. . n of t e
The detennmatlO
Chapter 4
~ r
20"
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design
123
Figure 46 The finished fixture configuration.
fixture component selection menu. To show the variability and flexibility,
two different clamps are chosen in this example. Based on the clamping
point selected, the height of the clamping unit is determined. Different sup-
porters can be selected for the different height requirements, whereas the
actual clamping height is always adjustable in a certain range. Figure 41
shows two top clamping units; Fig. 41 b is more versatile for hole alignment.
Several different heights of clamp riser are available for the fixture unit
combinations to meet the height requirement. When the clamping compo-
nents are selected and inserted into the system, fixture assembly manipula-
tion functions can be applied to place them into position.
The side-clamping unit design process is the same as the top clamping
unit design process. Figure 42 shows the selected surface and point for the
top clamping design. Figure 43 shows two typical side-clamping units with
different heights; Fig. 43a is for the lower unit profile and Fig. 43b is for
the higher profile. Several heights of extenders in Fig. 43b are available for
the fixture unit combination in order to met the height requirement. The
direction of the side-clamping unit can be in any direction in the X - Y plane
and perpendicular to the workpiece surface. Figure 44 shows the result of
the locating and clamping design.
To save the operation time of fixture-design display, the baseplate is
inserted into the system in the last step, where the necessary size of the
baseplate can be estimated. The hidden line rectangle in Fig. 45 shows the
approximate size of the baseplate required. Then, the baseplate can be se-
lected from the fixture component selection menu. Figure 46 shows the result
124
0 0 ' ') 0 0 0 0 0
0
Cl U
I ~ _ )
0 Cl 0
()
0
0 u c 0
0
0 0
<)
n 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Cl 0

(j
0
C)
0
0 c
(l
,
()
I'
f)
0
(>
0
(>
n
0 0 0
Cl ()
0 0 0
(j
0
0 0
()
0 0
('
0 0
()
c
)
0 0 n
(J
0 0
(]
0
0 0
o 0 0 0 0
<) (1
0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0
~ o o
Cl 0 0
0 o 0 0 0 0
0
0
Cl
(]
Cl
t-
0 0 0 0 0 0
()
0 0 0 0 0
0
~ ) o
0 0 0
0 o 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0
0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
0 0
()
0
0 0
()
0 0
0
0 0
0 0
n
()
0 0
u
Top
View
Front
Right
View
Figure 47 Different views of the finished fixture configuration.
Chapter 4
Interactive Computer-Aided Fixture Design 125
of the entire fixture configuration in three dimensions and Fig. 47 shows
different views of the finished fixture configuration.
REFERENCES
Barry, D. C. (1982), Application of CAD/CAM to Fixture Design, in 1st Biennial
International Machine Tool Technology Conference, Chicago, IL, pp. 43-66.
Chang, C. H. (1992), Computer-assistant Fixture Planning for Machining Processes,
Manufacturing Review, Vol. 5, No. I, pp. 15-28.
Fuh, J. Y. H., A. Y. C. Nee, A. Senthil Kumar, and J. C. S. Teo (1995), IFDA: An
Interactive Fixture Design and Assembly Environment, International Journal
of Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 8, No. 112, pp. 30-40.
Hess, G. J. (1992), Best Practice for Manufacturing Excellence beyond CIMS, in
CASA/SME Conference, East Moline, IL.
Hoffman, E. G. (1991), Jig and Fixture Design, 3rd Ed., Delmar, New York.
Markus, A., E. Markusek, J. Farkas, and J. Filemon (1984), Fixture Design Using
Prolog: an Expert System, Robotics and CIMS, Vo!. I, No. 2, pp. 167 -172.
Nee, A. Y. C., and A. S. Kumar (1991), A Framework for an Object/Rule-based
Automated Fixture Design System, Annals of the CIRP, pp. 147-151.
Pham, D. T., M. J. Nategh, and A. S. de Lazoro (1989), A Knowledge-based Jig and
Fixture Designer's Assistant, International Journal of Advanced Manufactur-
ing Technology, No. 4, pp. 26-45.
Rong, Y., and Y. Bai (1995), Automated Generation of Modular Fixture Configura-
tion Design, in ASME Design Automation Conference, Boston MA, pp. 681 -
688.
Rong, Y., J. Zhu, and S. Li (1993), Fixturing Feature Analysis for Computer-aided
Fixture Design, in Intelligent Design & Manufacturing, ASME WAM, New
Orleans, LA, PED Vol. 64, pp. 267-271.
5
Group-Technology-Based
COlllputer-Aided Fixture
Design
Flexible fixturing is an important issue in flexible manufacturing systems
(FMS) and computer-integrated manufacturing systems (CIMS). Application
of modular fixtures is a solution of flexible fixturing. One major difficulty
in applying modular fixtures in industry is the complexity of their design
and assembly. This chapter presents a group-technology-(GT) based modu-
lar-fixture design method. The method is based on a fixturing structure anal-
ysis. Based on the analysis, it is pointed out that the locating method and
part geometry dominate the fixture structure, and the surface feature analysis
is a key issue in determining the locating method. Therefore, the fixturing
requirement accomplished with a part design and manufacturing plan is iden-
tified through a fixturing feature identification scheme where the part geo-
metric, operational, and fixturing information are recognized. The fixturing
information is represented in three levels: surfaces (machining, locatable,
and clamping surfaces), surface features, and interrelationships between the
surfaces. A fixturing feature extraction scheme with a flexible code structure
is used to acquire the information from the part design and manufacturing
plan. This scheme can be applied to a computer-aided fixture design (CAFD)
system with the retrieval approach.
5.1 INTRODUCTION
Fixtures are required to locate and hold a workpiece in machining processes
so that the machining accuracy can be ensured. Flexible fixturing is an im-
portant issue in FMS and CIMS. Modular fixtures are the most widely used
126
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
127
flexible fixtures in industry (Trappey and Lin, 1990). Modular-fixture design
and assembly is a complex and highly experience-dependent task, which
impedes further applications of the modular fixtures. As the development of
numerical control (NC) techniques and machining centers, the fixture con-
figurations have been greatly simplified. Some functions are performed by
controlling the motions of the NC machines (Rong et aI., 1993). These
functions are required for ensuring the relative positions of the machining
tool and the work piece during a machining process and used to be performed
through fixturing (e.g., guiding and angular locating functions). On the other
hand, the development of computer-aided design (CAD) techniques reveals
a bright future of the CAFD systems and their applications in FMS and
CIMS (Nee, et aI., 1991).
There are basically three research approaches for CAFD. The first one
is to develop rule-based (or knowledge-based) expert systems to automati-
cally select fixturing surfaces and fixture components (Markus, 1988; Fer-
reira et aI., 1985; Nee and Senthil Kumar, 1991; Nnaji et aI., 1990; Pham
and de Sam Lazaro, 1990; Miller and Hannam, 1985). The second one is to
generate fixture plans and designs based on a kinematic analysis (Bausch
and Youcef-Toumi, 1990; Asada and By, 1985; Chou et aI., 1989; Mani and
Wilson, 1988; Menassa and DeVories, 1991). The third approach of CAFD
is applying the group technology (GT) principle to develop fixture-design
assistant programs with graphics tools for finding a similar design from
existing fixture designs and retrieving it to obtain a new design (Berry, 1982;
Grippo et aI., 1987; Rong and Zhu, 1992). In these approaches, the fixturing
feature extraction based on the part design and manufacturing plan is fun-
damental for success in CAFD.
There are mainly three types of representation of part design informa-
tion. The first one is geometric mode ling of a mechanical part, which is
complex and currently only feasible for simple parts. Once a geometric
model is built, the fixturing features still need to be identified from the
model. The second type of represention is using symbolic expressions, which
have been utilized in several expert-system-based fixture-design systems.
This method spreads vague information and contains no checks on incom-
pleteness, contradiction, and redundancy. The third type of represention is
using coding systems which provide a tool for quantitative similarity com-
parison but no detail information is presented and is not adaptable for simple
and complex parts because of the fixed code length. There is no fixturing
information represented in most of the current coding systems. In our earlier
exploration, two coding systems were developed with fixture-design infor-
mation (Rong and Zhu, 1992; Chen, 1989, Rong et aI., 1992). Tables 1 and
2 sketch two coding systems: KJBM and CODFIX, respectively. The prob-
lems involved in application of the coding systems are as follows: (1) there
128 Chapter 5
Table 1 The KJBM Coding System
Identification code Major code Supplementary code
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 II 12 13 14
P F F D P P H P L C P P P W
A I I E A A 0 L 0 L A A A 0
R X X S R R L A C A R R R R
T T T I T T E N A M T T T K
U U G E T P
N R R N C S P I I L W H M
U E E E L H R P N N E E A
M R A A 0 R G G N D T
B N N S P C 0 G T G E
E A U S E E C F F T H H R
R M M S E 0 0 H T
E B S S R R A
E I S M M L
R N I
G N
G
is not enough detailed information presented for fixture-design similarity
identification and (2) the fixture-design information is usually available after
the fixture is designed, which is desired to describe the fixturing requirement
for fixture-design generation. In this chapter, a fixturing feature analysis is
conducted, which can be used to construct a workpiece fixturing requirement
identification scheme for similar fixture-design search/retrieval and fixture
design such as locating method and surface selections.
5.2 FIXTURE-DESIGN PROCESS ANALYSIS
The fixture design is a decision-making process. Figure I shows a block
diagram of a fixture-design system which includes information input, the
decision-making process, and fixture-design output. The input information
of the fixture-design system is the part design and manufacturing plan in-
formation. The decision variables are determinations of a locating and
clamping method, fixture component selections, and a fixture-design config-
uration. The output is an assembly drawing of the fixture design with a
component list. Typical procedures of fixture design include five steps: part
design review, datum selection, locating method determination, clamping
Table 2 The CODFIX Coding System
Geometry information Fixturing feature Operational information Tolerances Quantity
Length Width Height Clamping Annual
Shape (in.) (in.) (in.) CD LP LH feature Operation Materials MRR D-Tol. F-Tol. demand
0 Cylin. 0-1 0-1 0-1 None None None None of the None of the VV 0.0000- 0.0000- 00-60
below below mimimal 0.00003 0.0003
Cubic 1-2 1-2 1-2 I
11
to primary I CP Mill SuperaUoy V minimal 0.0003- 0.0003- 60-120
datum 0.0006 0.0006
2 Long 2-3 2-3 2-3 2 2 > I 11 to primary I CH Grind Alloy steel Minimal 0.0006- 0.0006- 120-240
datum 0.0012 0.0012
Flat 3-4 3-4 3-4 3 3 I ..1 to primary >1 CP Shape Plain carbon Moderate 0.0012- 0.0012- 240-600
datum steel 0.0024 0.0024
4 4-6 4-6 4-6 > 1 ..1 to primary >1 CH Drill Cast iron Large 0.0024- 0.0024- 600-1200
datum 0.0050 0.0050
5 6-8 6-8 6-8 I CH& I Broach Composite V large 0.0050- 0.0050- 1,200-3,000
CP 0.0100 0.0100
6 8-12 8-12 8-12 1 CH& Turn Copper VV. large 0.0100- 0.0100- 3,000-6,000
>1 CP alloy 0.0200 0.0200
7 12-20 12-20 12-20 >2 CP Bore Aluminum 0.0200- 0.0200- 6,000-
alloy 0.0400 0.0400 16,000
20-40 20-40 20-40 2 CH Weld Other non- 0.0400- 0.0400- 16,000-
with Fe 0.1000 0.1000 32,000
CP
9 >40 >40 >40 Others Heat treat Plastic or >0.100 >0.100 >32,000
wood
........
N
\0
130 Chapter 5
Figure 1 Fixture-design process.
method selection, and fixture configuration design. Experts start a fixture
design by reviewing the part design and manufacturing plan information and
thinking of a previously designed, similar fixture structure. Therefore, the
presentation of such information is essentially important in a CAFD system.
In the fixture design, the locating accuracy is the most important perfor-
mance because the major purpose of a fixture design is to provide a fixture
configuration that can ensure the machining quality in manufacturing pro-
cesses. Therefore, the determination of a locating method is a dominant task
in the fixture-design process. The datum selection is for the locating method
determination to guarantee the locating accuracy satisfied for ensuring the
machining accuracy requirement (Bai and Rong, 1996). The selection of
clamping structure is also dominated by the locating method because, ac-
cording to the fixture-design principle, the clamping force should be placed
against the locators (Hoffman, 1991). Finally, the fixture configuration is
basically dependent on the locating method and geometric types of the work-
piece (Rong et aI., 1993). If we look at locating methods, three types of
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design 131
locating surface are applied to five basic locating methods and their varia-
tions, which can be found in more than 90% of fixture designs (Figs. 2 and
3). These surfaces, which can be used as locating surfaces, are defined as
locatable surfaces, including locatable plane surfaces, concentric internal
surfaces (holes), and external profiles. In applications of modular fixtures,
the most frequently used locating components (locators) are top locating
pins, side locating pins (or mandrels), and V-blocks. The basic locating
methods are 3-plane locating (3-2-1), I-plane and 2-hole locating, mandrel
locating, V-pad locating, and V-block locating. In order to determine a 10-
workpiece
(a) Locatable plane surface
locatable internal surface
workpiece
locator
(b) Locatable concentric internal surface
locatable external profile
(c) Locatable external profile surface
Figure 2 Basic types of locatable surfaces.
132
Chapter 5
Secondary locating surface
, Tertiary locating surface
/
/

(a) 3-2-1 plane locating method
-- Concentric Locator
(b) Plane and pin-hole locating method
(c) Mandrel locating method Vee pad
Veeblock
(d) V -pad and V -block locating
Figure 3 Basic locating methods.
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design 133
cating method, the locatable surfaces need to be analyzed and identified from
the part design.
5.3 FIXTURE STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
There are three aspects of fixture design (Rong et aI., 1996): setup planning,
fixture planning (determining locating/clamping methods), and fixture con-
figuration generation. The final result of fixture design is a fixture structure
configuration. A fixture structure can be decomposed into four levels-over-
all fixture structure, functional (or elementary) unit, fixture component, and
functional surface. Figure 4 is a sketch of the fixture structure. A fixture
component with a certain spatial order and configuration constructs the over-
all fixture structure. An overall fixture structure consists of several functional
units, including locating (e.g., 3-2-1 locating, plane-hole locating, etc.),
clamping (e.g., top strap, side strap, etc.), and other constructing units; a
fixture unit is composed of several fixture components; and there may be
several functional surfaces on a component. Mathematically, the decompo-
sition of a fixture structure can be expressed as
(1)
where F is the overall fixture structure, C
nj
is a functional unit vector indi-
fixture
structure
functional
units
fixture
components
Figure 4 Fixture structure in four levels.
functional
surfaces
134 Chapter 5
cating the orientation and position of the unit relative to the baseplate, Dom'
is a fixture component vector with position and orientation in the unit and
all necessary geometric information in a local coordinate system, and P oll1kt
is a functional surface vector for a fixture component, including the infor-
mation on function type and necessary geometric information in the locating
coordinate system. n is a functional unit index, j is a functional unit type
index, m is a fixture component index (sequence in a functional unit), 1 is
a fixture component type index, k is a functional surface index for a fixture
component, and t is a functional surface type index.
In this expression, the fixture structure is modeled with spatial relation-
ships among fixture units, components, and surfaces. When the fixture com-
ponents are put in a specific order with a certain configuration, an overall
fixture structure is generated. The functional units can be classified as lo-
cating methods or locating directions. For example, using the locating di-
rection, there are bottom locating units, side locating units, bottom-side (or
edge) locating units, top clamping units, side clamping units, bottom sup-
porting units, side supporting units, bottom-side supporting units, and so
forth. In the second level, a functional unit can be composed of essential
fixture components, and in the third level, fixture components also consist
of functional surfaces such as plane locating surfaces, the internal locating
surface, the external profile, the clamping surfaces, and so forth. Only the
functional surfaces are in contact with the workpiece surfaces.
When the part geometry and fixturing requirement information are iden-
tified from the part design, the fixture design process becomes a search for
a match between fixturing requirements and the fixture structure, where the
interface between the workpiece and the fixtures are the locating/clamping
surfaces of the workpiece and the functional surfaces of fixture components.
Figure 5 shows a block diagram representing the fixture-design process. It
is clear that the analysis of surfaces and surface features of the workpiece
are the basis of fixture designs.
5.4 FIXTURING FEATURE ANALYSIS
As discussed earlier, three types of information are required for fixture de-
signs (either by modifying existing designs or generate new designs): part
geometry, operational information, and fixturing feature information. This
information needs to be identified in the first stage of fixture design. In the
fixturing feature information, the locatable surfaces of a workpiece are most
important and need to be identified from the part design. Table 3 is an overall
representation of the information identified from the part design and man-
ufacturing plan.
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
part design with
manufacturing
plan
fixture
design
Figure 5 Fixture-design matching approach.
5.4.1 Part Geometric Information
/35
fixture structure
Part geometry is one of the basic information for fixture design. However,
not all details of the part geometry are necessary to be identified. The fixture-
design-related part geometric information includes the shape type and overall
dimensions. The shape types of nonrotational part processed in machining
centers can be classified as plate type (flat), bar, box type (block), and
bracket type. For different part shapes, the fixture structures are usually quite
different. The overall dimensions of the part are the major consideration for
Table 3 Part Design and Manufacturing Plan
Part geometry Operational information Fixturing information
I. Shape type I. Machining accuracy I. Machining surfaces
2. Length 2. Work material 2. Locatable surfaces
3. Width 3. Heat treatment 3. Surface feature
4. Height 4. Raw material form 4. Clamping surface
5. Material removal volume 5. Surface relationships
6. Machine tool and operation type
7. Batch size
8. Annual demand
136
Chapter 5
fixture component selection, especially the selection of the baseplate, which
is the very first step of fixture design.
5.4.2 Operational Information
The operational information are also needed in fixture designs, including the
following:
1. Machining accuracy requirement essential for fixturing accuracy de-
sign and verification
2. Work material, heat treatment, raw material form, and material re-
moval volume, which are important for machining-force estimation
in fixturing stability design and evaluation
3. Operation type and machine tool information, which should be con-
sidered when a fixture configuration is generated (e.g., a fixture
configuration may be totally different if a horizontal or vertical ma-
chining center is used)
4. Batch size and annual demand, which are factors for fixture-type
selection, such as dedicated fixture, adjustable fixture, or modular
fixture, and provides useful information for cost estimation and fix-
ture management.
5.4.3 Fixturing Feature Information
The fixture design is mainly concerned with locating/clamping method se-
lection and fixture configuration generation, which is based on the infor-
mation about fixturing features of a workpiece. The fixturing features include
machining surfaces and fixturing (locating/clamping) surfaces, features of
the fixturing surfaces, and interrelationships between machining/fixturing
surfaces (as shown in Table 3).
(a) Machining Surface Information
In the part design, a machining surface may be specified by one or more
critical dimensions with certain tolerances. The number of critical dimen-
sions of a workpiece can be defined as the number of axes along which
dimensions of a machining surface is constrained, which represents the op-
eration complexity and affects the complexity of the fixture structure. It is
directly related to the locating requirement, especially for the situation of
underlocating. In Fig. 6a, a machining surface of the workpiece is to be
generated in a milling operation where only one critical dimension, a, is
required to specify the machining surface. In Fig. 6b, a slot of the workpiece
is going to be milled, where the dimensions a and b are required to constrain
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
137
a
(b)
Figure 6 Workpieces with (a) one, (b) two, and (c) three critical dimensions.
the machining surfaces. Therefore, there are two critical dimensions in this
case. In Fig. 6c, a blind slot of the workpiece is going to be milled. Three
critical dimensions, a, b, and c, are required for determining the geometric
quality of the product.
(b) Locatable Surfaces
A locatable surface can be defined as a surface with certain fixturing features
that can be used to locate a part. Basic types of locatable surface are plane
138 Chapter 5
surfaces, concentric internal surfaces, and external profile surfaces corre-
sponding to the basic locating methods/components. Analysis and identifi-
cation of locatable surfaces is a key issue of selecting datum and a locating
method in fixture design. Surface features are factors when a surface is
considered a locatable surface.
(c) Features of Locatable Surfaces
The fixturing features of a locatable surface need to be specified and are
related to the locating accuracy and locating effectiveness, including surface
area, surface finish, tolerance, and other operational features. Naturally, the
fixturing features of the three types of locatable surfaces are different. For
example, in the case of a locatable plane surface, the surface area is consid-
ered by the ratio to the workpiece size and the capability of placing a number
of locators (one to three). Other features of a plane surface are accuracy
information, surface finish, form tolerance, dimensional tolerance, and aux-
iliary information (e.g., with a slot or/and holes which cannot be utilized as
locating holes) (Table 4). Similarly, the features for locatable internal sur-
faces and external profiles are listed in Tables 5 and 6.
(d) Clamping Surfaces
A clamping surface can be defined as a surface corresponding to a locatable
surface, which can be used to clamp a part. Because the clamping surface
should be against one of the locating surfaces, the existence of a clamping
surface corresponding to a locatable surface can be considered as a feature
of the locatable surface, especially a locatable plane surface. Therefore, in
Tables 4-6, the last column represents the information of clamping surfaces.
(e) Interrelationship of the Surfaces
Not only are the features of a locatable surface but also the relationship
between the locatable surfaces, as well as the machining surfaces, very im-
portant for determining a locating method and generating a fixture config-
uration in fixture design. For example, the information which refers to
whether those surfaces are parallel or perpendicular and whether they are
close to or far from each other may become crucial in a fixture design
process. The interrelationships of the surfaces define relationships between
the machining surfaces and locatable surfaces, including spatial orientation
and distance relationships. Table 7 shows these relationships. This infor-
mation is also useful for the fixturing accuracy analysis and verification.
Tables 3-7 give an information structure for describing the locatable
surfaces, their features, and interrelationships identified from the part design
Table 4 Locatable Plane Surface Features
Surface
Area finish
1. Very small l. Rough 1.
2. Small 2. Machined 2.
3. Medium 3. Fine 3.
4. Large 4. Very fine
5. Very large
Fonn Dimensional
tolerance tolerance
> Standard 1. > Standard
= Standard 2. = Standard
< Standard 3. < Standard
Auxiliary
1. With slot
2. With hole
3. Others
Clamping
surface
1. Available
2. Unavailable
Table 5 Locatable Concentric Internal Surface Features
Surface
Area finish Form tolerance
l. Very small l. Rough 1. > Standard
2. Small 2. Machined 2. = Standard
3. Medium 3. Fine 3. < Standard
4. Large 4. Very fine
5. Very large
Dimensional
tolerance
l. > Standard 1.
2. = Standard 2.
3. < Standard 3.
4.
5.
Auxiliary
Through
Blind
< Half-round
Thread
Other
Clamping
surface
1. Available
2. Unavailable
Table 6 Locatable External Profile Surface Features
Area Surface finish Fonn tolerance Dimensional tolerance Auxiliary Clamping surface
1. Very small 1. Rough 1. > Standard 1. > Standard l. Short 1. Available
2. Small 2. Machined 2. = Standard 2. = Standard 2. Long 2. Unavailable
3. Medium 3. Fine 3. < Standard 3. < Standard 3. Half-round
4. Large 4. Very fine 4. < Half-round
5. Very large 5. Thread
6. Other
142 Chapter 5
Table 7 Interrelationships Between Locatable and Machining Surfaces
Machining Locatable Locatable Locatable
surfaces planes holes external profiles
Locatable plane # 1
Locatable plane #p
Locatable hole #1
Locatable hole #q
Locatable external profile #1
Locatable external profile #r
1. Parallel
2. Perpendicular contact
3. Perpendicular close to
4. Perpendicular far away
5. With angle contact
6. With angle far away
7. Other
and manufacturing plan. The information in this table is not totally objective
and is adaptable for specific applications in different companies. The selec-
tion of locatable surfaces is also subjective and depends on the user's ex-
perience. For example, a senior designer may chose fewer locatable surfaces
that are good enough for the determination of a locating/clamping method.
However in the case of a designer with little knowledge of fixture design,
all potential locating surfaces need be listed. Therefore, more locatable sur-
faces are identified and the size of Table 7 becomes larger. The final deter-
mination of the locating/clamping surfaces is decided by a fixture-design
process followed the fixturing feature identification procedure.
5.5 REPRESENTATION OF FIXTURING
FEATURE INFORMATION
In order to represent the fixturing feature information in a computer-com-
patible format, the coding technique is utilized, which gives a quantitative
description of the information. As discussed, the part geometric information,
operational information, and fixturing information need to be identified from
a part design with a manufacturing plan. Figure 7 shows a tree structure of
the information to be identified. The fixturing feature information can be
represented by combinations of linear codes and matrix codes; that is,
Fix-Fea = {G, H, U, V, W, C, DJ (2)
where G and H are linear codes, and U, V, W, C, and D are matrix codes.
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
length
width
overall dimensions
height
part design with
manutacturing plan
machining accuracy requirement
fixturing
information
work material, heat treatment
raw material form
material removal volume
Figure 7 The fixturing information tree.
143
surface features
clamping surfaces
surface features
clamping surtaces
surface features
clamping surfaces
rpendicular
144 Chapter 5
5.5.1 Linear Coding Structure
The workpiece geometric and operational information are relatively simple
and can be represented by a linear code structure. Two linear code vectors
are designated G
j
, and Hj, where i stands for the feature index. The value
of G
j
and H
j
contains a comparable information and is clearly defined by
the descriptions presented in Tables 8 and 9. For example, G
3
= 4 means
that the height of workpiece is in the range of 4 - 5 in.
5.5.2 Matrix Coding Structure
The fixturing features are more complex and can be represented by three
locatable surface feature matrix codes and an interrelationship matrix code.
1. Locatable plane surface matrix code: U
jj
, where i is the feature index
of locatable plane surfaces; j = I, ... , p, is the locatable plane
index and p is the number of locatable planes. The value of U
jj
presents features of a locatable surface according to the classifica-
tion scheme in Table 4. For example, U 13, = 2 means that the di-
mensional tolerance of the first locatable plane surface is a standard
value, and there is no special machining requirement.
2. Locatable concentric internal surface matrix code: V
jj
, where i is
the feature index of locatable hole surfaces; j = 1, ... , q, is the
locatable hole index and q is the number of locatable holes. V
jj
is
defined based on the information presented in Table 5. For example,
V 21 = 2 means that the diameter of the second locatable concentric
internal surface (hole) is small.
3. Locatable external profile surface matrix code: W
jj
, where i is the
feature index of locatable external profile surfaces; j = 1, ... , r, is
the locatable external profile index and r is the number of locatable
external profiles. W
jj
is defined in terms of the information in Table
6. For example, W 12 = 3 means that the first locatable external
profile has a fine surface finish.
4. Locating - machining surface relationship matrix code: C
jj
, where i
= 1, ... , n, is the machining surface index (n is the number of
critical dimensions), j = 1, ... , p + q + r, is a locatable surface
index. C
jj
is defined in terms of the information in Table 7. For
example, C
24
= 3 means that the second critical dimension is per-
pendicular to the fourth locatable surface (or the normal of the lo-
catable hole or external profile).
5. Locating surface relationship matrix code: D
jj
, where i = 1, ... , p
+ q + r, and j = 1, ... , p + q + r, are locatable surface indexes.
The value of D
jj
is determined according to the classification scheme
TableS Coding Scheme of the Linear Code G
Annual
Index Length 1 Width 2 Height 3 D-Tol. 4 Form tol. 5 Batch size 6 demand 7
0 :s1.6 :s 1.6 :s 1.0 <0.0003 <0.0003 1-3 0-60
1.6-3.2 1.6-3.2 1-2 (3-6) X 10-
4
(3-6) X 10-
4
4-10 61-120
2 3.3-4.8 3.3-4.8 2.1-3 (7 -12) X 10-
4
(7 -12) X 10-
4
11-30 121-240
3 4.9-6.4 4.9-6.4 3.1-4 (13-24) X 10-
4
(13-24) X 10-
4
31-100 240-600
4 6.5-8.0 6.5-8.0 4.1-5 (25-50) X 10-
4
(25-50) X 10-
4
101-500 601-1,000
5 8.1-9.6 8.1-9.6 5.1-6 (6-1) X 10-
3
(6-1) X 10-
3
501-1,000 (1-3) X 10
3
6 9.7-11 9.7-11 6.1-7 10-
3
-0.05 10-
3
-0.05 (1-3) X 10
3
(3.01-6) X 10
3
7 11-13.4 11-13.4 7.1-8 0.06-0.03 0.06-0.03 (3-5) X 10
3
(6.1-1.6) X 10
4
8 13.5-14.5 13.5-14.5 8.1-9 0.02-0.1 0.02-0.1 5,001- 70,000 16,000-32,000
9 >14.6 >14.6 >9 >0.1 >0.1 >7000 >32,000
Table 9 Coding Scheme of the Linear Code H
Index Material 1 Blank 2 Heat treatment 3 Operation type 4
0 Superalloy Bar Color harden VM -center top mill
1 Alloy steel Cold-roll bar Annealing VM -center side mill
2 Carbon steel Tube Normalizing HM -center top mill
3 Cast iron Casting Aging HM-center side mill
4 Composite Sharpened bar Hardening Grind
5 Non-Fe Sheet Tempering Shape
6 Copper alloy Forging Segmentation Broach
7 Alum alloy Welding Nitride Weld
8 Plastic-wood Inject modeling Electroplating Others
9 Others Others Others
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design 147
in Table 7. For example, D
25
= 3 means that the second locatable
surface is perpendicular to the fifth locatable surface (or the norm
of the locatable hole).
Once the linear and matrix codes are developed, the fixturing feature
information can be extracted from the product design model and process
planning. The information is represented in a quantitative format which can
be used in fixture planning and design.
5.6 FIXTURE-DESIGN SIMILARITY ANALYSIS
Fixture design traditionally depends on experienced people who usually for-
mulate similar fixturing methods in their mind when they deal with a work-
piece to be fixtured. According to statistics, in the manufacturing industry
more than 70% of fixture designs are generated by modifying existing de-
signs that are similar. In order to effectively make use of expert knowledge
in existing fixture designs, the similarity between fixture designs needs to
be identified. The fixturing feature information provided in the linear and
matrix codes is tested and compared with the information stored in a fixture-
design database. Therefore, the fixture-design similarity can be examined
between an incoming fixture design requirements and an existing fixture
design.
A modified similarity coefficient method is applied when a double-
weighed average similarity coefficient is defined, which is dominated by a
critical factor. The most critical factor in the fixture design planning is the
locating method. If the locating methods of two fixture designs are the same,
there is a basis for comparing their similarity. If the locating methods are
different, it means the two fixture designs may be totally different.
The critical factor coefficient, K
ij
, can be defined as
K = {I, if the locating methods of two fixture designs are the same (3)
IJ 0, otherwise
The similarity coefficient between the two fixture designs is given by
N
Kij 2: {WjjnWFn}
Sjj = --"-:I-
N
----
2: WFn
n:1
(4)
where and j are indexes of two fixture designs to be compared, n is a
148 Chapter 5
fixturing feature index, W
ijn
is a weight-average similarity coefficient be-
tween fixture designs i and j at the feature n, and W Fn is a weight factor
assigned for the feature n. The weight-average similarity coefficient can be
defined as

L {[ I - i (A
ikn
- i/Rkn)W
Will! = k
(5)
L WHn

where A
ikn
is the code value of item k in fixture design i at the feature n,
AJkn is the code value of item k in fixture design j at the feature n, R
kn
is
the range of item k in the feature n, and W Fkn is a weight factor assigned
for item k of feature n.
Because the matrix code structure is used, the expression of the simi-
larity coefficient becomes more complex. The factor I (A
ikn
- A
jkn
) I accounts
for the fact that, for a given item, the distance between attributes implies
the similarity between fixture designs in the specific feature. The factor [I
- I (A
ikn
- A
jkn
) I/R
kn
] expresses a similarity score between fixture designs i
and j in the item k at the feature n. The product of W Fkn and [I - I (Aikn -
A
jkn
) IlR
kn
] is a weighted score of the similarity of fixture designs i and j in
item k at feature n. The product of W
ijn
at all the features and Kij with a
summation gives the similar coefficient between two fixture designs. There-
fore, the similarity of two fixture designs can be calculated by Eq. (5).
When A
ikn
and A
jkn
are not comparable (e.g., work material and heat
treatment), the weight-average similarity coefficient becomes
k
L {F
iikn
}
K=I
where F
jkn
is a coefficient to represent the similarity of feature k and
F _ {I, if A.kn - =
IJkn - 0, otherwise
Kn is the number of items in fixture designs at the feature n.
5.7 IMPLEMENTATION
(6)
Based on the fixture structure analysis, fixturing feature analysis, and fixture-
design similarity description, a GT-based modular-fixture-design system is
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
149
developed, which includes the fixturing feature extraction and similar fix-
ture-design retrieval functions. There are three major modules in the system:
1. Fixturing requirement identification (input)
2. Fixture design modification
3. Fixture design information management and documentation
The first is an information input module with a fixturing feature extrac-
tion scheme, in which the information can be input into the system under
the on-screen menu promotion. The second is a fixture-design retrieval mod-
ule. With a similar design analysis scheme, the most similar design can be
identified for modifications. The third one is a documentation module which
provides interface functions for the other modules (i.e., input and output file
management). Potentially, the fixturing feature information can be used in
the fixturing surface selection where a rule base needs to be established.
5.7.1 Fixturing Feature Extraction
When the fixturing feature extraction scheme is implemented, the part design
and manufacturing plan information is interactively input into the system
through an interface with a CAD system. The locatable surfaces are chosen,
based on user's justification and preference on primary/secondary locating
surfaces. The output information can be used for designing or/and retrieving
a fixture design. Figure 8 is a block diagram showing the procedure for
implementing the fixturing feature extraction scheme. Figure 9 illustrates a
menu tree to show the organization of the information input module. Figure
10 shows pop-up menus on computer screen for the input of surface inter-
relationships. Figure 11 shows pop-up menus specifying the operational
information.
5.7.2 Fixture-Design Comparison
The fixture-design similarity analysis can be conducted when the similar
feature coefficient and corresponding detail information are specified. Ac-
cording to the design input information, five similar features can be cate-
gorized as (1) comparable linear codes, (2) incomparable linear codes, (3)
primary locating surface features, (4) secondary locating surface features,
and (5) tertiary locating surface features. Different weight factors are as-
signed to these similar features because some features may be relatively
more important than others in the fixture design. The weight factors just
reflect the difference. The values of these factors can be determined based
on a fixture-design analysis and on human experience.
ISO
locatable surfaces
--- planes
--- holes
Chapter 5
Figure 8 Fixturing feature extraction in a computer-aided fixture-design system.
The weight factors are considered in two levels. In the first level, they
are used to calculate the similarity of each similar feature between any two
tixture designs, and in the second level, they are used to calculate the tixture-
design similar coefficient.
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
151
I
Infonnation input
11
I
Operational into.
Geometrical Info.
Geometrical Info.
Operation
Material
Operational Into. r---
Length
I leat-treatment
Fixturing features -
Width
Blank
Interrelationships -
Height
Quit
J2uit
r---
Plane fiX1uring teatures
Area
'--
Operational Info.
Surface finish
Dimension To!.
Dimension ToL
Form Tol.
Form Tol.
Batch size
Clampability
Annual demand
Auxiliary
Other oper info. -
In-surface tixturing features
L-
Fixturing features
r-
Radius
No. of critical dimensions
Surface fmish
No. oflocatable planes
f---
Dimension T 01.
No. of locatable in-surface f--.--
Form ToL
No. oflocatable ex-profiles f--.--
Depth
Auxiliary
- Interrelationships
Relation of critical dimensions
'-- Ex-profile tix1uring features
Relation of locatable planes
Relation of locatable in-surfaces
Size
Relation of locatable ex-proftles
Surface tinish
Dimension Tol.
Form Tol.
Length
Clampability
Auxiliary
Figure 9 The pop-up menu of the information input module.
152
Interrelationship
Relation of critical dimensions
Relation of locatable planes
Relation of locatable in-surfaces
Relation of locatable ex-profiles
Chapter 5
Relation beween loc able ex-pr
11
Relation between locatable !od locatabl surfaces
Relation locatable plane and ocatable surfaces
Relation between the CD and locatable surfaces
pI p2 hI h2 h3 e 1 c2
CDI 0 0 0 0 0
CD200@OOOO
cm

perpendicular parallel others
Figure 10 The pop-up menu for interrelationship information input.
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design 153
Input the other operational infor. f J. HOMe End .----1 Esc
Figure 11 Menu for operational information input.
In the fixture-design similarity analysis, seven factors are directly com-
parable, including the size of workpiece (length, width, and height), dimen-
sional and form tolerance, batch size, and annual demand. Therefore, Eq.
(5) is simplified as
2: {[I - I (Ak - A
jk
) IlRk]W
Fk
}
W
jj l
= _K- _-I ____
(7)
The values of the weight factors are assigned according to its importance
in the fixture design. Among these factors, the accuracy requirements of the
operation are the most important, followed by the dimensional factors. The
batch size and annual demand are relatively less important. W Fn is defined
as
W
F1
= W
F2
= W
F3
= 0.7, W
F4
= W
F5
= 1.0, and W
F6
= W
F7
= 0.5
The other operational similarity feature contains four factors: work ma-
terials, blank, heat treatment, and operation type. They are not numerically
comparable. Therefore, Eq. (6) is applied:
4
W
jj2
= 2: {F
jj2k
}
K = I
(8)
154 Chapter 5
Based on the fixturing feature information, the possible locating method
and the corresponding locating surfaces, as well as the surface features can
be identified. Usually, each locating method specifies three locating surfaces
where the similarity refers to the fixturing features of the three locating
surfaces, including the spatial relationships between the locating surfaces.
The similarity becomes a comparison of selected locating surfaces as well
as surface features and surface relationships, which can be evaluated by
applying Eq. (5). If the input information of these features is not directly
comparable, Eq. (6) is used. The value of K may vary when a different
locating method is applied:
K
L {FUnk}
W'Jn =
n = 3, 4, 5, 6 (9)
Because there are five similar features considered, Eq. (4) can be written
as
Kij {t. Wu.W,.}
S,] = ( 10)
L WFn

where W Fn is the weight factor of each similar feature, which are assigned
in our study as W
F1
= 1, W
F2
= 0.8, W
F3
= 1, W
r4
= W
r5
= 0.7, W
F6
= 0.5,
and W
Fn
= 4.7. The assignment of the weight factors reflects the relative
importance of each similarity feature in the fixture-design comparison.
5.7.3 Documentation and File Management
The file management menu is provided to perform the documentation and
file management functions. These functions include the save and open work-
piece input information files, the setup fixture design code library, which
includes all the setup and interface procedures, and the open fixture design
code files. Figure 12 shows the pop-up menu for file management.
5.8 CASE STUDY
By using the GT-based fixture design system, the fixturing features of a
given workpiece can be extracted, the similar fixture design can be identified,
and the existing fixture design can be retrieved.
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design 155
-------------- - - - ~ - - - - - - ~ - -
Give d file n d ~ e t 1 HOl'1e End .. -1 Esc
Figure 12 Menu for file management.
Figure 13 shows a workpiece of pump cylinders. The big hole and one
side surface are to be machined. There are three critical dimensions. By
following the menu instruction provided in the system, fixturing features are
extracted as follows:
**************************************
Input Information
**************************************
No. of locatable planes, p = 3
No. of locatable internal surfaces, q = 3
No. of locatable external profiles, m = 1
No. of critical dimensions, n = 3
Part length = 5.8 in.
Part width = 3.44 in.
Part height = 3.5 in.
Part tightest dimensional tolerance = 0.0074 mm
Part tightest form tolerance = 0.0025
Batch size = 100
Annual demand = 10000
Operational type: horizontal milling operation
Material: Carbon-steel
Blank: Casting
Heat treatment: Normalizing
156
Chapter 5
Figure 13 Sample part # I.
Therefore, the linear and matrix codes are obtained as follows:
Part geometric information:
G = [3. 2. 3, 5,4, 3,7]
Operational information:
H = [2, 3, 2, 3]
Locatable plane surfaces:
[
4 3 2 2 2 ']
U = 4 2 2 2 2 2
2 2 2 2 3 I
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
Locatable internal surface:
Locatable external profile:
W = [3, 1, 1, 1, 3, 1]
Locating-machining surface relationship:
[
1 1
C = 1 2
2 1
Locating surface relationships
157
Figure 14 shows another workpiece in which the large hole is to be
bored on a horizontal milling machine. There are two critical dimensions in
the X and Z directions. By following the menu instruction, the information
input file can be obtained similarly.
**************************************
Input Information
**************************************
No. of locatable planes, p = 3
No. of locatable internal surfaces, q = 2
No. of locatable external profiles, m = 1
No. of critical dimensions, n = 2
Part length = 5 in.
Part width = 3.25 in.
Part height = 1.625 in.
Part highest dimensional tolerance = 0.005 mm
Part highest form tolerance = 0.0025 mm
Batch size = 100
Annual demand = 10000
158
Figure 14 Sample part #2.
Operational type: vertical milling operation
Material: cast-iron
Blank: casting
Heat treatment: normalizing
The linear and matrix codes are obtained as:
Part geometric information:
G = [3, 2, 1, 4, 4, 3, 7J
Operational information:
H = [3, 3, 2, OJ
Chapter 5
GT-Based Computer-Aided Fixture Design
/59
Locatable plane surfaces:
U = ~
3 2 2 2
lJ
2 2 2 3
2 2 2 3
Locatable internal surface:
V _ [2
2
;] - 2
2
Locatable external profile:
W = [3, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2]
Locating - machining surface relationship:
C = [:
I 4 4 4
;]
4 1 4 4
Locating surface relationship:
The similarity coefficients can be calculated between the workpieces in
the two examples. Based on these codes and fixture-design rules, all possible
locating methods can be identified (Zhu, 1994). When a common locating
method is applied to the both cases, they can be compared because Ki) = 1.
First, the linear codes are compared. When Eq. (7) is applied, Aik and
Ajk are determined by the G code. By considering the weight factors of W fn>
W
ijl
can be obtained:
L {[I - I(Ak - Ajk)llRdWFd
W
ijl
= K=I 7
LWFl<
K=I
0.7 + 0.7 + 0.56 + 0.9 + I + 0.5 + 0.5 = 0.757
5.1
160 Chapter 5
With Eq. (8) and the linear code H, W
jj2
can be found:
As mentioned, when the matrix codes are obtained, possible locating
methods can be determined based on fixture-design rules. If the same lo-
cating method is identified for both workpieces, the similarity of fixturing
features can be compared. For example, in this case study, plane surfaces
can be selected as locating surfaces for both sample workpieces. Therefore.
the similarity identification becomes comparisons of primary locating sur-
faces (first row of matrix U), secondary locating surfaces (second row of
matrix U), third locating surfaces (third row of matrix U), and surface re-
lationships between these locating surfaces (in matrix D). The results are
obtained as
Finally, the similarity coefficient between the two fixture designs for the
two workpieces is determined as
(,
2: WijnWf'n
Si) = n=l (, = 0.70
2: Wf'n
n=l
Figure 15 illustrates the fixture designs for the two sample workpieces.
The fixture designs are not unique and may not be the optimal designs. It
should be noted that there can be more than one similarity coefficient to be
calculated when different locating methods are applied. The technique pre-
sented in this chapter provides a means of identifying the most similar fixture
designs based on all possible locating methods. When the similarity coeffi-
cient between the two workpieces is high, the locating method and fixture
structure can be shared in the design; that is, one fixture design can be
obtained from recalling and retrieving the other one. An interactive operation
on the fixture-design modification is still necessary in the current stage. A
more advanced case-based reasoning method for automated variational fix-
ture design technique is under development; this will be applicable for ded-
icated fixture designs also.
161
GT-Bas
ed
computer-Aided Fixture Design
(a)
figure 15 Fixture design for (a) sample part #1 and (b) sample part #2.
162 Chapter 5
REFERENCES
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Bai, y, and Y Rong (1996), Machining Accuracy Analysis for Computer-aided
Fixture Design, ASME Transaction: journal of Manufacturing Science and
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Bausch, J. J., and K. Youcef-Toumi (1990), Kinematics Methods for Automated
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Berry, D. C. (1982), Application of CAD/CAM to Fixture Design, in Proc. 1st
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Chou, Y c., V. Chandru, and M. M. Barash (1989), A Mathematical Approach to
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Ferreira, P. M., B. Kochar. C. R. Liu, and V. Chandru (1985), AIFIX: An Expert
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Grippo, P. M., M. V. Grandhi, and B. S. Thompson (1987), The Computer-Aided
Design of Modular Fixturing Systems, International journal of AdwlIlced
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Hoffman, E. G. (1991), jig and Fixture Design, 3rd Ed., Delmar, New York.
Mani, M., and W. R. D. Wilson (1988), Automated Design of Workholding Fixtures
Using Kinematic Constraint Synthesis, in Proc. 16th North American Manu-
facturing Conj, pp. 437 -444.
Markus, A. (1998), Strategies for the Automated Generation of Modular Fixtures, in
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Miller, A. S., and R. G. Hannam (1985), Computer-aided Design using a Knowledge-
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Nee, A. Y c., and A. Senthil Kumar (J 991), A Framework for an Object/Rule-Based
Automated Fixture Design System, Annals of the CIRP, Vol. 40, No. I, pp.
147-151.
Nee, A. y, S. Prombanpong, and A. Senthil Kumar (1991), A State-of-Art-Review
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Carbon dale.
6
Autontated Fixture
Configuration Design
Flexible fixturing is a necessary aspect of flexible manufacturing systems
(FMS) and computer-integrated manufacturing systems (CIMS). Modular
fixtures are most widely used in industry for job and batch production. Com-
puter-aided fixture design (CAFD) has become a research focus in imple-
menting FMS and CIMS. Fixture configuration design is an important issue
in the domain of CAFD. A review of the current research in CAFD indicates
that a major problem impeding the automated generation of fixture config-
urations is the lack of studies on fixture structures. This chapter presents an
investigation of fundamental structures of dowel-pin-based modular fixtures
and fixturing characteristics of commonly used modular-fixture elements. A
modular-fixture element assembly relationship graph (MFEARG) is designed
to represent combination relationships between fixture elements. Based on
MFEARG, algorithms are developed to search all suitable fixturing unit
candidates and mount them into appropriate positions on a baseplate with
interference checking. A prototype system for automated design of dowel-
pin modular-fixture configurations is introduced in this chapter. Examples
of fixture design are given at the end of the chapter.
6.1 INTRODUCTION
Reducing production-cycle time and responding to the rapid change of prod-
uct designs is a means of surviving and thriving in the competitive market
for most manufacturing companies. Manufacturing planning, including tool-
ing, makes a major contribution in the production cycle. With the devel-
164
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
165
opment of CNC technology, which makes machining time much shorter than
ever, the attempt to reduce manufacturing time is focused on decreasing the
time involved in workpiece setup. Flexible fixturing has become an impor-
tant issue in FMS and CIMS (Thompson and Gandhi, ] 986; Nee and Senthil
Kumar, 1991). There are several categories of flexible fixture such as phase-
change materials and modular, adjustable, and programmable fixtures, of
which modular fixtures are widely used in industry (Trappey and Liu, 1990;
Zhu and Zhang, 1990). Modular fixtures were originally developed for
small-batch production to reduce the fixturing cost, where the dedicated
fixtures were not economically feasible. The flexibility of the modular fixture
is derived from the large number of fixture configurations from different
combinations of the fixture element which may be bolted to a baseplate
(Thompson and Gandhi, 1986). Modular-fixture elements can be disassem-
bled after processing a batch of parts and reused for new parts. Modular-
fixture configuration design is a complex and highly experience-dependent
task. This impedes further applications of modular fixtures. Lack of skillful
fixture designers is a common problem in industry. The development of
CAFD systems is necessary to make manufacturing systems truly flexible.
Figure 1 shows an outline of fixture-design activities in manufacturing
systems, including three steps: setup planning, fixture planning, and fixture
configuration design. The objective of setup planning is to determine the
number of setups needed, the orientation of workpiece in each setup, and
the machining surfaces in each setup. The setup planning could be a subset
of process planning. Fixture planning is used to determine the locating,
supporting, and clamping points on workpiece surfaces. The task of fixture
configuration design is to select fixture elements and place them into a final
configuration to locate and clamp the workpiece. As more and more CNC
machines and machining centers are employed, many operations can be car-
ried out within a single setup, which needs to be ensured by a well-designed
fixture configuration. This chapter focuses on automated fixture configura-
tion design (AFCD).
Some previous research on setup planning can be found in the computer-
aided process planning (CAPP) area (Joneja and Chang, 1989; Chang, 1992;
Ferreira and Liu, 1988). Most of the research in the CAFD area was on
fixture planning, including a method for automated determination of fixture
location and clamping derived from a mathematical model (Chou et aI.,
1989); an algorithm for selection of locating and clamping positions which
provided the maximum mechanical leverage (De Meter, 1993); kinematic-
analysis-based fixture planning (Menassa and De Vries, 1990; Mani and Wil-
son, ] 988), and rule-based systems developed by European researchers to
design modular fixtures for prismatic workpieces (Markus et aI., 1984; Pham
and de Sam Lazaro, 1990).
166
Product Design
(CAD)
Geometric
Representation
1
Process Planning
(CAPP)
Production System
NC programming
CAM
MRP
Setup Planning
--- Operation Sequence
--- Workpiece Orientation
Fixture Planning
--- Locating SurfacesIPoints
--- Clamping SurfacesIPoints
--- Supporting Surtac1esllJOllltl
Fixture Configuration
---Fixture Element Selection
---Position and Orientation
Determination
Fixture Assembly
Drawing
Element List
Robotic Assembly
Figure 1 Fixture design in manufacturing systems.
Chapter 6
In the area of AFCD, relatively less literature can be found. Given lo-
cating and clamping points on workpiece surfaces, fixture elements can be
selected to hold the workpiece based on computer-aided design (CAD)
graphic functions (Sakal and Chou, 1991). A two-dimensional (2-0) mod-
ular-fixture synthesis algorithm was developed for polygonal parts (Goldberg
and Brost, 1994). Whybrew and Ngoi (1990) presented a method to auto-
matically design the configuration of T-slot-based modular-fixturing ele-
ments. The key feature of the system was the development of a matrix spatial
representation technique which permitted the program to search and identify
both objects and object intersections. It was also able to determine the po-
sition of objects during the design process. However, the limitation of the
method was that only the blocks whose edges were parallel or perpendicular
to each other could be represented. Therefore, the design system could only
layout the fixture elements in such a way that all the edges of fixture
elements were parallel or perpendicular to each other. Trappey et al (1993),
presented a methodology for determining the location and orientation of
dowel-pin based modular fixture in a 2-D projection basis. It only presented
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 167
detailed research on selecting the fixed point between baseplate and bottom
modular-fixture elements and did not describe the rule to select the suitable
modular-fixture elements and the method of combining them. The fixture-
design methodology in the case of the 3-2-1 fixture layout method was
applied in the study.
The major problems involved in AFCD include selection of locators and
clamps which make contact with the workpiece, determination of the heights
of these units to hold the workpiece, placement of locating and clamping
units around the workpiece and on the baseplate, determination of connec-
tions between fixture elements, and interference checking among fixture
units and with the workpiece and machining envelope. In this chapter, the
fundamental structure of dowel-pin-based modular-fixture and fixturing char-
acteristics of commonly used modular fixture elements are first investigated.
An MFEARG is introduced to represent basic combination relationships be-
tween modular-fixture elements. Based on MFEARG, algorithms are imple-
mented to choose all suitable fixturing unit candidates. Algorithms of mount-
ing fixture units on baseplates are also discussed in this chapter. The input
of the system is workpiece representation, workpiece orientation, fixture
planning, and machining envelope. This information is extracted from a
CAD model of workpieces with process planning information. Its output is
a fixture assembly drawing displayed on the computer screen or plotted as
hardcopy, and a list of modular-fixture elements as well as their position
coordinates and orientations.
6.2 ANALYSIS OF MODULAR FIXTURE STRUCTURES
Figure 2 sketches a dowel-pin-type modular-fixturing system which includes
a library of a large number of standard fixture elements (Hoffman, 1987).
With combinations of the fixture elements, an experienced fixture designer
can build fixtures for a variety of workpieces. In order to automatically
generate a fixture configuration design, the issues for the following problems
are presented in the remaining sections:
1. The selection of suitable fixture elements and combinations of these
elements into desired functional units
2. The methodology to mount (position) the fixture units (or elements)
in appropriate positions and orientations on a baseplate without in-
terference with the space already occupied by the workpiece, ma-
chining envelope, or other fixture units mounted in advance
It should be noted that kinematic constraints, locating accuracy, fixturing
stability, and fixturing deformation are also important in fixture planning and
/68 Chapter 6
Figure 2 A sketch of BJuco Technik modular fixturing system.
fixture configuration design. Once a fixture configuration design is finished,
the design performances need to be verified, which are not presented in this
chapter (Rong and Bai, 9 9 6 ~ Rong et aI., 1994, 9 9 5 ~ Zhu et aI., 1993).
Verification results are the feedback information to the fixture configuration
design module for alternative designs, if necessary.
Fixturing features of a workpiece have been analyzed, including geo-
metric, operational, and fixturing surface information (Rong et aI., 1993).
Once a fixture structure is decomposed into functional units, fixture ele-
ments, and functional surfaces, the fixture-design process becomes a search
for a match between the fixturing features and fixture structure (Rong and Zhu,
1993). In the application of modular fixtures, a fixture-element assembly rela-
tionship database is built up based on the analysis of the fixture structure.
6.2.1 Decomposition of Modular Fixture Structure
The advantage of modular fixtures is its adaptability for various workpieces
by changing the configuration combinations of fixture elements. Modular-
fixture structures can be decomposed into functional units, elements, and
functional surfaces.
By applying set theory, a fixture body can be defined as a set or an
assembly of fixture elements. Let F denote a fixture and e
j
(i = I, 2, ... ,
ne) a fixture element in F, where ne is the number of fixture elements in F,
i.e.,
(1)
This is a representation of a fixture at the level of fixture elements.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
169
A fixture consists of several subassemblies. Each subassembly performs
one or more fixturing functions (usually one). These kinds of subassembly
in a fixture are considered fixture functional units. In a fixture unit, all el-
ements are connected one with one another directly where only one element
is connected directly with the baseplate and one or more elements in the
subset are contacted directly with the workpiece serving as the locator,
clamp, or support.
Let U
i
denote a fixture unit in a fixture. From the above description, we
have
(2)
where nei is the number of elements in unit Ui.
Therefore, a representation of a fixture at the level of fixture units can
be written in the following way:
F = {Uili E nul
F = {{eiiU E neilli E nu}
where nu is the number of units in fixture F.
(3)
(4)
Dividing a fixture structure into functional units and gIVIng detailed
analyses on the functional units plays a key role in automated modular-
fixture designs.
A fixture element consists of several surfaces which can either serve as
a locating, clamping, or supporting surface in contact directly with the work-
piece (which is named a fixturing-functional surface) or serve as supporting
or supported surfaces in contact with other fixture elements (which are called
assembly-functional surfaces). Therefore, an element can be represented by
(5)
where Sik denotes the functional surface k on fixture element i and nsi is the
number of functional surfaces the element i contains. By combining formulas
(4) and (5), a fixture can be represented at the level of fixture surfaces in
the form
(6)
In this way, a fixture structure is decomposed into three levels, i.e., unit,
element, and functional surface levels. A conceptual sketch of the fixture
structure decomposition is shown in Fig. 3.
170 Chapter 6
Fixture Structure
Function Unit
Fixture Element
Function Surface
Figure 3 Fixture structure tree.
Based on the investigation of various application examples of dowel-
pin modular fixtures and also for the purpose of automated fixture config-
uration design, a fixture structure can be classified into seven types of unit
(substructure): Vertical Locating Unit (VLU), Horizontal Locating Unit
(HLU), Vertical-Horizontal Combination Locating Unit (VHCLU), Vertical
Clamping Unit (VCU), Horizontal Clamping Unit (HCU), Vertical Support-
ing Unit (VSU), Horizontal Supporting Unit (HSU). Fixture units are com-
posed of modular-fixture elements. The functional surfaces of a fixture el-
ement perform the tasks of locating, supporting, and clamping. All of the
above units are mounted on a baseplate. Figure 4 shows the fixture structure
decomposition for dowel-pin modular-fixture systems.
6.2.2 Fixture Units and Elements
In general, a fixture unit consists of several fixture elements where usually
only one element is in contact with the workpiece by its fixturing-functional
surface to serve as a locator, supporter, or clamp. All fixture elements in a
fixture unit are connected through their assembly-functional surfaces. This
fixturing-functional surface in a fixture unit is defined as an acting surface
of the fixture unit. Each unit must have at least one acting surface which
performs the fixturing function. Usually, the acting surface is a plane or a
cylindrical surface. The acting plane of a fixture unit can be described by a
point on the plane and the external normal vector of the plane. The center
of the fixturing plane is chosen as the point to describe the plane. The acting
cylindrical surface of a fixture unit can be described by a point on the axis
of the cylinder and the vector of axis. The center point of the acting surface
is defined as an acting point of the unit and the distance between the surface
of baseplate and the acting point is defined as an acting height of the fixture
unit. The acting direction of a fixture unit can also be defined by the direction
of the external normal vector of the acting surface.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 171
Fixture
Structure

Top Surface
Side Surface
Surface and Edge Bar
Vertical Locating -f Adjustable LocatingBar ..... .
Unit (VLU) ..... .
-f
Adjusbnent Stop
Horizontal Locating V-Pad
Unit (HLU) ..... .
f
Surface and Edge Bar -f Top Surface
Ver11, 'cal and Horizontal D I S ...r: d Edg BI k Side Surface
Combination ua Ullace an e oc
Umt (VHCLU) ... ... . .....
Vertical Clamping --C Clamping Support
Unit (VCU) I Clamping Bar
Speed Clamp with
Horizontal Adjustable Block
Unit (HCU) I Serrated Edge Clamp
Vertical Supporting V-Pad
-f
Adjustable Bar
Unit (VSU)

Adjustable Stop
Horizontal Suppo .
Unit (HSU)
Unit Level Element Level Surface Level
Figure 4 Decomposition of modular-fixture structures.
172 Chapter 6
For fixture units, the most important parameter in fixture design is the
acting height. Figure 5 shows the acting heights of different fixture units in
a fixture design. In general cases, several fixture elements need to be assem-
bled together to achieve the acting height. The acting heights of fixture units
are the parameters which must be known before suitable fixture elements
can be selected. The fixture element selection to form a fixture unit is based
on a fixture element assembly relationship analysis as shown in the next
section.
Fixture configuration design is a process of selecting fixture elements
from a fixture element library and allocating them together in space accord-
ing to a certain sequence. In AFCD, a fixture element database needs to be
built up, in which the geometry information such as geometric profile, the
edges, and surfaces of a fixture element is represented in its own (local)
coordinate system. To represent the position and orientation of a fixture
element in the fixture system, global and local coordinate systems need to
be defined. If the global coordinate system which is associated with the
fixture baseplate is defined by O(X, Y, Z), the local coordinate system of
fixture element i can be defined by three orthogonal unit vectors (u" Vi, w;)
with a local origin Pi(X, y, z), as seen in Figure 6. Once a fixture configu-
ration is built up, the position and orientation of each fixture element needs
to be determined. Parameters (Pi' a", ay, a" b", by, bJ are used to represent
the position and orientation of the fixture element i in the global coordinate
Workpiece
.<\cting Height ofVCU
VLU
Acting Height ofHLU
Acting Height ofVLU
Figure 5 Acting heights of fixture units.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 173
z
~ ~ X
Figure 6 Coordinate systems in automated fixture configuration design.
system, where pj is the origin of the element local coordinate system and
the symbols a
x
, ay, an and b
x
, by, b
z
are the directional cosines of the unit
vectors Uj and Vj, respectively. The unit vector wj(c
x
, c
Y
' cJ is not independent
and can be determined by
Wj = Uj X V j (7)
During AFCD, the bottom element of a fixture unit is first placed on
the fixture baseplate; that is, the position and orientation of the bottom el-
ement is first determined relative to the global coordinate system, although
this relationship may be adjusted later. Then, other fixture elements in the
fixture unit are, in turn, allocated until the acting height is reached. This
bottom-up approach has been applied to the fixture unit mounting algorithm
in the AFCD system.
6.2.3 Assembly Characteristics of Modular-Fixture Elements
The methodology of selecting fixture elements and assembling them together
to form a fixture functional unit is the key issue in automated fixture con-
figuration design. If a detailed examination is made on the level of fixture
functional units from many practical application cases, it is found that there
are some commonly used fundamental structures in various fixture bodies.
These fundamental structures have the properties of adaptability, rigidity,
174 Chapter 6
simplicity, ease of loading, and so forth. Studying the assembly relationship
between fixture elements and extracting basic combinations of the elements
is a way of achieving automated fixture configuration design. In fact, the
assembly relationships between modular-fixture elements are not arbitrary
but constrained. A fixture element can be only assembled with a fraction of
other modular-fixture elements and, usually, it can only be used in one or
several units. Following are examples showing the fixturing characteristics
of some commonly used modular-fixture elements and their possible assem-
bly relationship with other modular-fixture elements.
Figure 7a shows a console, which is usually used as a riser to raise other
fixture elements up to the necessary acting height. Two adjacent sides have
an alternating pattern of clearance and tapped holes for accurately mounting
the console to baseplate or other support elements. The other two sides have
bushed and tapped holes for mounting locating or clamping elements. A
console can be mounted on the top of another console of its kind, which is
called a self-supportable fixture element. Because a console is relatively
larger than other locating and clamping elements, many elements can be
mounted on the top of a console. But, a console usually can be only mounted
on a baseplate or another console. A console may be used in building up
different kinds of fixture units and it is one of the most adaptable fixture
elements.
Surface/edge bar and dual surface/edge block shown in Fig. 7b are used
as risers or locators either individually or in a combination with other fixture
elements. The slot edge can serve as a vertical-horizontal combination 10-
cator. The surface/edge bar can be assembled on the top of dual surface/
edge block and both of them can be stacked on the top of a console to
achieve an appropriate height.
Figure 7c shows several surface locator towers, including locating tower,
multisurface tower, ground spacer, and tipped screw. All of these towers are
used only as locators in VLU or VHCLU. They may be mounted at the top
level of fixture units and contact with surfaces of the workpiece directly.
These towers cannot support any other fixture elements. A ground spacer is
a self-supportable fixture element, which may provide a precise establish-
ment of the acting height.
An adjustable surface bar and adjustable locating bar, as shown as in
Fig. 7d, can be used in the VLU as locators. Because these adjustable bars
are fixed by a screw along a T-slot, the actual locating positions can be
adjusted to any desired position and orientation in the range which can be
reached. Therefore, they are very useful in the case of a strict locating point
position required.
Other commonly used fixture elements in the modular-fixture system
include adjustment stop (Fig. 7e), V-bar, V-block, and adjustable V-tower
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 175
(a) Console (b) Surface/edge bar and block
1il!V
(c) Surface locating towers
(d) Adjustable locating bars (e) Adjustable stop
(t) V-blocks
(g) Clamping stop (h) Edge clamps
Figure 7 Typical modular-fixture elements.
176 Chapter 6
(Fig. 7f), clamping support (Fig. 7g), and edge clamps (Fig. 7h). Assembly
characteristics of these fixture elements are similar to those analyzed previously.
In order to automatically select and generate fixturing units in fixture
configuration designs, the assembly relationships between fixture elements
needs to be analyzed and represented in a computer-compatible format,
which is the foundation of forming fixturing units with elements. A modular-
fixture element assembly relationship graph MFEARG has been developed
to represent the assembly relationships in building fixture units. Figure 8 is
a partial MFEARG composed of real fixture elements, showing assembly
relationships of the fixture elements for possibly building a VLU. It should
be noted that for the purpose of explicitness, only a few typical fixture
elements are shown in Fig. 8. A total MFEARG for assembling a VLU may
contain more fixture elements and more assembly relationships. An
MFEARG can be further represented by an abstract graph. A mathematical
Figure 8 Modular-fixture element assembly relationship graph for a VLU.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 177
model and computer implementation of MFEARG will be introduced in
Sect. 6.3.
6.2.4 Modular-Fixture-Element Assembly Relationship Graph
An MFEARG can be defined, without loss of generality, as a directed graph
(digraph) G, as shown as in Fig. 9, i.e.,
G = (V, E) (8)
and
V = {vlv E fixture elements},
where V is a set of vertices representing fixture elements used in building
a specific fixture unit and E is a set of directed pairs of members of V and
is an edge representing the assembly relationship between fixture elements
(i and j).
The edge e(vi Vj) presents that fixture element Vi, the start vertex of
edge e, can be mounted on the fixture element v
j
' the end vertex of edge e.
The number of edges going from other vertices to an end vertex denotes an
in-degree of the vertex and the number of edges coming from a start vertex
to other vertices denotes an out-degree of the vertex. An edge e(vi Vi) is
called a self-loop if the fixture element Vi can be assembled with a fixture
element of its own kind. The consoles and adopter blocks discussed earlier
are such kinds of fixture elements.
Figure 9 A sketch of MFEARG models.
178 Chapter 6
A directed path is a sequence of edges ViI V
i2
V
i3
.,. such that
the end vertex of e
i
I is the start vertex of e
i
, which represents the possible
assembly relationship for building a fixture unit. If the in-degree of a vertex
in MFEARG (VI' v
2
, or V3, in Fig. 9) is zero, no fixture element can be
mounted on the fixture element. The locating tower, multisurface tower, and
so on are such kinds of fixture elements. Similarly, the out-degree of V
K
is
zero in Fig. 9, which means it can be mounted to no other fixture elements
except the baseplate. Therefore, a complete directed path represents a pos-
sible formation of a fixture unit.
In the AFCD system, a modular-fixture-element assembly relationship
database (MFEARDB) is established to represent the MFEARG information
for which the relative positions and orientations between any two fixture
elements are specified according to their possible assembly relationships
(e.g., Fig. 8). Once the MFEARDB is built up, it can be used in fixture
configuration design.
6.3 ESTABLISHMENT OF MFEARDB
The MFEARG is stored in an MFEARDB. Based on the MFEARG model,
algorithms were implemented to choose all suitable fixturing unit candidates
and mount fixture units on a fixture baseplate. Because different fixture
systems have different modular-fixture elements, the corresponding
MFEARGs will be different. In order to generally implement the AFCD
system, the MFEARDB should be automatically constructed for various fix-
ture systems. Figure 10 outlines the approach to automatically construct an
MFEARDB. For a modular-fixture system, all modular-fixture elements are
first represented by CAD models with specified assembly features. Then, the
modular fixture element assembly relationship reasoning engine is applied
to find all the possible assembly relationships between any element pairs.
The reasoning results are used to construct the MFEARDB, which is based
r ..........
r
......
..........
-- '-
.-'
Modular
Modular Modular Fixture Fixture
Fixture Element Assembly Element
Element Relationship Reasoning Assembly
Database Engine Relationship
v
-...
lDatabase
'-
.-'
V
......
'--
.-/
Figure 10 System for the MFEARDB.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
179
on the MFEARG model. The MFEARDB needs to update only when any
fixture element is added to or canceled from the fixture system.
6.3.1 Modular-Fixture-Element Modeling
Geometric information of fixture elements is used when interference of two
elements is checked in specific spatial positions and orientations. Because
the geometry of fixture elements is relatively simple and preknown, a prim-
itive instancing scheme (Mantyla, 1988) is used to model the fixture element
geometry. Some geometry simplifications are made when modeling fixture
elements to avoid time-consuming intersection checking for complex ge-
ometry. Geometric information of a fixture element includes the shape type
of the element and dimensional parameters. Figure 11 shows some examples
of fixture element shape geometry: block, cylinder, and bracket. Block-type
elements are defined by three parameters (1, w, h), cylinder-type elements
are represented by two parameters (r, h), and bracket-type elements are de-
scribed by five parameters (1h 1
2
, W, hI> h
2
).
z
z
x
y
x
y
Block ( I, w, h )
Cylinder ( r, h)
hi
Bracket ( h ' 12, W, hi, h2 )
Figure 11 Three categories of modular-fixture element.
180
Chapter 6
To understand the assembly relationship between fixture elements, as-
sembly features together with the geometric information need to be defined
and used to represent modular-fixture elements. The following functional
surfaces are defined as assembly features of fixture elements: (1) supporting
faces, (2) supported faces, (3) locating holes, (4) counterbore holes, (5)
screw holes, (6) fixing slots, (7) pins, and (8) screw bolts.
Figure 12 shows the fixture assembly features. A supporting face is
the surface that can be used to support other fixture elements or the work-
piece. A supported face is the surface that is supported by other fixture
elements in a fixture design. A locating hole is the hole machined to a certain
accuracy level and can be used as a locating datum with locating pins.
Counterbore holes and fixing slots are used to fasten two elements with
screw bolts.
In a modular-fixture system, assembly features of elements such as lo-
cating hole, counterbore hole, screw hole, pin, and screw are designed with
standard dimensions. Other parameters of an assembly feature are the po-
sition and orientation of the feature in the element's local coordinate system.
The homogeneous transformation is used in this research to describe the
position and orientation of features.
Let F denote the feature position and orientation of an element, which
can be represented by
F = (V, p)l (9)
where V = ( v, Vy VI 0 ) is the homogeneous representation of the orientation
vector V of feature F and v,,, v
Y
' and VI. are the directional cosines of V. P
= (x Y z l) is the homogeneous coordinate of origin of feature F.
If F is a face-type feature, its origin P is a point on the face, and the
orientation vector V is normal to the face and points out from it (Fig. 12a).
If F is a hole-type feature, its origin P is the center of the hole end circle
and V points outward along the axis of the hole (Fig. I 2b). If F is a pin-
type feature, its origin P is the center on the tip of the shaft and V points
outward along the axis of the shaft (Fig. 12c). In the case of fixing slots,
the origin P and vector V are defined as shown in Fig. 12d.
In modular-fixture systems, locating holes, counterbore holes, screw
holes, and fixing slots are designed perpendicular to the supporting or sup-
ported face of an element. The locating holes, counterbore holes, and fixing
slots of a supported element are used to locate and fix the supported element
to a supporting element. They are defined as associate assembly features
with the supported face. Because of the standard design, their relative po-
sitions and orientations are known in the local coordinate system of the
fixture element and can be extracted from the vector of the supported face.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
v
(b)
(c)
r

(d)
I
I
v
181
v
Figure 12 Assembly features: (a) face type; (b) hole type; (c) pin type; (d) fixing
slot.
Similarly, locating holes and screw holes of a supporting element are used
to locate and fix a supported element on the supporting element. They are
also defined as associate assembly features with the supporting face. Their
positions and orientations can be extracted from the vector of the supporting
face in the database. It should be noted that a fixture element may serve as
J82 Chapter 6
a supporting element to a supported element in a fixture and may serve as
a supported element to another supporting element.
Because the number of assembly features on a face may vary, a linked
list structure is used in MFEARDB to represent the fixture elements (Fig.
13). In the MFEARDB, fixture element information is organized into four
levels-an element list, element records, functional surfaces, and associate
assembly features. In an element record, a fixture element identification code
and shape type is first defined. The geometric dimensions are retrieved from
element parameters. Associate assembly features are represented in terms of
their assembly features on a functional surface, which provides a convenient
way to find all associate assembly feature information for a specific surface.
This will help in understanding assembly relationship, which is mainly car-
ried out according to supporting-supported face pairs. In the data structure,
if there are no more assembly features associated with a functional face, the
pointer just points to a symbol NIL, which represents the end of list. There-
fore, this approach has the advantage of saving memory space.
Element Element Supported
List Record Face 1 Record
ID IndexlID
Vx
Vy
Vz
Associate Locating
Hole Pointer
Associate Associate
Counterbore
Pointer
Associate fixing
Slot Pointer x
x
Supported Face z y
M Pointer Supporting z
# of Supporting F ace I Record
Face ID
Supporting Face
I Pointer
Supporting Face
P Pointer
-
Associate Screw z
Hole Pointer
Figure 13 A linked list data structure representing fixture.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
Element
Record
310020
Surface and
Edge Bar
Block
3
90
30
20
SPDF I Ptr
1
SPGF 1 Ptr
Supported
Face 1 Record
1
o
o
Nil
Supporting
Face 1 Record
1
o
o
-1
LH tr
SHptr
15
20
30
15
~ - - - - I Next
Nil
2
75
15
20
Next
2
60
15
o
Figure 14 Data structure representing an edge-bar element.
/83
Nil
Nil
Nil
Figure 14 shows an example of the data structure for an edge-bar ele-
ment, where two functional surfaces (supporting and supported faces) and
three types of associate assembly features (two locating holes, two screw
holes, and one counterbore hole) can be identified with position and orien-
tation information. The dimensions of the assembly features are standardized
with a specific series of modular-fixture systems.
6.3.2 Mathematical Reasoning of Assembly Relationship
When a data structure is designed to represent fixture element and mating
relationships are defined between fixture elements, the assembly relation-
ships between fixture elements can be obtained through a reasoning or in-
184 Chapter 6
ference procedure. Actually, the fixture configuration design is similar to an
assembly process. Some previous work in assembly area provides valuable
information for analyzing assembly relationships between modular fixture
elements (Ambler, 1975; Lee, 1985a; 1985b).
(a) Mating Relationship Between Assembly Features
Mating relationships have been used to define assembly relationships be-
tween part components. Researchers defined their own mating assembly re-
lationship according to the application area. In this research, five types of
relationship are defined between assembly features for the purpose of un-
derstanding the assembly relationship between modular-fixture elements
(Fig. 15):
1. Against. Face 1 is against face 2 when they are coplanar and with
opposite normals. This is the assembly relationship between a sup-
porting face of an element and a supported face of another. Let F,
= (V" PI)T and F2 = (V2' P
2
)T denote the positions and orientations
of face 1 and face 2, respectively. The against condition can be
represented by
(10)
where M is a mirror transformation matrix.
2. Align. A hole aligns another hole when their vectors lie along the
same line but in opposition. This is the assembly relationship be-
tween two holes. Similarly, let FI = (V" p))T and F2 = (V
2
, P
2
)T
denote the positions and orientations of hole 1 and hole 2, respec-
tively. The align condition can be represented by
where K is a constant.
3. Fit. A pin fits a hole when their vectors lie along the same line but
in opposition. This is an assembly relationship between a pin and
a hole. In the same way, let F, = (V), PI)T and F2 = (V
z
, pzf denote
the positions and orientations of the pin and the hole, respectively.
The fit condition can be represented by
4. Screw fit. A screw blot fits a screw hole when their vectors lie along
the same line but in opposition. Let FI = (V" p)T and FI = (V
l
,
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 185
Ft
(a) Against (b) Align
(c) Fit (d) Screw fit
vector V2 points to reader
(e) Across
Figure 15 Five basic relationships between fixtures.
P2f denote the positions and orientations of the screw blot and the
hole, respectively. The screw fit condition can be represented by
186 Chapter 6
5. Across. A fixing slot crosses a screw hole when the vector of the
fixing slot and the vector of the screw hole are coplanar and per-
pendicular. Let FI = (VI' PIY
f
and F2 = (V2' P
2
)T denote the positions
and orientations of the fixing slot and the screw hole, respectively.
The across condition can be represented by
( 14)
These five types of mating relationship cover the assembly relationships
between assembly features of fixture elements in most fixture designs.
(b) Assembly Criteria Between Fixture Elements
In order to establish the MFEARDB, the possible assembly relationships
between fixture elements need to be evaluated. By examining typical fixture
assembly structures, the following criteria in four cases for assembling two
fixture elements are employed in modular-fixture configuration design (Fig.
16). Let El donate a supporting fixture element and E2 a supported element.
Case 1. E2 can be assembled into a position on El if the following
conditions are satisfied: (I) A supporting face of El is against a
supported face of E
2
The face on El covers most of the face on E
2

(2) At least two locating holes of El align with locating holes of E
2

(3) One or more counterbore holes of E2 align with the screw holes
of El' (4) The body of El does not intersect the body of El'
The second half of condition I is a fuzzy condition. It ensures
a firm connection between elements. Condition 2 ensures a high
locating accuracy between two elements because locating pins can
be inserted into locating holes accurately. Condition 3 ensures that
two elements can be fixed together by using screws. Condition 4 is
obviously an important criterion for interference free. Once these
conditions are satisfied, an assembly relationship between fixture
elements El and E2 is identified and can be added to the MFEARDB.
Case 2. E2 can be assembled into a position on El if the following
conditions are satisfied: (I) the same as condition I in Case 1; (2)
the same as condition 3 in Case l, and (3) the same as condition 4
in Case 1.
The case is the same as the last one except the requirement of
the locating hole alignment. In this case, locating accuracy can be
only ensured in the direction of the vector of the supporting or
supported face.
Case 3. E2 can be assembled into a position on El if the following
conditions are satisfied: (I) the same as condition I in Case I. (2)
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 187
locating holes
counterbore
hole
case 2: Locating tower on edge block
o
case I: Edge block on console
screw holes
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ t fixing slot
o
o
o
case 4: Adjustable locating stop
o
case 3: Surface bar on console
Figure 16 Four cases of assembling two fixture elements.
188 Chapter 6
a fixing slot of Ez is across a screw hole of El, and (3) the same as
condition 4 in Case 1.
This case is similar to Case 2. Again, in this case, the locating
accuracy can be only ensured in the direction of the vector of the
supporting or supported face.
Case 4. Ez can be assembled into a position on El if the following
conditions are satisfied: (I) a screw of Ez fits the screw hole of El
when E2 is a screw bolt and (2) the same as condition 4 in Case I.
This kind of assembly case is usually used in an adjustable
locating fixture unit. The relative position between two elements is
fixed by a nut.
(c) Inference Assemb(v Relationship Between Element Pairs
Suppose two fixture elements El and E2 are an assembly pair. The assembly
features and geometry of the two fixture elements are retrieved from
MFEDDB. Let FI = (VI' PI)T denote a supporting face of El and F2 = (V
z
,
pzfr a supported face of E
z
. Assume PI! and P
IZ
are any two locating holes
on the supporting face and P
ZI
and P
n
are any two locating holes on the
supported face. Note that VI' P" P", P
12
and V
z
, P
z
, P
ZI
' P
n
are represented
in the fixture element local coordinate systems. If we can find a position
and orientation that satisfies the conditions (1) FI against F2 and (2) P" and
P
I2
align with P
ZI
and P
22
, respectively, the assembly position and orientation
of Ez on El can be obtained from solving assembly mating equations. Our
purpose is to find the position and orientation of Ez on El in El's local
coordinate system. The local coordinate systems of El and Ez are first made
coincidence. Then, after a series of transformations, E2 is translated and
rotated to a position and orientation that the relationship between E
z
and El
satisfies above conditions. Based on the mating conditions, we have
(15)
where T is a transformation matrix calculated from
including rotation transformation matrices about the x, y, and z axes and a
translation transformation matrix. T is further represented as
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 189
(
cos ~ cos "f cos ~ sin "f
T = -sin ex sin ~ cos 'Y - cos ex sin 'Y -sin ex sin ~ sin 'Y + cos ex cos 'Y
-cos 0: sin [3 cos "f + sin 0: sin "f -cos ex sin ~ sin "f - sin ex cos "f
x y
sin ~ o ~ O
sin ex cos ~
cos ex cos ~
z
The solution of above equations implies a potential assembly relation-
ship between El and E
2
. Solution (x, y, z) is the position coordinate of E2
on El in El's local coordinate system, and solution (ex, ~ , "I) is the orientation
coordinate of E2 on El in El's local coordinate system. Furthermore, we
should check whether conditions 3 and 4 in Case 1 are satisfied for El and
E2 in the above position and orientation (x, y, z, ex, ~ , "I). If the checking is
completed (x, y, z, ex, ~ , "I) will store in the MFEARDB as an assembly
relationship between El and E
2
. A similar approach can be used to test if
other assembly criteria are satisfied.
6.3.3 Assembly Relationship Reasoning System and Examples
Figure 17 shows the architecture of automatically reasoning assembly rela-
tionship engine. Once the MFEDDB is available, the reasoning engine will
examine all element pairs to find their assembly relationship. The results are
stored in an MFEARDB, which is based on the MFEARG model discussed
in (Mantyla, 1988). This information is used to automatically design the
modular-fixture configuration.
To illustrate the implementation of the method, an example is given in
which a console and a surface/edge block are chosen as El and E2 (Fig. 18).
VI' the vector of the supporting face FI of El, is (0, 0, 1, 0) and V
2
, the
vector of the supported face F2 of E2 is (0, 0, -1, 0). P
ll
= (60, 75, 120, 1)
and P
I2
= (30, 45, 120, 1) are the two locating holes on F
I
. P
21
= (45, 15,
0, 1) and P
22
= (IS, 45, 0, 1) are the two locating holes on F
2
. According to
Eq. (IS), one solution can be identified:
x = 75, Y = 30, Z = 120, a = 0, J3 = 0, 'Y = 90
The solution shows that there is a potential assembly relationship be-
tween El and E
2
, which satisfied the conditions (I) Fl against F2 and (2) P
ll
and P
l2
align with P
21
and P
22
, respectively. It is obvious, in further checking,
that conditions 3 and 4 are also satisfied. Therefore, there is an assembly
relationship between El and E2 with a high locating accuracy. The result can
be stored in the MFEARDB.
When more than two fixture elements are considered, the assembly re-
lationships can be established in pairs. Figure 19 shows three fixture
components-a console, a surface/edge block, and a surface locating tower.
Table 1 shows the reasoning result between the console and surface/edge
190
Modular
FlXlure

L-__ (MFEDB)
no
no
no
Chapter 6
Modular
FJX1ure
Element
L
______
Database P
yes (MFEARDB)
yes
Figure 17 Architecture of assembly relationship reasoning.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
191
'0
(0
s:1
C>
\}
Q C>
C)
\) (j
;,(1
yl
\}
\J
(a)
z2
[2
(b)
Figure 18 An example of reasoning assembly relationship between (a) console
and (b) surface/edge block.
block when the former serves as a supporting element and the latter a sup-
ported element. The assembly criteria can be satisfied with several possible
relative assembly positions, which are identified and stored into the
MFEARDB. It should be noted that for different assembly positions and
orientations, the effective fixturing function (e.g., locating direction) may be
different. When the console serves as a supported element and the surface/
Locating tower Surface/edge block Console
Figure 19 Examples of fixture elements.
Table 1 Assembly Relationship Reasoning Results of the Console and SurfacelEdge Block
Relative
Interference Potential
Relative position orientation
Percentage Is this a
assembly Locating checking of covered assembly
relationship x y Z <X
13 "Y
direction pass? area (%) relationship?
I 75 -1 120 0 0 90 All Yes 98 Yes
2 15 59 120 0 0 270 All Yes 98 Yes
3 45 -1 120 0 0 0 All Yes 98 Yes
4 105 59 120 0 0 180 All Yes 98 Yes
5 90 -1 120 0 0 90 All Yes 98 Yes
6 30 59 120 0 0 270 All Yes 98 Yes
7 30 -1 120 0 0 0 All Yes 98 Yes
8 90 59 120 0 0 180 All Yes 98 Yes
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 193
edge block as a supporting element, the assembly criteria are not satisfied,
especially because the area of supporting face is not large enough. Therefore,
there is no possible assembly relationship identified. Tables 2 and 3 show
the assembly relationships between the console (supporting element) and the
locating tower (supported element), and between the surface/edge block
(supporting element) and the locating tower (supported element). No assem-
bly relationship can be identified if the function role of the elements are
changed (e.g., supporting element to supported element). Figure 20 is a
sketch of the MFEARG based on the reasoning results among the fixture
element pairs, where the arrows show the assembly direction from a sup-
ported element to a supporting element and the numeral shows the possible
assembly positions between the two fixture elements. Once all fixture ele-
ments are checked in pairs for the assembly relationships, the MFEARDB
is actually established.
6.4 AUTOMATED FIXTURE CONFIGURATION DESIGN
Figure 21 shows a prototype AFCD system. Its input specifications are work-
piece and operational information, including geometry representation, work-
piece orientation, positions of locating and clamping points, and machining
envelope, which are extracted from a CAD model of the workpiece. The
outputs of the system are a fixture assembly drawing and a list of modular-
fixture elements with their positions and orientations. The AFCD system
includes three core modules: fixture unit generation and selection module,
fixture unit mount module, and interference checking module. The AFCD is
carried out in the following manner:
1. Based on the coordinates of locating and clamping points, an al-
gorithm is applied to calculate all acting heights of fixture units by
considering the least clearance between the workpiece and base-
plate, which is usually required for a minimum height of machine
tool operations.
2. The fixture unit generation and selection module is used to generate
suitable fixture units according to the acting heights.
3. The mounting algorithm is used to calculate a position that is suit-
able for a fixture unit mounted on the baseplate.
4. Finally, the interference checking module is called to check whether
the fixture unit at this position interferes with the machining enve-
lope, the workpiece, and other fixture units that have been mounted.
If interference checking is not completed, the fixture unit is adjusted to the
next candidate position. The mounting and interference checking procedure
Table 2 Assembly Relationship Reasoning Results of Console and Locating Tower
Relative
Potential
Relative position orientation
Interference Percentage Is this an
assembly Locating checking of covered assembly
relationship x y z ex
13 'Y
direction passed? area (%) relationship?
22 29 120 0 0 -
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
2 30 44 120 0 0 -
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
3 45 14 120 0 0 -
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
4 45 44 120 0 0
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
5 60 14 120 0 0 z Yes 100 Yes
6 60 29 120 0 0
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
7 75 14 120 0 0 -
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
8 75 44 120 0 0
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
9 90 44 120 0 0 -
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
10 98 29 120 0 0
a
Z Yes 100 Yes
aUnconstrained.
Q
.

":
0\
Table 3 Assembly Relationship Reasoning Results of Surface Block and Locating Tower
Relative
Potential
Relative position orientation
Interference
assembly Locating checking
relationship x y z ex
f3 'Y
direction passed?
30 15 20 0 0 -
a
Z Yes
2 30 30 20 0 0
a
Z Yes
3 45 30 20 0 0 z Yes
au nconstrained.
Percentage of
covered area
(%)
100
100
100
Is this an
assembly
relationship?
Yes
Yes
Yes
196 Chapter 6
Figure 20 Another example of constructing an MFEARG.
continues until the interference checking is completed. In some cases, no
candidate mounting position is acceptable. Another fixture unit candidate is
chosen to ensure that the final output be a collision-free fixture design. To
display the design result visually on the computer screen or to get a hardcopy
from a plotter, a postprocessor is used to calculate the positions and orien-
tation of all fixture elements used in AFeD.
6.4.1 Fixture Unit Generation Module
In the algorithm for generating and selecting a fixture unit, all possible
assembly relationships in building fixture units are presented in correspon-
dence with MFEARGs. When the acting height of a fixture unit is input, a
fixture unit forming algorithm is applied to search all possible combinations
by a tree-search approach and discover all fixture unit candidates which
satisfy the acting height. In the algorithm, locators and clamps (the fixture
elements directly in contact with the workpiece) are first selected. The fixture
elements are then selected from the one next to the locator (or clamp) to
the bottom element, which is directly mounted to the baseplate. Therefore,
this is the so-called top-down fixture unit formation algorithm. Assuming a
locator or clamp is selected as Vj, we get a subdigraph G' of G:
G
'
= (V', E') (16)
where V' V and E' E.
In G' , Vi is the only fixture element with a zero in-degree. The directed
path originally starts from Vi' Subdigraph G I represents all possible fixture
element assembly relationships when Vi is chosen as the locator or clamp.
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
List of Elements and
Their Positions and
Orientation
Fixture Assembly
Modular
Fixture
~ _ I Element
Assembly
Relationship
Database
~ I
Drawing Display
Modular
Fixture
Element
Drawing
Database
Figure 21 Automated fixture configuration design system.
197
198 Chapter 6
The process to generate a fixture unit becomes a search process in G' with
the objective of finding the directed paths Vi Vjl v
j2
Vjm which
satisfy the following acting height constraint:
m
H = h(v,) + 2: h(v
Jk
) (17)
k=1
where h(v) is the acting height of fixture element v and H is the acting
height desired for the fixture unit.
The fixture unit candidates are listed in three sequences according to
(1) the number of fixture elements used in the fixture unit, (2) the total
weight of the unit, and (3) the volume of the unit. When an especially high
accuracy or stiffness is required, the fixture unit with the least number of
elements is chosen with priority. In the case when a light fixture body is
desired, the lightest fixture unit is first selected. If the spatial restriction
becomes a major problem in the process of fixture unit mounting, the fixture
unit with the smallest volume is the one selected. Other optimization meth-
ods can also be applied with different criteria.
6.4.2 Fixture Unit Mount Module
At the fixture unit generation stage, only fixture elements are selected and
the top-down assembly relationships between fixture elements are deter-
mined. The exact positions and orientations between fixture elements needs
to be further determined at the fixture unit mounting stage. The mounting
procedure can be conducted in two steps: (1) mounting the bottom element
of fixture unit onto the baseplate and (2) determining the positions and
orientations of other fixture elements, which is presented in Sect. 6.4.3.
To mount the bottom element onto the baseplate, the following factors
are taken into consideration: the position and orientation of the workpiece,
the suggested locating or clamping points, the machining envelope, the po-
sition possessed by other mounted fixture units, and the positions of bushed
and tapped holes on the baseplate. The mounting requirements include a
satisfaction of the acting point position of the unit to the desired fixturing
point and the assembly relationship between the bottom element of the unit
and the baseplate. The algorithm for mounting bottom elements is similar
to that presented in (Bai and Rong, 1993; Trappey et aI., 1993).
When fixture units are mounted on a baseplate, the baseplate size is
selected from the fixture component database based on the workpiece size
and an estimation of the space required for fixture configuration design is
made, although it may be changed later. Figure 22 shows a typical baseplate
with locating holes and tapped holes. As discussed earlier, the global coor-
dinate system is associated with the baseplate. Two parameters are used to
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
199
y
T
v
M
M
t5::
0
():
0
t5::
::0:
0
'(5 C) ::0:
(M-I)
0
:()::
0
:0.:
0 0
:():
0
:(5::
0
::0:
0
:()::
0
::0: ::0:
0
::0:
0
::0:
0
:()::
0
:0.:
0
::0:
0
:0:
0
X
0 ::0:
0
::0:
0
:'():
0
-I
0
:0:
0
:0:
0
:0:
0
:()
0
d:'
0
t5::
0
:0:
0
t:J
0
:()::
0
:0::
0
:'()
-(M-I)O ::():
0
::0.: 0
:()
0
::0.:
0
:,d.:
0
-M ::():
0
:()
0
::0.:
0
:0::
0
::0:
0
::(J
u -N -(N-I) -2 -I 0 2 (N-I) N
Figure 22 Representation of baseplate in a dowel-pin-based fixture system.
indicate the positions of the center of locating or tapped holes on the surface
of baseplate, which are integers u and v in the ranges of ( - N, N) and (-M,
M). For the modular-fixture system, the screws and holes are alternatively
and evenly distributed in two dimensions (X and Y). The center positions
of tapped holes on the baseplate can be represented parametrically as
Xs = 2Tu + Tv + 1) mod 2)
(18)
Ys = Tv
The center positions of locating holes on the baseplate can be represented
as
x
h
= 2Tu + T(v mod 2)
(19)
where u = -N, ... , -3, -2, -1,0,1, 2, 3, ... , N and v = -M, ... , -3,
- 2, - I, 0, I, 2, 3, ... , M. T is a spacing increment between the tapped
and locating holes in the row or column directions. In the modular-fixture
200 Chapter 6
system, there are three series of modular fixtures with a uniformed spacing
increment (e.g., T = 30, 40, or 50 mm).
In mounting a fixture unit onto the baseplate, a fixturing point (x*, y*,
z*) and direction is the target to be approached by the acting point and
acting direction of the unit. The acting height of the unit is designed to
approach the target in the z direction, which is presented by Eq. (17). There-
fore, the fixturing point is projected onto the XOY plane with the target (x *,
y*). The two parameters are determined for the center position of the tapped
hole on the baseplate which is nearest to point (x *, y*):
v* - div (y* + 05)
- T .
(20)
u* = dlV + 0.5
. (x* - Tdiv(y*/T + 0.5) + I) mod 2) )
2T
The coordinates of the nearest tapped hole can be calculated using Eq.
(18), where u* and v* are the variables. The determination of the center
position of the locating hole follows a similar procedure and is sometimes
not necessary when standard modular-fixture elements are utilized, because
these holes are evenly distributed. The mounting range of a fixture unit
largely depends on the fixturing direction. Once the fixturing direction is
specified, an acceptable mount range can be determined by considering the
information of the fixture unit, mainly the bottom element of the unit. The
geometric and assembly relationship information of the bottom element is
recalled to match the holes on the baseplate, as discussed earlier.
6.4.3 Position of Fixture Unit Acting Point
After the position and orientation of the bottom element of a fixture unit is
decided, positions and orientations of other fixture elements in the fixture
unit can be determined. Then the position of the fixturing unit acting point
can be determined, which is desired to be at the closest to the required
locating/clamping position. There is usually a number of assembly positions
between two fixture elements. For different fixture elements selected to build
a fixture unit, there may be many combinations between those fixture ele-
ments. Figure 23 shows a sketch of all possible position assembly combi-
nations between the fixture elements, where a series of matrices A present
position relationships between two fixture elements. AliI (i
l
= 1, 2, ... , n
l
)
are the position relationship matrices between the top element and the ele-
ment supporting it. A
ti
, (i[ = I, 2, ... , n
t
) are the position relationship ma-
trices between the baseplate and the bottom element, which are obtained
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
No. t (bottom)
element
No. t-I
element
Figure 23 Position assembly combinations of fixtures.
No. I (top)
element
201
from the bottom element mounting. nl and n
t
are the numbers of candidate
mounting locations for the top and bottom elements. Therefore, we can see
that the first subscript of the transformation matrix A is a sequential index
of a fixture element from the top element and the second subscript indicates
the possible assembly relationship of the current element with the element
under it.
In automated fixture-design process, the assembly relationship between
every two connecting elements in a fixture is retrieved from the fixture
element assembly relationship database. The assembly relationship includes
relative position and orientation between two fixture elements. Let us assume
elements i and i + 1 are two directly connecting elements in a fixture unit.
Element i is the supported element and element i + 1 is the supporting
element. If Ai denotes the transformation matrix between elements i and i
+ 1 local coordinate systems, it can be described by a 4 X 4 homogeneous
matrix in the following form:
(21)
where U is a 3 X 3 matrix representing a rotation of the two coordinate
systems and d is a 1 X 3 vector representing the translation of the assembly
pair coordinate systems.
By recalling the fixture-element representation described in Sect. 3.2,
the relative position of element i in the element i + I coordinate system
(Pi+l, U
i
+
h
V
i
+
h
W
i
+
l
) is represented by the coordinates of its origin Pi(X:,
202 Chapter 6
y:, z:) in the (Pi+l, Ui+-I' V
i
+
I
' W
i
+
l
) system and the orientation of element i
in (Pi+" u
i
+" V
i
+
h
Wi+l) is represented by the directional cosines of the unit
vectors of Ui, Vi' and W
i
in the (Pi+" u
i
+ I, Vi t" wJ system, as shown in Fig.
8. Ai can be expressed as
[ a;.
a;.
I
~ l
a'i
A. ~ b;,
b;i b;i
(22)
c ~ C;i C;i
x; y:
I
Zi
By using the transformation matrix A, the transformation between local
coordinate systems can be computed through composing A matrices. If the
transformation is from the i-th to the j-th coordinate system (assuming j >
i), the final transformation matrix becomes T
ii
, which is given by
(23)
When i = 1 and j = n, where n is the number of elements in a fixture unit,
we get the transformation matrix between top element and baseplate. Equa-
tion (23) gives the transformation relationship between the acting point of
a fixture unit and the global coordinate system of the baseplate in a specific
combination of fixture element assemblies. When all possible combinations
are considered, a best fixture unit candidate can be selected to approach the
desired acting point with accuracy.
Assume that (x*, y*, z*) are coordinates of the suggested point of lo-
cating or clamping in the baseplate (global) coordinate system and (x
a
, Ya,
za) are coordinates of the contacting point (or acting point) of locator or
clamp with the workpiece in its own (local) coordinate system. A set of
acting point coordinates of the locator or clamp in the baseplate coordinate
system, (x, y, z), can be calculated as
i, = I, 2, ... , 0,; i2 = I, 2, ... , O
2
; ; ir = I. 2, ... ,Or (24)
For different assembly combinations, the coordinates of the acting point
of the locator or clamp may be changed. The combination that makes the
acting point of locator or clamp closest to the suggested locating or clamping
point are the ones we want to choose; that is,
(x* - X)2 + (y* - yi + (z* - Z)2 ~ mioimum (25)
Once the best combination is found, the position and orientation of the
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 203
fixture elements in the baseplate coordinate system can be calculated based
on the bottom-up calculation procedure.
6.4.4 Determination of Spatial Positions of Fixture Elements
In the fixture unit generation algorithm, the fixture unit mounting algorithm,
and the interference checking algorithm, we need to transfer the position
and orientation of the fixture elements from local coordinate systems into
the global coordinate system.
Let (x
i
+ I, Yi+ I, Zi+ I) denote the coordinates of the origin Pi+ 1 of fixture
element i + 1 and axi+l, ayi+l, a
zi
+
1
and bXi+l> bYi+l> b'i+1 be the direction
cosines of the coordinate axes in the global coordinate system O(X, Y, Z).
Then, the coordinate of Pi(X
i
, Yi' zJ in O(X, Y, Z) is calculated by applying
the transformation matrix:
[ a,,,,
a yi + 1 a,,+1

' , , bxi + 1 b
Yi
+
1 b'i+1
(26)
(Xi' Yi' zJ = (Xi' Yi' Zi)
Cxi + 1 Cyi + I C,i+1
Xi + 1 Yi+l Zi+ I
To determine the orientation of fixture element i in O(X, Y, Z), the
direction cosines of the first two axes of the local coordinate system are
calculated as
[ ]T [
a xi axi + I ayi +1
]
ay. = a;i b"i + I b
Yi
+ 1 b,,+1
az. cxi + I Cyi +
1 C,.+l
(27a)
[ r
b
xi
[ a<H'
a yi + 1
a"H]
b
Yi
= b;i b;,J b"i+1 b yi + 1 b,,+l
b
Zi C"i+1 Cyi + I C,,+l
(27b)
The direction cosines of the third coordinate axis is not independent and can
be calculated as presented in Eq. (7).
Suppose there are t fixture elements in a fixture unit and we want to
determine the position and orientation of each element in the fixture unit.
First, the position and orientation of bottom element of fixture unit in O(X,
Y, Z) is determined by the fixture unit mounting algorithm. The bottom
element is considered as the t-th element in the fixture unit. By using Eqs.
(26) and (27), and the information about the assembly relationship between
the bottom element and the element t - 1 (the element which rests on
bottom element directly), the position and orientation of element t - I in
O(X, Y, Z) can be determined. Repeating this procedure (a bottom-up pro-
204 Chapter 6
cedure), we can determine the positions and orientations of all fixture ele-
ments in the fixture unit.
6.4.5 Interference Checking Module
Interference checking is a necessary step in AFCD, which is quite different
from a real fixture design process, in which fixture elements cannot be placed
on the position other objects already possess. Without interference checking
function, a CAFD system may not generate practically useful fixture config-
urations. Because a large amount of calculations are needed for interference
checking in AFCD, a fast algorithm is important to the design process. In
our system, the interference checking is performed in three 2-D projection
views. When a fixture unit is placed on a position by the mounting algorithm,
the geometry of each fixture element in the unit is projected onto the three
orthogonal coordinate planes. Standard 2-D interference checking algorithms
are used to check whether the projections of the fixture element penetrate
the machining envelope, workpiece, and each fixture element in other fixture
units (Foley et aI., 1989). Once it is found that there is no penetration in a
2-D plane, an interference-free condition is identified for the fixture unit.
The interference checking is performed from one 2-D plane to another, until
the interference-free condition is identified for all fixture units. The checking
result is sent to the fixture unit mount or fixture unit generation module for
a proper response.
6.5 FIXTURE CONFIGURATION DESIGN EXAMPLES
AND SUMMARY
Figure 24 shows a fixture configuration design example by using the AFCD
system. The input information is extracted from a CAD model of the work-
piece with process planning information. Table 4 sketches the input file
format. Eight fixture units are generated in the fixture design. The AFCO
system provides two kinds of outputs. One is the fixture assembly document,
which lists the elements used and their positions and orientations. The other
is the fixture assembly drawing. Table 5 shows an example of fixture assem-
bly document. The corresponding fixture assembly drawings are shown with-
out the work piece in Fig. 24a and with the workpiece in Fig. 24b.
Computer-aided modular-fixture design is a means to implement flexible
fixturing methodology in FMS and CIMS. An automated fixture configura-
tion design (AFCD) system is presented in this chapter, which is based on
a modular-fixture structure analysis. Fixture structure is decomposed into
fixture units, elements. and functional surfaces. MFEARG is developed to
Automated Fixture Configuration Design
205
Figure 24 (a) Example of a modular-fixture design without a workpiece; (b) ex-
ample of a modular-fixture design with a workpiece.
represent assembly relationships between fixture elements. Algorithms are
developed to automatically search and select fixture elements to form fixture
units, mount the units onto a baseplate, and determine spatial positions of
each fixture element in the fixture configuration design. The AFCD system
can be potentially integrated with a CAPP and NC programming system,
206 Chapter 6
Table 4 Input Data File Fonnat
Input data file fonnat
LM 1
NV 0.00 0.00 - 1.00
NLP 6
C 260.00 60.00 0.00 10.00
L 220.00 180.00 0.00 220.00
20.00 0.00
A 275.00 20.00 0.00 300.00 45.00
0.00 27.32 292.68 0.00
LP 280.00 96.00 0.00
LP 40.00 70.00 0.00
LP 40.00 120.00 0.00
E
NV 0.00 - 1.00 0.00
NV 1.00 0.00 0.00
NCS I
NV 0.00 0.00 1.00
CP 280.00 100.00 40.00
CP 50.00 100.00 40.00
WPP
XYL 275.00 180.00 45.00 180.00
ZXL 20.00 40.00 100.00 40.00
YZL 180.00 0.00 180.00 180.00
MEP
XYL 24.00 196.00 124.00 196.00
ZXL 250.00 188.00 80.00 188.00
YZL 190.00 182.00 190.00 154.00
Explanation
3-2-1 Locating method
Nonnal vector of primary locating
surface
Circle on primary locating surface
Boundary line segment of primary
locating surface
Boundary arc segment of primary
locating surface
Coordinates of locating point on primary
locating surface
Coordinates of locating point on primary
locating surface
Coordinates of locating point on primary
locating surface
Normal vector of secondary locating
surface
Normal vector of tertiary locating
surface
The number of clamping surface
Normal vector of clamping surface
Coordinates of clamping point
Coordinates of clamping point
Workpiece profile segment on X- Y
projection plane
Workpiece profile segment on Z-X
projection plane
Workpiece profile segment on Y-Z
projection plane
Machining envelope segment on X- Y
projection plane
Machining envelope segment on Z-X
projection plane
Machining envelope segment on Y-Z
projection plane
Automated Fixture Configuration Design 207
TableS An Example of a Fixture Assembly Document Baseplate Number 40
Fixturing
Acting point Acting direction
unit #1 135.00 -15.00 60.00 0.00 0.00 1.00
Element #1 Position Orientation
033 135.00 -15.00 40.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00
052 150.00 0.00 20.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
052 150.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
Unit #2 -105.00 -45.00 60.00 0.00 0.00 1.00
033 -105.00 -45.00 40.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
052 -120.00 -30.00 20.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00
052 -120.00 -30.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00
Unit #3 -105.00 0.00 60.00 0.00 0.00 1.00
033 -105.00 0.00 40.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
052 -90.00 0.00 20.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
052 -90.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
Unit #4 -45.00 -95.00 90.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
119 -45.00 -135.00 90.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00
058 -45.00 -120.00 50.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00
145 -30.00 -150.00 25.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
145 -60.00 -150.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
Unit #5 75.00 -95.00 90.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
119 75.00 -135.00 90.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00
058 75.00 -120.00 50.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00
145 90.00 -150.00 25.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 0.00
145 60.00 -150.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
Unit #6 55.00 -15.00 80.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00
119 195.00 -15.00 80.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00
058 180.00 -15.00 40.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 1.00 0.00 0.00
052 180.00 -30.00 20.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00
052 180.00 -30.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00 0.00
Unit #7 135.00 15.00 100.00 0.00 0.00 -1.00
117 180.00 30.00 145.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
118 180.00 30.00 140.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
112 180.00 30.00 77.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
188 180.00 30.00 90.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00 -0.95 -0.32 0.00
119 135.00 15.00 101.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
170 218.48 42.83 118.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
112 198.97 40.14 99.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
166 217.95 39.28 78.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
I51c 180.00 30.00 0.00 0.95 0.32 0.00 -0.32 0.95 0.00
208 Chapter 6
TableS Continued
Fixturing
Acting point Acting direction
unit #1 135.00 -15.00 60.00 0.00 0.00 1.00
Element #1 Position Orientation
Unit #8 -95.00 -15.00 100.00 0.00 0.00
-].00
117 -150.00 0.00 145.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
]18 -150.00 0.00 140.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
1 ]2 - ]50.00 0.00 77.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
188 -150.00 0.00 90.00 -0.26 -0.97 0.00 0.97 -0.26
119 -95.00 -15.00 101.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
170 -179.90 8.15 118.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
112 -169.30 5.26 99.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
166 -188.59 10.53 78.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
]5]c
-150.00 0.00 0.00 -0.97 0.26 0.00 -0.26 -0.97
which may significantly enhance the flexibility of production systems and
reduce the manufacturing planning time.
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231-235.
7
Constraint-Based Fixture
Asselllbly Modeling
and Design
In CAD/CAM integration, the development of automated fixture-design sys-
tems capable of handling various part geometries is a pertinent link. The
function of a fixture is to locate and hold a workpiece in position during
certain manufacturing processes such as machining, welding, inspection, and
assembly. Recently, the research work on a modular-fixturing system (MFS)
has formed a significant part of the investigations into the development of
automated fixture-design systems. The objective of an MFS is to achieve
the flexibility through mUltipurpose fixturing. A modular fixture is built up
from a combination of standard fixture components. A large variety of con-
figurations can be obtained by using different combinations of these com-
ponents. The modular-fixture components can be reused to reduce the capital
investment and manufacturing leadtime (Thompson and Ghandi, 1986; Zhu,
1990). An example of a modular fixture is shown in Fig. 1.
Modular fixture design procedure can be divided into three steps: setup
planning, fixture planning, and fixture configuration design (Bai and Rong,
1 995b ). Setup planning is to determine the number of setups needed, the
orientation of workpiece in each setup, and machining surfaces in each setup.
Fixture planning is to determine the locating and clamping surfaces and
points on the workpiece within specific setups. Also, fixture configuration
design is to select fixture components and place them into a final configu-
ration to locate and clamp the workpiece; this procedure may include a
procedure of interactive design and automated design by the method which
the fixture assembly is generated. The interactive approach requires the user
to build the fixture assembly by manually manipulating the geometric mod-
els of fixture components on the screen, usually by specifying each fixture
2Jl
212 Chapter 7
Figure 1 An example of a modular-fixture design.
component's absolute location or its spatial relationships with other com-
ponents. The automated fixture-design approach makes use of the fixturing
information (part geometry, orientation, machining envelope, locating!
clamping surfaces and points, etc.) to generate the fixture assembly auto-
matically.
The effectiveness of future CAD systems will depend in large part on
the ease with which geometric models can be created and modified (Light
and Gossard, 1982). Today, one of the most convenient ways of modeling
a product with CAD is the method of variational design, or modeling with
constraints.
A geometric constraint is the relationship between two geometric fea-
tures. A constraint-based geometry model is an object defined by a system
of geometric constraints (Roller et aI., 1988). The object is automatically
constructed by solving the constraint network. There are two kinds of geo-
metric constraints: topological and dimensional (Dufourd et aI., 1997). The
topological constraints express incidence and adjacency relationships be-
tween the elements of the object, whereas the dimensional constraints ex-
press the form and the metrics of the object. In modeling the modular-fixture
assembly presented in this chapter, the constraints between fixture com-
ponents are discussed where there are only topological constraints con-
cerned.
Constraint-based modeling not only eases the creation of the product
model but also the modification and manipulation of the CAD model. The
advantages of the constraint-based modeling of the modular-fixture assembly
method compared with previous work include the associativity in fixture
design. Once the constraints are specified, the assembly relations are main-
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
213
tained even if other conditions change, especially in the process of design
modification. The constraint definitions and satisfaction are presented. The
application of the method to modular-fixture configuration design is in-
troduced.
7.1 RELATED RESEARCH
The related research includes automated fixture configuration design, con-
straint-based assembly modeling, and constraint satisfaction and position
inference.
7.1.1 Automated Fixture Configuration Design
The modular-fixture configuration design is similar to the design of an as-
sembly process. Some previous work in the assembly area provided valuable
information for analyzing assembly relationships between modular-fixture
components (Lee and Gossard, 1985; Ambler and Popplestone, 1975). For
given locating and clamping points on workpiece surfaces, fixture compo-
nents can be selected to hold the workpiece based on CAD graphic functions
(Sakal and Chow, 1991). A method to automatically design the configuration
of T-slot-based modular-fixture components was presented where a matrix
representation was applied to search and identify objects and object inter-
sections (Whybrew and Ngoi, 1990). A methodology was studied for deter-
mining the location and orientation of a dowel-pin-based modular fixture in
a two-dimensional (2-D) projection basis (Trappey et aI., 1993). A 2-D al-
gorithm was developed to determine round pin-Iocator positions while the
modular assembly relationships are maintained (Brost and Goldberg, 1996).
A prototype system for automatically designing dowel-pin modular-fixture
configurations was developed (Bai and Rong, 1995a) in which the funda-
mental structure of dowel-pin-based modular fixtures and the fixture char-
acteristics of commonly used modular-fixture components were investigated.
A modular-fixture component assembly relationship graph model was intro-
duced to represent basic combination relationships of modular fixture com-
ponents (Bai and Rong, 1995b).
7.1.2 Constraint-Based Modeling
Modeling with constraints is a modem approach to product modeling. It
contains a high potential for the efficient working in all steps of the design
cycle. The main aspects of modeling with constraints are structuring a solid
214 Chapter 7
model as a history of features, using topology objects and their geometric
coordinates as parameters and applying constraints to these objects.
The constraints in most early studies are defined only for the basic
mating conditions such as "fit," "against," and "parallel" (Kim and Lee.
1989; Lee and Gossard, 1985; Lee and Andrews, 1985). Therefore, the fea-
tures involved in the constraints are the basic part features such as planar
surfaces, cylindrical hole, and boss. The extensions of mating conditions
were recommended, such as "spherical fits," "screw fits," "gear contact,"
and so forth (Rocheleau and Lee, 1987). Furthermore, the features and
constraints were divided into two levels: assembly feature level and IG
(intermediate geometry) level (Silva, 1991). The assembly-level features are
those features specified in a primary mating condition and the constraints of
this level include "tits," "against," and "parallel." The IG-Ievel features
are the intermediate geometries decomposed from the features of the assem-
bly feature level. The constraints in this level include "planar," "coplanar.'
"offset," "parallel," "collinear," "orthogonal," and "angular." By divid-
ing the constraints in such a way, it was easy to analyze the degrees of
freedom (DOFs), to derive the joint information, and to infer the positions
of elements. In these works, because of the limited constraints provided, the
user may sometimes tind it difficult or inconvenient to add constraints
between parts.
The constraints and features in this study are divided into two levels:
primary constraints and secondary constraints. This classification makes it
possible to represent a large variety of constraints and extend the high-level
constraints easily. without disturbing the constraint-satisfaction module.
7.1.3 Constraint Satisfaction and Position Inference
Research in geometric constraint satisfaction can be classified roughly as
symbolic or numeric in nature (Anantha et aI., 1996). Both approaches rep-
resent geometric constraints as nonlinear equations which are solved to de-
termine the values of geometric variables that determine the configuration
in question. The approaches differ in the manner in which the equations are
solved.
Symbolic approaches to geometric constraint satisfaction use computer
algebra techniques to determine the order in which equations can be solved
most efficiently. From the constraint-object detinitions, a system of nonlinear
polynomials was developed and transformed into the Grobner basis, which
allowed the equations to be ordered by "simplicity" (Buchanan and de
Pennington, 1993). The system was solved by univariate equation solving
and back substitution. It can recognize overconstrained and underconstrained
equation sets and processes them appropriately. A system for algebraically
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 215
solving geometric constraints was described as quadratic equations, includ-
ing 2-D points, lines, and circular arcs that were constructed by ruler and
compass techniques (Dwen, 1991). The constraints were converted into a
graph that was recursively decomposed at "articulation pairs" of nodes such
that the graph was separated into two or more subgraphs. The cases were
handled with multiple solutions by maintaining topological relationships
among the geometric entities. A commercial constraint solver based on this
work is available from D-Cubed Ltd.
Numerical constraint-satisfaction algorithms differ from the symbolic
approaches in that the system of non linear equations is solved numerically.
The Newton-Raphson iteration was used to solve equations where con-
straints were associated with characteristic points, including construction
points (Light and Gossard, 1982). This approach was improved by incor-
porating a least squares technique in the iteration to handle redundant equa-
tions (Rocheleau and Lee, 1987). Instead of solving all the equations si-
multaneously, the whole assembly was divided into a couple of independent
loops and the equations were solved separately, thus reducing the compu-
tational time significantly (Kim and Lee, 1989).
Symbolic and numerical constraint-satisfaction approaches have
strengths and weaknesses. Symbolic approaches tend to be computationally
intensive, but are not subject to the instabilities of numerical approaches.
Symbolic approaches can locate all solutions to constraint equations,
whereas the solutions located by numerical algorithms depend on the starting
point of the iteration. The symbolic approaches may be combined with the
numerical approaches so that systems of constraints are solved without
requiring the simultaneous solution of nonlinear constraint equations
(Anantha et aI., 1996).
In this study, assembly features of fixture components are represented
as secondary constraint features and the final assembly is represented in
terms of constraints. Mating conditions are classified as primary constraints
and secondary constraints, with the advantage that the assembly features of
fixture components are independent of the constraint solver. A new repre-
sentation of a joint is proposed in this work, which extends the joint infor-
mation to include two "motion geometries" (MGs). The new joint definition
can be used to represent the joint information in a more flexible way, im-
proving the capability of the component's position inference and joint in-
formation derivation.
7.2 CONSTRAINT-BASED ASSEMBLY MODELING
The principle of constraint-based assembly modeling is presented in this
section. The mating condition is discussed first. Constraints are divided into
216 Chapter 7
two levels and defined respectively. The joint between components is defined
to represent the OOF between components. A mating graph (a constraint
network) is adopted to represent the constrained assembly in an abstract
level. The result of mating-graph analysis is used to infer component's po-
sition and derive the joint information.
7.2.1 Mating Conditions
A constraint is a specified restriction on the relative location between two
components. A mating condition includes two components and all the con-
straints added between them. Constraints are divided into two levels: primary
constraints and secondary constraints. Each level of constraint is imple-
mented in terms of features of its own level. The secondary-level constraints
are built upon the primary-level constraints. The reason to divide the con-
straints into two levels is to separate the high-level features from the position
inference solver, thus making the solver independent of those features. Be-
cause the high-level features (secondary features) tend to be changed in
different circumstances such as redefining, deleting, and adding features to
original ones. The primary features are much more unlikely to be changed,
so the solver can remain untouched whenever a new feature is created.
(a) Primary Constraints
A primary constraint includes two primary features and the relationship be-
tween them. The primary features are three types of basic geometry: point,
line, and plane. In this study, the primary features are treated as infinite (i.e.,
lines and planes without bound). The relations between primary features are
the distance and angle. When lines and planes have a distance between them,
they are assumed to be parallel to each other. All primary constraints are
represented in the "relation(featurel, feature2) = value" format. Table I is
a list of all possible primary constraints.
Each primary feature is represented by a "marker," which is essentially
a coordinate frame attached to the primary feature. Markers on the primary
features are defined as follows:
Point: The origin of the marker coincides with the point (Fig. 2a).
Line: The z axis of the marker coincides with the line and has the
same direction (Fig. 2b).
Plane: The origin of the marker falls in the plane, and the z axis has
the same direction as the plane's normal direction (Fig. 2c).
Once a marker is generated for each primary feature, the constraint
between two features can be expressed as a transformation matrix between
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
Table 1 Primary Constraints
Constraint no.
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
Primary constraints
Distance(point, point) = d
Distance(point, line) = d
Distance(point, plane) = d
Distance(line, point) = d
Distance(1ine, line) = d
Distance(line, plane) = d
Distance(plane, point) = d
Distance(plane, line) = d
Distance(plane, plane) = d
Angle(line, line) = a
Angle(1ine, plane) = a
Angle(plane. line) = a
Angle(plane, plane) = a
217
the two markers; this matrix is called a mating matrix. When MA and MB
are two markers associated with primary features FA and FB, respectively,
as shown in Fig. 3, the mating matrix becomes a 4 X 4 homogeneous matrix,
that is,
(I)
where n, 0, and a are the normal directions of the x, y, z axes in MB with
reference to MA, and p is the origin of MB in MA. The directional cosines
of these vectors appear in Eq. (1).
a
b c
Figure 2 Markers of primary features.
218 Chapter 7
x x
Figure 3 Markers on components A and B.
(b) Secondary Constraints
A secondary constraint contains two secondary features and the relationship
between them. Compared with primary features, which are for modeling and
computing purposes, the secondary features are high-level features exposed
directly to users. These features are vertex, edge, face, hole. boss, slot, V-
surface. and so forth. Eight most commonly used secondary constraints in
the fixture assembly modeling are adopted in this study as illustrated in Fig.
4:
1. Planar-planar against
2. Cylindrical-planar against
3. Cylindrical fit
4. Single hole-hole align
5. Dual hole-hole align
6. Edge contact
7. Slot fit
8. V-block contact
Like secondary features, each secondary constraint can also be repre-
sented by a primary constraint or decomposed into several primary con-
straints. The decomposition of the eight secondary constraints shown in
Fig. 4 is listed in Table 2.
(c) Mating Conditions
There may be more than one secondary constraint between two components.
The secondary constraints are decomposed into a collection of primary con-
straints. A mating condition is composed of all the primary constraints
between two components. These primary constraints are used to infer the
relative position between the two components.
The two components with constraints are treated differently, one as the
"master" component and the other as the "slave" one. The master com-
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
PLANE)
PLANE2
a. Planar-Planar Against

'- LINEl
l g PLANE I
h. Cylindrical-Planar
c. Cylindrical Fit
LINEl
LINE2
d. Hole-Hole Align
Figure 4 Secondary constraints.
219
LINEl
LINE3
LINE2 LINE4
e. Dual Hole Align
PLANEl
LINE2
LlNEl
PLANE4
PLANE3
f. Edge Contact
LINE)
PLANE3 t
g. Slot Fit
h. V-Block Contact
220 Chapter 7
Table 2 Secondary Constraint Decomposition
Secondary constraint
Planar-planar against
Cylindrical-planar against
Cylindrical fit
Single hole-hole align
Dual hole-hole align
Edge contact
Slot fit
V-block contact
"R is the radius of the cylinders.
No. of
primary
constraints
I
2
I
2
I
2
I
2
Primary constraints
Distance(PLANEl, PLANE2) = 0
Distance(LINE I, PLANE I) = R"
Distance(LINE I, LINE2) = 0
Disstance(LINE 1, LINE2) = 0
Distance(LINE I, LINE2) = 0
Distance(LINE3, LINE4) = 0
Distance(LINE 1, LINE2) = 0
Angle(PLANE I, PLANE2) = 180
0
Distance(LINE I, PLANE I) = R
Distance(PLANE2, PLANE3) = 0
Distance(LINE 1, PLANE I) = R
Distance(LINE I, PLANE2) = R
ponent is the reference component for the slave component. Any constraint
between the two components is from the slave component and to the master
one. For instance, if a line of component A coincides with a plane of com-
ponent B, and component B is the master component, the primary constraint
should be "distance(line, plane) = 0." All primary constraints are expressed
in the format "Relationship(slave-feature, master-feature) = value." Whether
a component is a master or slave component is determined by the mating
graph, in which a father node component is the master and the son node
component is the slave. All the constraints between two components must
have the same master and slave components.
7 .2.2 Joint Representation
A joint is an allowable relative motion between two components and can be
either a "translation" or a "rotation" joint. A joint does not include the
location information of the components, and a joint can refer to any coor-
dinate system as its reference location.
The joint definition is from Kim and Lee's work (1989) and is extended
to allow a more flexible representation of joints and thus, improving the
capability of joint derivation and position inference. In this work, there are
two types of joints studied in fixture assembly modeling: translation joints
and rotation joints.
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
221

............. . ..... ...
........................
Figure 5 Direction motion geometries.
(a) Translation Joints
The translation joint indicates that a relative translation is allowed between
two components. A translation joint contains the following information: the
translation direction and a reference coordinate system.
A vector starting from the origin point is used to determine the trans-
lation direction and the end point of the vector is specified by a direction
motion geometry (DMG). DMG is a geometry within which the vector's
end point falls; this can be a point, line, plane, or space (Fig. 5).
A reference coordinate system (RCS) specifies to which coordinate sys-
tem (CS) the DMG refers. It makes the joint representation more flexible in
describing a complex joint. Different joints between two components do not
necessarily refer to the same CS. The RCS can be any defined CS in the
workspace, such as the absolute CS, the component local CS, a certain
marker's CS, or a user-defined CS.
(b) Rotation Joints
The rotation joint indicates that a relative rotation is allowed between two
components. A rotation joint contains the following information: a rotation
axis and a RCS. The rotation axis is composed of a point on the axis and a
vector which specifies the axis' direction. As for the translation joint, a DMG
is used to specify the vector's direction and a point motion geometry (PMG)
is used to specify the point's location for the rotation joint. The PMG is a
geometry within which the point is located; this can be a point, line, plane,
or space. If the PMG is a line, it means that there is a fixed rotation axis
for the joint, whereas if the PMG is a point, it means that there is no rotation
joint.
7.2.3 Mating Graph
The graph theory is applied to represent the assembly as a mating graph, in
which the components correspond to nodes and the constraints to branches
(Kim and Lee, 1989). Figure 6a is an example assembly in the modular-
222 Chapter 7
+--- D
5 -----fr1
4
6
+---- 3
rt--+---,.-.--+-+.
7 -----+
-+---- 2
-;--- A
a
b
Figure 6 Mating graph of a fixture unit.
fixture design and Fig. 6b illustrates the mating graph of the example
assembly.
In a mating graph, the nodes coupled together are called an independent
group (i.e., their positions must be solved simultaneously). There are two
types of independent groups:
Component pair: Any pair of components that are not in any closed
loop is considered as an independent group. In Fig. 6, A { 1, 2},
C {4, 6}, and D {4, 5} are three such independent groups.
Loop: A closed loop is considered to be an independent loop only
when it has only one component shared with another loop; otherwise,
these two loops should be combined together as one independent
loop. In Fig. 6, B {2, 3, 4, 7} is such an independent group.
7.2.4 Position Inference Order Determination
If a mating graph is based on components and the constraints in between,
it is called the component-level mating graph (CLMG). In determining the
position inference sequence, a binary tree structure is applied to represent
the mating graph on a group level, which is called group-level mating graph
(GLMG). The GLMG can be constructed when each independent group in
the mating graph is represented as a node. The GLMG of Fig. 6 is shown
in Fig. 7.
Using the graph theory, the general tree in Fig. 7a can be converted into
the binary tree structure as shown in Fig. 7b. The shaded nodes are end
nodes of the tree. The sequence of position inference can be determined by
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
223
a
b
Figure 7 Group-level mating graph.
traversing the binary tree either in "depth-first" order or "breadth-first"
order. If using the breadth-first algorithm, the sequence of traversing the
binary tree in Fig. 7b is A-B-C-O. By considering the components in each
group, the position inference sequence will be 1-2-(3,4,7)-6-5. Because
components 2, 3, 4, and 7 are in a closed loop, their position inference
sequence is discussed in a later section.
In independent groups, every two adjacent groups have one component
in common. In the position inference, this common component is treated as
the reference component for the children node. For example, component 2
is the reference component for group B and component 4 is the reference
component for groups C and O.
7.2.5 Constraint Satisfaction Between Two Components
Solving the constraint between two components is a basic step in constraint
satisfaction. It is the foundation of constraint satisfaction among multiple
components. In constraint satisfaction between two components, the joint
information is derived first; then, the procedure of position inference is
implemented.
(a) Joint Information Derivation
The main task of constraint satisfaction is to derive the joint information
between two components and to find out their relative location. The idea
behind joint derivation is that for each primary constraint imposed between
two components, there may be one or more translation and rotation joints.
The Boolean operation intersect (n) is applied to all the joints to find the
final joints. The final translation joint will be the intersection of all trans-
lation joints:
224 Chapter 7
(2)
Similarly, the final rotation joint will be
(3)
where Ti and Ri are the translation and rotation joints of the i-th primary
constraint between two components; n is the number of primary constraints
between two components; and the binary operator n between two joints J
j
and J
j
is defined as
. _ {J
1
PMG = J: PMG n J; PMG
It J - J, n J
j
then l' DMG = J; DMG n J; DMG
(4)
This indicates that the PMG of the new joint is the intersection of these
two joints' PMG, and the same for the DMG. The new joint's RCS is se-
lected from the J
j
and J/s RCS. If two joints' motion geometry has different
types, the RCS with a smaller motion geometry is selected. For example, if
one joint has a line motion geometry and the other has a plane motion
geometry, the first joint's RCS is selected as the final joint's RCS. Otherwise,
there is no explicit rule imposed on the selection. Because each joint may
have different RCSs, the intersection of their motion geometries is performed
after mapping into a common CS, usually the absolute CS. After the inter-
section operation, the motion geometry is mapped back into the joint's RCS.
The final joint space specifies the allowable motion space of the slave
component. For each new primary constraint, the new joint space is the
intersection of the old joint space and the new constraint's joint space. The
new joint space is always a subset of the old one. If the joint space becomes
a null set, it indicates that the new constraint is conflicting with the existing
constraints and a certain error-handling procedure is required.
(b) Joints of Primary Constraints
In order to derive the joint information, the translation and rotation joints
are defined for each primary constraint so that the final joint can be derived
by the intersection of all primary constraint's joint. Figure 8 and Table 3
present an example of the primary constraint "distance(line, line) = 0,"
where line a is on component A, line b is on component B, and line z is
the z axis of the marker. MA and MB are the markers of lines a and b,
respectively. A complete list of all primary constraint's joint information can
be found in (Kang, 1998).
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
225
a(b)
a
b
z
z
z
MB
Y
x
MAY
x
Figure 8 Primary constraint: distance(line, line) = o.
(c) Position Inference
The task of position inference is to find the relative location of the slave
component with reference to the master component. It happens together with
joint derivation, both of them are performed step by step as each primary
constraint is added. To each new primary constraint, the new joint space is
derived first to see if conflicts occur between constraints and. then, the ex-
isting joint space is searched to find the new position of the slave component.
A flowchart of position inference is shown in Fig. 9.
In searching the joint space, an algorithm can be applied to eliminate
the searching space and optimize the searching speed, thus improving the
computational efficiency. A concept flowchart of searching the joint space
is shown in Fig. 10.
(d) An Example of Joint Derivation
Figure 11 shows an example of implementing the procedure of joint deri-
vation. The example is a typical secondary constraint in the modular-fixture
assembly, "Slot Fit." The slot is to be aligned with a hole on the baseplate
where the distance between the two inner faces of the slot equals the di-
ameter of the hole. As discussed earlier, this secondary constraint is decom-
posed into two primary constraints: "distance(PLANE2, PLANE3) = 0" and
Table 3 Joint for "distance(line, line) = 0"
Translation joint Rotation joint
Type Translation Rotation
DMG Line: axis z Line: axis z
PMG N/A Line: axis z
ReS MA MB
226
START
Get a new primary constraint
from the constraint list
Is it the end of the
list?
Derive the new joint
space, does conflict
occur?
N
Search old joint space to find
the new position of the slave
part.
y
END
y Error handling
---. routine.
Figure 9 Flowchart of position inference.
Chapter 7
"distance(PLANEl, LINE4) = r" (r is the radius of the hole). In this ex-
ample, the slot component is the slave component. Once the constraint is
applied, the remaining OOFs include a rotation of the slot component to the
hole axis and a translation along the slot direction. The joint derivation
procedure is illustrated in Table 4.
7.2.6 Constraint Satisfaction Among Multiple Components
The main obstacle to extending the position inference and joint derivation
between two components to multiple components is the possible appearance
of closed loop in a multiple-component mating graph. Once a closed loop
appears, the joint information cannot be derived in the same way as between
components.
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
Calculate the slave component's
location: L = L(J)
Does the slave component's
location satisfy the new
primary constraint?
Figure 10 Flowchart of joint space search.
End of the joint space, no
solution found, error
handling routine.
New slave component's
location found, position
inference succeeded.
227
If there is no closed loop, as shown in Fig. 12a, the position sequence
can be easily determined as 1-2-3-4. The joints 1
12
, 1
23
, and 134 can also
be derived one after another.
If there is a single closed loop in the mating graph, as shown in Fig.
l2b, where a new constraint is added between components land 4, an
independent group is formed. No joint information can be derived for the
constraint and it is only judged as "can be satisfied" or "cannot be satis-
fied." For the purpose of such a jUdgment, the joint space is searched,
including all other joints in the same group. If at a point in the joint space,
the new constraint can be satisfied, the new constraint is considered valid
228 Chapter 7
distance(PLANE2, PLANE3) = 0
distance(PLANEl, LINE4) = r
Figure 11 Joint derivation for the "slot-fit" secondary constraint.
Table 4 Joint Derivation for "Slot-Fit" Secondary Constraint
Final Final
Primary Joint Translation translation rotation
constraint member joint Rotation joint joint joint
Distance(PLANE2, DMG Plane: xy Line: z axis Plane: xy Space
PLANE3) = 0 PMG N/A Space N/A Line: z axis
RCS M2
8
M3 M2 M3
Distance(PLANE I, DMG Plane: xy Line: z axis Line: z axis Line: yaxis Line: z axis
LlNE4) = r PMG N/A Space Line: z axis N/A Line: z axis
RCS Ml MI M4 MI M4
"In the marker generation, marker M2's y axis coincides with the slot's centerline.
a b c
Figure 12 Position inference with closed loop(s).
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 229
and the locations of other components in the same group need to be adjusted
to satisfy the joint requirement. Otherwise, such a judgment may indicate
the new constraint invalid or overconstrained. It must be ignored or modi-
fied.
If there is a compound loop in the mating graph, as shown in Fig. 12c,
where a new constraint between component 2 and 4 causes a compound
loop, the new constraints are treated the same way as in a single loop. The
difference is that there are more than one constraints needed to be satisfied
simultaneously. If a solution can be found in the joint space, it is a valid
constraint; otherwise, it is invalid.
7.3 CONSTRAINT-BASED MODULAR-FIXTURE DESIGN
The direct application of constraint-based fixture assembly modeling is in
an interactive way. The fixture assembly is built by picking the features of
fixture components and specifying the constraints on the screen interactively.
The constraint-based mode ling can be extended to an automated modular-
fixture configuration design (AMFCD), which includes the following com-
ponents/modules:
Fixture components database (FCDB), in which all components are
represented in terms of the geometry and assembly feature.
Fixture component relationship reasoning engine. The reasoning en-
gine searches the whole fixture component database and finds out all
possible relationships between components. The result is stored in
the fixture component relationship database (FCRDB).
Workpiece setup information input module. This module collects the
required information of automated fixture design, either extracted
from the workpiece's CAD model automatically or from the user
interface interactively.
Configuration-generating module. This module generates and posi-
tions the fixture units by the input setup information and searching
the fixture component relationship database.
When the constraint is applied to the automated fixture configuration
design, modifications can be made in the representation of the relationship
database and the configuration-generating module. A new position inference
module is added to infer the component's position and derive the joint
information. The block diagram of the AMFCD system is illustrated in Fig.
13.
230 Chapter 7
Workpiece Setup Infonnation Input
Component Input
Workpiece Geometry, Orientation,
User Interface
Machining Envelope,
1
Locating/Clamping Points
-::::
Modular
Fixture
Component
Database
l
Relationship
Reasoning
Configuration Generation Module
Engine
Locators/Clamps Selection
1
Output Fixture Assembly in Tenns of

... ..
'-
.-'
Constraints
Modular
Fixture
Component
Relationship
Database
Position Inference Module
Joint DerivationIPosition Inference
Output Each Component's Location
...
( Constraint
I
l
Solver
Fixture AnalysiS/Check Module
Joint Infonnation Derivation
Degree of Freedom Analysis
Interference Check
......
Figure 13 Modules of constraint-based fixture assembly design system.
7.3.1 Fixture Component Representation and Fixture
Component Database
In AMFCO, the information on fixture components must be complete so that
the following functions can be performed in the configuration design:
Suitable functional components (i.e., locators and clamps) can be
easily selected for specified fixturing functions.
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 231
Assembly relationships among fixture components can be easily
established.
Solid models of fixture components are created by using CAD modeling
functions. However, the information in the existing solid model is implicit
and insufficient for fixture configuration design purposes. Therefore, an
assembly-feature-based representation of fixture components is necessary to
satisfy the above requirements for automated fixture configuration design.
An assembly feature is defined as one or more faces that can be served
for certain fixturing functions. Several types of fixturing features were
defined (Bai and Rong, 1995a) to describe the fixture this
classification of features was extended to include contact features (Ma et aI.,
1998). The features used in automated configuration design are classified
into four groups with several types of functional feature (Figs. 14
and 15):
Supporting features are the faces used for supporting purposes in a
fixture assembly. They can be subdivided into supporting faces and
supported faces, which supports or is supported by another fixture
component.
Locating features are the features used for locating purposes in a
fixture assembly. They include locating pins and pin holes.
Fastening features are the features used to fasten two components
together. Screw holes, counterbore holes, and fixing slots are ex-
amples of this type of feature.
Contact features are the faces in contact with the workpiece directly.
Figure 15 shows the five types of contact feature: top, bottom, side,
edge, and V-contacts, each corresponds to a fixturing function: top
clamping, bottom locating, side locating/clamping, edge locating,
and V-block locating, respectively.
Once the fixturing features are defined, the feature-based fixture com-
ponent model can be derived for automated fixture configuration design.
SUpp octing feamre FasteningtBBlUre
Supporting feature
Figure 14 Supporting, locating, and fastening features.
232
:G
top-contact bottom -contact
comer -contact
Figure 15 Contact features.
I
I
side-contact
c1rcum -contact
Chapter 7
In automated configuration design, the fixture units can be generated by
searching the FCDB and reasoning the relationship between components.
But the search and reasoning are obviously computationally expensive. To
reduce the time of reasoning the relationship each time a new unit is gen-
erated, the FCRDB can be generated in advance. The FCRDB stores all
possible relationships between all fixture components. The configuration-
generating module need only search the FCRDB to generate the units, thus
greatly improving the computational efficiency. The FCRDB only need to
be regenerated whenever the FCDB is updated.
The generation of FCRDB is done by implementing a fixture component
relationship reasoning engine which searches the FCDB and extracts all
possible assembly relationships by the constraint rules, such as a "supporting
face" against a "supported face"; two "locating holes" aligned; and a
H counter bore hole" aligned with a .. screw hole."
All these relationships are represented in terms of constraints. The ad-
vantages of the constraint-based relationship representation includes the fact
that the relationship-generating engine module need not take into account
the locations of each assembly features. Furthermore, the constraint-based
relationship is a more flexible way to represent the relationship between
components, and the relationships are easy to maintain.
7 .3.2 Fixture Configuration Generation
Once the workpiece setup information is input to the system, it will include
part geometry, part position and orientation, machining envelope, and lo-
cating/clamping points (function type, position, and normal direction). The
automated configuration design automatically selects fixture components and
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 233
places them into position, with assembly relationships satisfied. The output
of the automated fixture configuration design is the fixture assembly, which
includes all components and the constraints between them. The AMFCD is
carried out as follows:
1. Based on the position and function of locating/clamping points, an
algorithm is applied to calculate all acting heights of fixture units
by considering the least clearance between the workpiece and base-
plate, which is usually required for a minimum height of machine
tool operations.
2. The fixture component selection and unit-generation module is ap-
plied to generate suitable fixture units according to the acting height,
where the information from the FCRDB is retrieved. For each fix-
turing point, a fixture component is selected as the functional com-
ponent in contact with the workpiece. This is done by searching the
contact features of fixture components.
3. Because the locating holes are distributed discretely on the base-
plate, the mounting algorithm is used to calculate a position that is
suitable for a fixture unit mounted on the baseplate.
4. Output the fixture configuration in terms of constraints.
7.3.3 Fixture-Design Modification
The output of the configuration-generating module is a constraint-based as-
sembly. The assembly information contains the fixture components and the
constraints between them. The final result is output on the screen with a
user interface allowing user modification. The user may add, remove, or
reposition a component or unit, as well as modify the constraints between
components. For each user operation, the mating graphs are updated if
necessary, and the constraints are maintained. The joint information derived
is essential for fixture assembly modification and can be the input of a
kinematic analysis package.
Once the workpiece position or dimension changes in a certain range,
which may happen in a concurrent design of product and manufacturing
processes, the fixture design can be derived from the existing one without
redesigning the whole fixture. This is one of the advantages of the constraint-
based fixture assembly.
When the workpiece is repositioned, the constraints between workpiece
and the contacting component need to be maintained. There are three ap-
proaches to maintaining the constraints in different situations: adjust the
joint, reposition the unit, or regenerate the unit. The unit joint is adjusted if
the constraint can be maintained by adjusting the related joints in the unit.
234 Chapter 7
If the required joint adjustment is beyond the adjustable range, the unit may
be repositioned on the baseplate. Reposition is often accompanied with joint
adjustment. If neither joint adjustment nor reposition satisfies the constraint,
the unit is regenerated.
Figures 16 and 17 show two examples of workpiece reposition where
the workpiece is translated in the vertical and the horizontal direction, re-
spectively. In Fig. 16a, the workpiece is translated upward. After the trans-
lation, the constraints between the workpiece and the bottom locator, the top
clamp is broken (Fig. 16b). Because there are adjustable joints in the top
Replaced
component
Workpiece
Workpiece
c
a
b
Figure 16 Vertical workpiece reposition.
Top-
clamping
unit
Top-
clamping
unit
Top-
clamping
unit
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
Bottom-
locating
unit
Workpiece
a
Workpiece
b
Workpiece
c
Figure 17 Horizontal workpiece reposition.
unit
clamping
unit
235
clamping unit, the joints are adjusted to the new posItIOn to satisfy the
constraints. Because the bottom locating units cannot be adjusted, they are
regenerated. The final result is shown in Fig. 16c. In Fig. 17a, the workpiece
is translated horizontally. The bottom locating units need to be adjusted to
best support the workpiece. This can be achieved by repositioning them to
the next grid holes on the baseplate. For the side clamp, because the ad-
justment of the adjustable clamp is out of its range, the constraint between
236 Chapter 7
Figure 18 Work piece variation.
the unit and the workpiece is satisfied by both reposition and adjustment
(Fig. 17c).
For each individual unit in the fixture assembly, the workpiece variation
can be viewed equally as workpiece reposition. In Fig. 18, if the workpiece
expands its dimension in the X, Y, and Z directions to the bottom locating
and top clamping units, it can be viewed as workpiece reposition in the Z
for the side clamping unit, it can be viewed as workpiece repo-
sition in the Y direction.
7.4 IMPLEMENTATION OF CONSTRAINT-BASED
FIXTURE DESIGN
The constraint-based fixture assembly modeling and automated modular-
fixture design is implemented on a CAD package. This section shows the
interactive design and automated fixture design functions based on the
constraint-based design principle.
7.4.1 Interactive Fixture Design
Figure 19 shows the dialog box for interactive fixture assembly design,
which includes following functions: add, remove, translate, and rotate com-
add, remove, translate, and rotate group several components
into a unit and ungroup a unit into and add and remove con-
straints between components.
Figure 20 shows two fixture components and a baseplate where the
fixture components are to be assembled as a bottom locating unit. This
bottom locating unit is further assembled onto the baseplate. The procedure
is as follows:
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
Figure 19 Interactive design dialog box.
a. Part A
c. Baseplate
Figure 20 Fixture components.
237
b. Part B
238 Chapter 7
From the "Mating Condition" dialog box (Fig. 21), choose the
"Hole-Hole Align" secondary constraint function.
Select two faces to be against, which are highlighted in Figs. 20a
and 20b.
Select two holes to be aligned, which are also highlighted in Fig.
20.
Select the part to be moved where part A is selected as the slave
part and will be repositioned later.
Update the assembly. The constraint between part A and part B is
solved and part A is repositioned to the correct place (Fig. 22).
Select "Dual Hole-Hole Align" secondary constraint function from
the "Mating Condition" dialog box.
Select two faces to be against, which are highlighted in Figs. 22 and
23.
Select two pairs of holes to be aligned, which are highlighted in
Figs. 22 and 23.
Select part B as the slave part to be moved.
Update assembly. The new constraint between part B and the base-
plate are solved. Part A and part B together are repositioned into
place (Fig. 24).
In Fig. 21, two levels of constraints are available to users (i.e., secondary
constraints and primary constraints). The secondary constraints listed on the
menu are "plane-plane against," "cylinder-hole fit," "cylinder-plane
against," "hole-hole align," "dual hole align," "edge-contact," "slot fit,"
and "V-block contact." These secondary constraints provide a quick and
easy way to accomplish most tasks in interactive fixture design. However,
when the constraint cannot be specified by any of the secondary constraints,
the primary constraints can be used to describe more sophisticated con-
straints.
7.4.2 Automated Modular Fixture Design
Figure 25 is the main dialog box for automated modular-fixture design; the
workpiece setup information is input through this dialog box. The generation
of fixture assembly is done in two steps:
1. Locating/clamping point selection
2. Fixture assembly generation
The locating/clamping point selection is based on the 3-2-1 principle
(i.e., three bottom locating points, two side locating points on one side, and
the other side locating point on another side). Figure 26 is an example of a
workpiece.
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly
239
Figure 21 Mating condition dialog box.
Figure 22 Bottom locating unit.
240 Chapter 7
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
Figure 23 Baseplate.
Figure 27 shows the workpiece with three bottom locating points se-
lected; each small circle represents a bottom locating point. Figure 28 shows
three side locating points on the workpiece-two on one side and the third
on the other side. Figure 29 shows the three top clamping points. Two small
circles are used to represent each clamping point-the one on the workpiece
is the clamping point and the other one behind it is used to determine the
clamp direction.
Once the locating/clamping points are selected, the system is ready to
configure the fixture assembly automatically. The "Generate" button on the
automated modular-fixture design dialog box will activate the automated con-
figuration design; the final result of the fixture assembly is shown in Fig. 30.
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
(
0
0
0
0
0
0
(
Figure 24 Bottom locating unit on the baseplate.
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 241
Figure 25 Automated modular-fixture design dialog box.
Figure 26 Workpiece example.
242 Chapter 7
Figure 27 Bottom locating points.
Side locator 1
Figure 28 Side locating points.
Top clamp 1
,0
o
o
Figure 29 Top clamping points.
Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 243
Tfr-ISO view
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
()
0 0
0
()
0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
()
0 0
()
0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
()
0 0
()
0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
()
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
()
0 0 0 0 0 0
0
()
0
0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Top view
Figure 30 Fixture assembly result.
244 Chapter 7
REFERENCES
Ambler. A. P., and R. l. Popplestone (1975), "Inferring the Positions of Bodies from
Specified Spatial Relationship," Artificial Intelligence, Vol. 6, pp. 157 - 174.
Anantha. R., G. A. Kramer. and R. H. Crawford (1996), "Assembly ModeIing by
Geometric Constraint Satisfaction," Computer-Aided Design, Vol. 28. No. 9.
pp. 707 - 722.
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Constraint-Based Fixture Assembly 245
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8
GeoInetric Analysis
for AutoInated
Modular-Fixture Design
Attendant processes such as fixture and die design are often a necessary but
time-consuming and expensive component of a production cycle. Coupling
such attendant processes to product design via feature-based computer-aided
design (CAD) will lead to more responsive and affordable product design
and redesign. In the context of ongoing research in automating fixture con-
figuration design, this chapter presents a fundamental study of automated
fixture planning with a focus on geometric analysis. The initial conditions
for modular fixture assembly are established together with the necessary
relationships between fixture components and the workpiece to be analyzed.
Of particular focus is the design of alternative locating points and compo-
nents, together with example three-dimensional (3-D) fixture designs.
8.1 INTRODUCTION
Global competition has forced U.S. manufacturers to reduce production cy-
cles and increase product design agility. Generally, a manufacturing process
is uncoupled and divided into product design, process design (selection,
routing. and tooling), and assembly. Obvious and continual advances in
CAD, computer-aided process planning (CAPP), and computer-aided man-
ufacturing (CAM) are enabling more multidisciplinary design. However.
computer-aided tooling (CAT), which is a critical part of process design and
a bridge between CAD and CAM together with CAPP, has been least ad-
dressed and remains a missing link.
246
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 247
As a consequence of evolving CNC technology, specifically reusable
objects called features coupling shape and process (milling, drilling, etc.) to
generate machine-specific NC code, workpiece setup, and associated fixtur-
ing has become the process bottleneck. To address this bottleneck, research
and development of flexible fixturing, including modular-fixturing technol-
ogy, has received continued support. Modular-fixture components enable a
large number of configurations to be derived, disassembled, and reused.
However, modular-fixture design is a geometrically complex task and such
complexity impedes the widespread application of modular fixtures. The
development of an automated modular-fixture design system is needed to
simplify the process design of more affordable products.
This chapter focuses on a geometric analysis for automated modular-
fixture planning inspired by previous research in this area, especially a mod-
ular-fixture synthesis algorithm (Brost and Peters, 1996) and an automated
fixture configuration design methodology (Rong and Bai, 1997).
8.1.1 Previous Research
Fixture design involves three steps: setup planning. fixture planning, and
fixture configuration design (Rong and Bai, 1997). Setup planning research
has been addressed in the context of CAPP (Joneja and Chang. 1989; Chang,
1992; Ferreira and Liu, 1988). Seminal work in computer-aided fixture de-
sign (CAFD) focused on fixture planning: a method for automating fixture
location and clamping (Chou et aI., 1989); an algorithm for the selection of
locating/clamping positions providing maximum mechanical leverage (de
Meter, 1993); kinematic-analysis-based fixture planning (Menassa and
De Vries, 1990; Mani and Wilson, 1988); rule-based systems to design mod-
ular fixtures for prismatic workpieces (Pham and de Sam Lazaro, 1990;
Markus et aI., 1984). However, with respect to previous work on automating
the configuration of workpiece fixtures [i.e., automated fixture configuration
design (AFCD)L little can be found. Fixture design depends on critical lo-
cating and clamping points on workpiece surfaces, for which fixture com-
ponents can be selected to hold the workpiece based on CAD graphic func-
tions (Sakal and Chou, 1991). A two-dimensional (2-D) modular-fixture
component placement algorithm has been developed (Trappey et aI.. 1993).
In addition, a method for automating the design of the configuration of T-
slot-based modular-fixturing components has been developed (Whybrew and
Ngoi, 1990). An automated fixture configuration design system has been
developed; when fixturing surfaces and points are specified, modular-fixture
components can be selected automatically to generate fixture units and
placed into position, with satisfying assemble conditions (Rong and Bai,
248 Chapter 8
1997). Assembly relationships between fixture components have also been
defined and automatically established (Bai and Rong, 1998).
Almost all the CAFD researchers admit that workpiece geometry is the
pivotal factor in a successful CAFD system. Because the geometry of work-
pieces can vary greatly, many researchers in CAFD consider only regular
workpieces (i.e., workpieces suitable for the 3-2-1 locating method). There
have been some attempts toward handling more complicated workpiece ge-
ometries as in Nnaji et al. (1988). However, their results are only applicable
to some specific geometry (Le., regular polygonal prisms).
Relatively less literature can be found on the theoretical study of fix-
turing principles, including locating accuracy evaluation, clamp planning,
and accessibility analysis. An analytical tool on kinematic modeling and
characterization of workpiece fixturing was discussed, in which the condition
was derived for a fixture layout to locate a given workpiece uniquely at a
desired location (Asada and By, 1985). The loading and unloading problem
was also studied preliminarily on side locating based on an object-constraint
reasoning for fixture design (Chou et aI., 1989). A model for constraint
reasoning was presented for the synthesis of fixtures. However, the discus-
sion was restricted to the 3-2-1 locating situation with perpendicular plane
surfaces.
8.1.2 Review of the Brost-Goldberg Algorithm
Recently, research in modular assembly based on geometric access and as-
sembly analysis has gained considerable attention. Brost and Goldberg
(1996) presented a "complete" algorithm for synthesizing modular fixtures
for polygonal workpieces and Zhuang et al. (1996) explored the existence
of modular-fixture design solutions for a given fixture configuration model
and a workpiece. Fixture foolproofing for polygonal workpieces was studied
(Penev and Requicha, 1995) and the approach was partially employed in
Brost and Goldberg (1996). Brost and Peters (1996) presented a framework
on the automatic design of 3-D fixtures and assembly pallets, but no detailed
design methodology, procedure, and results were provided.
In the work of Brost and Goldberg (1996), an algorithm, called the
Brost-Goldberg algorithm, was presented for synthesizing planar modular
fixtures for polygonal workpieces. The basic assumptions were that a work-
piece can be represented with a simple polygon, locators can be represented
as circles with identical radius less than half the grid spacing, the fixturing
configuration is three circular locators and a clamp, the base plate is infinite,
and all the contacts are frictionless. In addition to polygonal workpiece
boundaries, a set of geometric access constraints are provided as a list of
polygons with clamp descriptions and a quality metric. The output of the
Geometric Anal.vsis for AMFD 249
algorithm includes the coordinates of the three locators, the clamp, and the
translation and rotation of the workpiece relative to the base plate. The
implementation of the algorithm is as follows:
I. The polygonal workpiece and geometric access constraints are
transformed by extending the workpiece by the radius of the loca-
tors, which are treated as ideal points (Fig. I) (Brost and Goldberg,
1996).
2. All candidate fixture designs are synthesized by enumerating the set
of possible locator setups. The possible clamp locations are also
found with each locator setup, and the clamp location specifies a
unique fixture.
3. The set of candidate fixtures are then filtered to remove those that
cause problems (i.e., collision). The survivors are then scored ac-
cording to the quality metric.
In Step 2, placement of three circular locators on the base plate are
evaluated while translating and rotating the workpiece relative to the base-
plate. An algorithm was also presented to find all combinations of the three
edges, where two of them may be identical, on the polygon with a satisfac-
tion of hole-alignment conditions with the baseplate (Fig. 2) (Brost and
Goldberg, 1996). For each set of locators and associated contact edges, con-
sistent workpiece configurations or workpiece positions are calculated. All
the possible clamp positions are then enumerated based on the constraint
analysis of the constructed force sphere.
The algorithm is called a "complete" algorithm for planar modular-
fixture design because it guarantees finding all possible planar fixture designs
Figure 1 Expansion of workpiece boundary edges.
250
! lllli).X
1

y
c ,
lrilln

(a)
Chapter 8
-----''--.......... ----x
(b)
Figure 2 Search for locator positions to satisfy hole-alignment condition,
for a specific polygonal workpiece if they do exist. However, the major
limitations of the method are the following:
I. Only polygonal workpieces are considered (i.e., no curved surfaces
are allowed in the workpiece geometry). In reality, many fixture-
design cases include cylindrical surfaces, or circular arcs in 2-D
representations.
2. Only circular locating pins with uniform radii are considered in the
algorithm. In each modular-fixture system, there are some other
types of locators available and widely used in fixture designs.
3. The algorithm only considers 2-D workpieces. In practice, it can be
applied only for prismatic workpieces having small height (i.e., the
3-D fixture-design problem is a great challenge).
4. There are some criteria necessary for the locating and clamping
design in addition to geometric considerations, including locating
error, accuracy relationship analysis, accessibility analysis, and
other operational conditions.
5. Clamp location planning is weak without the consideration of fric-
tion forces, which needs to be further improved.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 251
In this chapter, modifications and extensions to the modular-fixture syn-
thesis algorithm are presented with regard to the limitations mentioned
above. Several technical problems related to modular-fixture design are dis-
cussed, including geometric conditions of workpiece constraints, assembly
relationships of modular fixtures, repeatable locating error analysis, clamp
planning and analysis, and accessibility analysis. The basic assumption in
this research is that the primary locating surface is perpendicular to the
second and third locating surface. The second and third locating surfaces
need not to be perpendicular as the 3-2-1 locating scheme requires. Lo-
cating accuracy analysis in the latter situation has been presented in Rong
and Bai (1995). Although, generally, workpiece geometry and fixture con-
figuration may be complicated, this assumption holds true in most fixture
designs using planar and cylindrical surfaces as locating surfaces, especially
with modular-fixture applications (Rong et aI., 1993). Therefore, only side
locating and clamping are considered in the accuracy and clamping analyses.
8.2 GEOMETRIC CONSTRAINT CONDITIONS
A prismatic workpiece is typically regarded as a 2-D workpiece including a
set of edges such as line segments and arcs, which are candidate locating
edges. The locating and clamping design problem becomes one of finding
a group of three locating edge combinations. For an explicit expression, let
us define the set of expanded boundary edges of the workpiece P as
EBE(P) = {eilei E line segments; i E NE} (I)
where NE is the number of candidate edges.
All combinations of three edges, two of which may be identical, on the
polygon are enumerated as
Triplets(P) = {(ej, e
j
~ I e j , e
j
, e
k
E EBE(P), ::I (a, b) C (i, j, k), a #- b} (2)
Locator centers are designed to contact with edge combinations ec =
(ei' ej, ek)(Triplets (P. Without loss of generality, it can be assumed that ej
contacts with a locator LJ at the origin of the baseplate lattice based on the
assumption of an infinite baseplate. By translating and rotating e
j
about the
origin, e
j
sweeps out an annulus centered on the origin, with inner and outer
diameters equal to the minimum and maximum distances, respectively, be-
tween ei and ej. The position set of the locator contacting ej should be within
the swept annulus as
252 Chapter 8
where PI is the origin of the baseplate lattice.
Each P2 is evaluated for selection as the second locator L2 in contact
with ej. If LI contacts ej and L2 contacts ej' a third locator L
J
in contact with
ek must be pairwise consistent with both e
j
and e
j
. The envelope containing
the region swept by ek maintaining contact with the first two locators can
be easily determined by independently considering each pair as
which is the same as presented in Brost and Peters (1996).
8.2.1 Assembly Relationship Analysis
From the above discussion, it has been shown that determining the positions
and orientations of modular-fixture components can be simplified by finding
geometric entities, such as line segments or arcs, on the workpiece passing
ideal points on the baseplate after moving (translating and rotating) the
workpiece relative to the baseplate.
As shown in Fig. 3, the relative position between the workpiece and the
baseplate can be represented by the relation of the workpiece and the base-
plate coordinate systems which are expressed as XwOY wand XbOY b, re-
spectively. Basically, there are three locator-workpiece contact situations as
shown in Fig. 4: line segment contacts with a circular locator, arc contacts
with a circular locator, and arc contacts with a line.
When a locating edge Lj on the workpiece is required to pass a point
Pi on the baseplate, that is, the locator center needs to be aligned to a tapped
(or pin) hole on the baseplate, Li can be expressed by
(5)
Pi can be expressed as (Rong and Bai, 1997)
(6)
where
yt>, = Tv
Xt>, = 2Tu + T(v mod 2)
, u, v = -N, -N + 1, ... , -2, -1,0, 1,2, ... , N,
and T is the spacing increment between the taped (or pin) holes on the
baseplate.
253
T
0
::0:
0
::t5::
2 (N-l) N
Figure 3 Baseplate and workpiece coordinate systems.
The workpiece is assumed to be translated by (x, y) and rotated by 8
relative to the baseplate. To simplify the calculation, an inverse transform
is considered by holding the workpiece fixed, and moving the baseplate by
(-x, -y, -8). Then, Pi(Xbi, YbJ is transformed to
X
hi
- x)cos e + (Yhi - y)sin e, (Yhi - y)cos e - (Xhi - x)sin e) (7)
Thus, the condition for the modular assembly can be described as
ri[(Xhi - x)cos e + (Yl>i - y)sin e] + S;[(Ybi - y)cos e - (X
hi
- x)sin e] + t, = 0 (8)
For a specific workpiece, its geometry shape is fixed, which means that
the equation of the line is fixed (Le., ri, sj, and ti are constant). The assembly
points are given, which means Xbi and Ybi are constant. There will be three
equations to solve three unknowns x, y, and 8.
If a circular locator contacts with an arc centered at Olu
o
, vo) with radius
R, the arc can be represented as
254
(a)
(b)

(c)
y
Chapter 8
8(Xw2 ,Yw2)
Y.
Pi :
---------J
Figure 4 Three types of assembly constraints: (a) a workpiece edge passing a
locating point on the baseplate; (b) a workpiece arc passing a locating point on the
baseplate; (c) a workpiece arc tangent to a locating line on the baseplate.
Geometric Analysis for AM FD
255
(9)
The contact equation will be
(Un - (Xvi - x)cos 0 - (Ybi - y)sin 0)2 + (Vo - (Yvi - Y)COS 0 + (XVI - x)sin 0)1 = R1
( 10)
When an arc centered at Oi(UO, vo) with radius R contacts a line-contact
locator such as a V-pad or half-Vee which has an incline edge AB, the third
situation happens. Assume J3min and J3max are the extreme directional angles
of PjOj that makes the arc maintain contact with AB (Fig. 4c). Therefore,
= + 0, = + 0
Vo cos e + Uo sin e + Y)
Because distance(Oj, AB) = R, the fixturing condition becomes
[ri(Un cos 0 - Vo sin 0 + x) + Sj(vo cos e + U
o
sin e + Y) + tJ2 = + (11)
where line AB in the baseplate coordinate system is represented as:
(12)
and PjO
j
should be within J3minl to J3maxl'
Determining the position of a planar workpiece requires three param-
eters: x and y coordinates as well as the rotational angle e of the workpiece
coordinate system. When the workpiece is placed into the fixture, it should
be in contact with the three locators with three edges numbered j, k and 1.
Each contact will provide an equation concerning the workpiece location x,
y, and e. Equations (8) and (l0) can be generally presented as
G;(X, Y, e) = 0, i = j, k, and J (13)
The contour of the workpiece can be represented by a group of differ-
entiable functions in terms of workpiece coordinates (x, y, e) relative to the
baseplate because of the translation and rotation of the workpiece:
Gj(X, y, e) = 0, i = I, 2, ... , n ( 14)
where n represents the number of candidate locating points
256 Chapter 8
8.2.2 Uniqueness of 2-D Solutions
Once the workpiece is positioned, the orientation should be unique. Solving
the three-equation set [Eq. (13)] may provide a solution; however, it is also
possible that no solution or infinite solutions exist. The no-solution situation
means the third locator has been chosen from an image locus (i.e., all pos-
sible solutions exist in the pseudolocus, but the pseudolocus will also pro-
vide the position of the third locator, which is not possible). In other situ-
ations, there are an infinite number of solutions (e.g., when all three edges
are parallel or when the three contact normals meet at a single point) (Fig.
5). These cases should be discarded, as they do not constrain the workpiece
to a unique location.
In order to obtain the necessary conditions for a unique solution, assume
that the workpiece can be positioned while contacting all three locators in
a position (x
o
, yo, eo) with a disturbance:
G,(X + ~ x , y + ~ y , e + ~ e = 0, i = j, k, and 1
(15)
aG
j
aG
j
aGj
Gj(x, y, 6) + - ~ x + - ~ y + - ~ e = 0
ax ay ae
For a stationary locating,
aG
j
aG, aGj
- ~ x + - ~ y + - ~ e = 0, i = j, k, and 1
ax ay ae
( 16)
Therefore, the condition for the equation set to have single solution is
aG
j
aG
j
aG)
ax ay ae
aG
k
aG
k
aG
k
=0
(17)
ax ay ae
aG
I
aG
I
aG
I
ax ay ae
For a valid solution, it is also important to consider the workpiece tol-
erances. When the geometric dimensions of the workpiece vary in a certain
range, the locating contacts should be maintained. Similar analysis can be
Geometric Ana(vsis for AMFD 257
Figure 5 Examples of invalid locating designs.
conducted, but the specifics will be presented in Sect. 8.5. Some other val-
uable discussions on similar problems can be found in Asada and By (1985).
8.3 ASSEMBLY ANALYSIS
In this section, various locators and clamps are considered in fixture plan-
ning. In order to apply the fixture planning algorithm discussed in the pre-
vious section, the geometric analysis for workpiece boundary expansion
should be performed for actuallocators and clamps. Generally, there are two
types of locating edges for 2-D workpiece geometry: line segments and arcs,
which may lie in either internal or external contours. Several locator types
are used for side locating, including round locating pins (Fig. 6a), locating
towers (Fig. 6b), adjustable stops (Fig. 6c), half-Vees (Fig. 6d), V-pads (Fig.
6e), round hole pins (Fig. 60, and diamond hole pins (Fig. 6g).
If the locating edge is a line segment, a round locating pin, a locating
tower, and an adjustable stop may be used. For an arc segment, a half- Vee
and a V-pad are considered first. However, a round locating pin, a locating
tower, and adjustable stop may be also used for arc edge contacts. Generally,
locating a 2-D workpiece requires limiting three degrees of freedom (OOFs):
two translation and one rotational. Three line or arc edges, two of which
may coincide, should be selected for locating purposes. Thus, a locator con-
figuration should be considered for sundry combinations. Table 1 shows the
possible locator configurations with assigned preference and provides criteria
for preliminary selections of locators and clamps.
Zhuang et al. (1996) showed that the three circular locating pin config-
urations were not universal for an arbitrary 2-D workpiece. Indeed, there
exist some workpieces that cannot be fixtured using this configuration and,
therein, the type of locator may be changed. An alternative may involve the
use of adjustable stops with adjustable contacting lengths. The distance from
258 Chapter 8
(a) round locating pin
(b) locating tower
(c) adjustable stop
(d) half-Vee
(e) V-pad (t) round hole pin
(g) diamond hole pin
Figure 6 Locators to be considered.
the contact point to the locator center may be larger than half of the baseplate
grid distance, which may greatly improve the locating capability.
Locating geometric analysis is based on the geometric constraints im-
posed on the workpiece and locator position. Here, locators must maintain
contact with specific locating edges on the workpiece. The modular fixture
assembly requires the locators to be assembled through holes in the base-
plate. For the 2-D situation, the assembly process is to find the suitable
Table 1 Partial List of Possible Locator Configurations
Locating edge combinations
Three line segments
Two line segments and one
external arc
One line segment and two
external arcs
One line segment and one
external arc
Three external arcs
Two line segments and one
small internal circle
Two line segments and one
large internal arc
One line segment and two
small internal circles
Two small internal circles
Three large internal arcs
Locator configuration
Three locating towers (b)
Two round locating pins (a)
and one half-Vee (d)
One round locating pin (a)
and two half-Vees (d)
One round locating pin (a)
and one V-pad (e)
Three half-Vees (d)
Two round locating pins (a)
and one diamond hole pin
(g)
Three round locating pins (a)
One adjustable stop (c) and
two diamond pins (g)
One round hole pin (t) and
one diamond pin (g)
Three round locating pins (c)
Locator configuration 2
Three round locating pins (a)
Three round locating pins (a)
Three round locating pins (a)
Three round locating pins (a)
Three round locating pins (a)
Two round locating pins (a)
and one adjustable stop (c)
Two round locating pins (c)
and one adjustable stop (c)
Locator configuration 3
Two round locating pins (a)
and one adjustable stop (c)
Two round locating pins (a)
and one adjustable stop (c)
Two round locating pins (a)
and one adjustable stop (c)
Two round locating pins and
one adjustable stop (c)
Two round locating pins and
one adjustable stop (c)
Note: Two line segments may degenerate into one; arc and circle may mean the same thing; and two half-Vees may be equivalent to one V-pad.
See Fig. 6 for examples of (a)-(g).
260 Chapter 8
assembly holes in the baseplate which can locate the workpiece. Following
are several cases on how to find possible locator positions.
8.3.1 Case 1: Locating with Locating Tower and Adjustable Stop
Locators used for line segments are first discussed, such as the locating tower
and adjustable stop (locator band c in Fig. 6), as shown in Fig. 7. Locating
towers can be treated as smaller circular locators whose radius r is
r = distance(locator center, locating edge) (18)
However, it should be noted that for locating towers, the possible contact
region between the locating tower and locating edge should be reviewed to
ensure the functional stability of the locating tower (Fig. 8):
Le=L-d (19)
where Le is the effective locating edge length, L is the original length of the
locating edge, and d is the length of the locating surface.
The adjustable stop can be treated as a circular locator with a radius r
as a variable
min-acting-distance < r < max-acting-distance (20)
U sing such a geometric representation, the input geometry transformation
may be used to perform geometric analysis by expanding the corresponding
locating edges by the equivalent radius.
8.3.2 Case 2: Locating with Hole Pins
If the locator configuration employs a circular round pin or diamond pin to
locate with small internal holes, it is easy to do assembly analysis because
Figure 7 Simplified representation of locating tower (left) and adjustable stop
(right).
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 26/
Figure 8 Application of different locating devices.
the center of hole and hole pin should be aligned. As shown in Fig. 9a, the
first step of assembly is to align the diamond pin with a hole on the base-
plate. Then, the workpiece has only one rotational DOF to find the suitable
assembly holes for other locating edges. Generally, adjustable locators may
be used to ensure the availability of assembly holes for the other two locating
edges. The round-pin application is shown in Fig. 9b.
If two small holes are employed, the distance between the two holes
has to be standard as
0 .. O
2
= kT
(21 )
where 0
1
and O
2
are centers of two holes and T is the baseplate grid distance.
If this condition is not valid, an adjustable-bar support should be used near
the bottom of the workpiece for one hole locator to ensure the assembly of
the hole locator, which then becomes a 3-D locating problem (Fig. 10).
8.3.3 Case 3: Arc Segment Locating Using Circular Locators
When the locating edge is an arc, the input geometry transformation can
also be used by expanding the arc through the equivalent radius of the
locator in the direction of the external normal. It is applicable to both ex-
ternal and internal arcs. The locus analysis is almost the same as those
presented for the line-segment situation. The major difference lies in cal-
culating the workpiece location and orientation.
As described in Sect. 8.2, when the first circular locator is placed in the
baseplate origin, by translating and rotating ei about the origin, e
j
sweeps
out an annulus centered on the origin, with the inner and outer diameters
262 Chapter R
o
o
o ~
(0 o o o
o o
o o o o o
o
~
o o o
o c c
(a)
o o o o o o
o o o o
o
o o o
o
o o
o
o
o
o o
(I

o > 0
o
o o
(b)
Figure 9 (a) Hole-diamond-pin application; (b) Hole-round-pin application.
equal to the minimum and maximum distances, respectively, between ej and
e
j
The position set of the locator contacting ej should be within the swept
annulus as
where PI is the origin of the baseplate lattice.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD
263

a

a


0

0

et

D

0

"



"


a

D

D

D
0 0





a


ell





0

a


Figure 10 Pin-hole locating with an adjustable bar.
It should be noted that the e
j
and e
j
could be either line or arc segments
when using circular locators. However, in the case of applying other types
of locators with arc edges, such as a V-pad and a half-Vee, the method of
finding locator positions with hole alignment relationships needs to be stud-
ied further.
8.3.4 Case 4: Locating with a V-Pad
In Table 1, when the locating triplet is composed of one line segment e
2
and
one external arc el' the recommended locator configuration is using one V-
pad and one circular locating pin. As distinguished from circular locating
pins, assembling a V-pad requires two locating holes in the baseplate instead
of one, and the orientation of the V-pad cannot be arbitrary and must have
four perpendicular orientations.
As shown in Fig. 11, a V-pad is placed around the origin of the baseplate
and oriented in one of the four possible perpendicular orientations. The
center of the locating arc 0
1
as well as the contacting points between V-pad
and the workpiece are then detennined. The position of the circular locating
pin may be found by rotating the workpiece while maintaining a two-point
contact between the external arc e) and the V-pad. The locus of the round
locating pin is a part of the annulus centered in the fixed locating arc cent er
whose inner and outer diameters of the annulus are the minimum and max-
imum distances, respectively, between the arc center and the line segment
e
2
:
264 Chapter 8



0

\11



0-


1

I

<11



0
q

q

q
0

c- V'




0-


q

- .... -- - .. --.. -
(I


C>

<11


0
0
0
0
(a)
0


11

0
q
0
11 0

0 0

t

q
0
q

0-
41


(I

0
q


..




..
0


.. Co



(b)
Figure 11 (a) V-block application; (b) V-block assembly analysis.
P2(O" el' e
2
) = (P2(X, y)lmin-dist(O" e
l
) < O,Pz < max-dist(O" ez)} (23)
The angle scope of the partial annulus is determined by the possible rotation
angle of the locating arc about the V-pad without loss of contact:
<Xmin - 90 + f3 < angle < <Xmax - 90 - f3 (24)
where Umin is the minimum angle between e
l
and e
z
with reference 0
1
Umin
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 265
is the maximum angle between et and e2 with reference 0\, and f3 = 45 for
a 90 V-pad or 30 for a 120 V-pad.
8.3.5 Case 5: Locating with a Half-Vee
A locating configuration may require using one half-Vee (or other line-con-
tact locators) for an arc segment. The assembly character of half-Vee locators
is more complicated than a V-pad. The shape of a half-Vee is shown in Fig.
12a. There are three locating holes in one half-Vee. When assembling, two
holes in the half-Vee are needed to be accurately aligned with two locating
holes in the baseplate. There are only four possible directions for the half-
Vee when assembled to the baseplate. In this section, the two locating holes
VLH, and VLH
2
with equal distance to the oblique edge are analyzed. Other
half-Vee shapes should be addressed via the same method.
First, a half-Vee is placed in a specific position on the baseplate by
aligning VLH, and VLH
2
with two locating holes BLH, and BLH
z
centered
at H, and H2 in the baseplate. When the given arc (e,) centered at 0, main-
tains contact with the half-Vee, it can be transformed by increasing the given
arc by r (Fig. 12a). The contact situation can be thought as an arc rolling
over a line segment.
The second locator position relative to the second locating edge (e:J can
be found using geometric locus analysis. When e, maintains a one-point
contact with a half- Vee, the workpiece can translate and rotate, and e2 sweeps
out, which may be confined to a geometry centered at the connection line
of the two locating holes in the half-Vee. The geometry is derived by the
swept partial annulus when the arc contacting the different positions on the
half-Vee simply rotates without slip. The locus may be refined further by
considering angle limitations of arc rotation (Fig. 12b). Generally, the sweep
geometry by e2 can be defined as a ribbon by satisfying the following
conditions:
1. The locus geometry is relative to a reference line segment H,H
b
where
(25)
where Re is the expanded radius of et and is in the outer normal
direction of H,H
2
.
2. The two limit line segments are determined by offsetting H, H2
through
266 Chapter 8
o
(a)
o





o
4>

(b)
Figure12 (a) Half-Vee; (b) half-Vee assembly analysis (I); (c) half-Vee assembly
analysis (2); (d) two half-Vees assembly analysis.
dist 1 = maximum-distance-refer-to-H, H
2
(O" ~
(26)
dist2 = minimum-distance-refer-to-H, H
2
(O" ~
which means the distance in the direction perpendicular to HI H2
(Fig. ] 2c).
If the second locator is designed to be a circular locating pin, the po-
sition of the locator may be chosen among the generated locus. If the second
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 267
0 <I

j)
4 0
<I

11>


~

~

~

,

Ill'
,

<I
.. .. 0

<I
0

11>
"\
"
, ,
'" " ,
......... "-
'\. ......... _-
(c)
.........
/'
@ 0 @ y 0
0
""'-
@ 0
c
o "-
..--------
"-
./
\
@
~
@ @ 0
0
0\
0
/
I
P
<0
0
0 ~ 0
/
/
I@
0 0
~
0
\
\ 0
IQ)
0
0
\
\
~
c
0
@ @ ()
"-
/
"-
/
(d)
""'-
./
- ----
Figure 12 Continued
268 Chapter 8
locator is designed to be another half-Vee, the position of the second half-
Vee may be found through a similar assembly analysis. Noting that the
second half- Vee can be transformed to an ideal line segment, positioning of
the second half-Vee is required to find the position of the line segment. The
line covering the line segment should be determined first and then the rel-
ative line segment may be determined such that the line segment contacts
the workpiece. Any line intersecting the generated locus may be a candidate.
For the third locator placement (i.e., locating edge e
3
), the position can be
found by considering the intersection of the locus of two pairs: e
l
with e
1
,
and e
2
with e
3
The intersection can cover the swept geometry by maintaining
contact with e
l
and e
2
with the workpiece. Figure 12d shows the swept
region of possible positions for the third locator, which needs to be further
constrained by the feasible rotation angles of the workpiece relative to the
half- Vees when they are in contact.
8.4 3-D FIXTURE CONFIGURATIONS
Two-dimensional fixture planning as discussed earlier is limited to prismatic
workpieces where the height of the workpiece is relatively small. The vast
majority of workpieces are three therefore, it is desirable to
extend the 2-D strategies. Such a fixture configuration design system has
been developed, where when fixturing points are specified, fixturing units
can be automatically generated (Rong and Bai, 1997). In this section, a 3-
D automated modular-fixture planning procedure is presented, followed by
3-D assembly analysis.
8.4.1 3-D Automated Modular-Fixture Planning Procedure
Prior to fixture planning, the orientation of the workpiece relative to the
baseplate as well as machining surfaces in each setup must be determined
in setup planning. First, although the workpiece geometry could be very
complex. only four kinds of surfaces need be considered for locating pur-
poses: planes parallel to the baseplate (surface type A), planes perpendicular
to the baseplate (surface type B), cylindrical surfaces with an axis parallel
to the baseplate (surface type C), and cylindrical surfaces with an axis per-
pendicular to the baseplate (surface type D). A 3-D automated modular-
fixture planner is outlined in Fig. 13.
(a) Determination of Candidate Locating SUliace Set
The first step in using a 3-D automated modular-fixture planning procedure
is to find all candidate locating surfaces based on the above "four-kinds-of-
Geometric Anal.vsis for AMFD
269
determine candidate locating/clamping surface set
n
end
Figure 13 Diagram of 3-D automated modular-fixture planning.
270 Chapter 8
surfaces" assumption. The candidate locating surfaces can be obtained by
retrieving the CAD model of the workpiece. The candidate locating surface
set can be further refined if we assume that locating can be divided into two
types: horizontal and vertical locating. Surfaces of type B and type Dean
be used for horizontal locating. Surfaces of type A and type C can be used
for vertical locating. For vertical locating, those planes whose external nor-
mal is opposite to the baseplate are discarded.
(b) Locating Surface Group Selection
The next step is to select horizontal locating surfaces and vertical locating
surfaces from the candidate locating surface set. Generally, three surfaces
for each locating purpose should be selected as a group. The three vertical
locating surfaces could be reduced to a singular surface. The three horizontal
locating surfaces could be reduced to two surfaces with one surface being
chosen twice. The locating surface groups are selected by considering ac-
curacy relationships, geometric accessibility, and operational conditions. A
priority index may be generated for each locating surface group so that the
surface group with the highest priority will be processed first. If this strategy
fails to provide a reasonable fixture plan, the surface group with the next
highest priority index is chosen until one reasonable fixture plan is gener-
ated.
(c) Horizontal Locating
The third step involves horizontal locating. Horizontal locating surface
groups have been chosen in the second step. Considering each side as a
locating surface, one locating unit (which usually consists of one locator
and several supporting components) is constructed by using the automated
fixture configuration design functions (Rong and Bai, 1997). When the
heights of the locating points are approximately determined (e.g., the half-
height position of the side locating surfaces), the locating units for each side
locating surface are generated with assembly relationships between fixture
components of the units. The assembly analysis is then performed to place
these locating units on the baseplates.
Generally, the position of a 3-D workpiece is determined by six param-
eters: three translation parameters (x, y, and z) and three rotational param-
eters (a, ~ -y) about the x, y, and z axes. Because the workpiece should
maintain orientation relative to the baseplate, the rotational parameters about
x and y axes, a and ~ are fixed. After all the side locating units are placed,
three position parameters (x, y, and -y) will be determined. The parameter z
will be determined by the clearance requirement between the workpiece and
the baseplate.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 271
(d) Vertical Locating
In the vertical locating, the locators are first chosen by considering the types
and surface finish of the vertical locating surfaces. Similarly, the vertical
locating units are generated by applying the automated fixture configuration
design functions.
(e) Clamping Design
In clamping design, the number and type of clamps employed should be
decided first, based on workpiece stability analysis and operational rules.
All possible clamping faces are then collected into a set. A combination of
several candidate clamping surfaces are then selected. Assembly analysis is
performed to place the clamps on the baseplate given the assembly character
of the clamps. A detailed analysis and discussion of clamp planning can be
found in Sect. 8.6.
It should be noted that automated modular-fixture planning for 3-D
workpieces is very complicated. This design methodology only provides a
framework for fundamental analyses of 3-D automated modular-fixture plan-
ning.
8.4.2 3-D Modular Assembly Analysis
Modular assembly analysis is the focus of this chapter, where the modular
assembly analysis for 2-D situations is expanded to three dimensions. In 3-
D situations, locating units instead of locators are the major concerns when
conducting the assembling analysis. Figure 14 shows a sketch of locating
units. A locating unit typically consists of a locator on the top and several
supporting components. In the following, only horizontal locating units are
functional component
y
/
supporting componen
x
bottom component
Xoffset
Figure 14 A sketch of fixture units.
272 Chapter 8
discussed because the assembly of vertical locating units is relatively easy.
The side locating units are divided into two categories based on the char-
acteristics of their locators: direction fixed, and direction variable.
When a workpiece maintains contact with an edge bar, the contact di-
rection is fixed. If the locator is a round locating pin, a locating tower, or
an adjustable stop, the contact direction of the locator can change randomly,
corresponding to the locating surfaces on the workpiece. Placing the direc-
tion-fixed locating units will pose additional constraints on the direction of
the side locating surfaces. In other words, two direction-fixed locating units
may conflict if their locating directions are not compatible. However, using
a direction-fixed locating unit will also simplify the assembly process be-
cause of the assembly constraints. Direction-variable locating units are often
more flexible. Direction-variable locating units will be discussed below.
Given a locating unit, the bottom component is connected with the
baseplate. Generally, the bottom component may use two locating holes to
accurately determine the position and orientation of the bottom component.
If two locating holes are needed, the placement of the locating unit can
have only four directions parallel to the baseplate symmetrical axes. The
other important component in the unit is the locator which contacts with
the workpiece. When the locating unit is generated, all the components in
the locating unit are determined and their relative positions are also deter-
mined (Rong and Bai, 1997). Therefore, the relative position of the locator
to the bottom component can be derived, which is very important to as-
sembly analysis.
In 3-D situations, it is assumed that there are three generated side lo-
cating units, SLU 1, SLU2, and SLU3, which are designed to contact with
the three side locating surfaces, SI, S2, and S3. First, the 3-D workpiece is
projected onto the baseplate and become a 2-D geometry. Because SI, S2,
and S3 are planes or cylindrical surfaces perpendicular to the baseplate, three
segments of lines or arcs are achieved with respect to the three side locating
surfaces. They are then expanded by the radius of each locator respectively
to get three segments of lines or arcs (s I, s2, and s3) and the locators can
be reduced to ideal points (Fig. 15). SLUl is placed around the origin of
the baseplate and locator 1 is also positioned. Thus, s I should maintain
contact with locator 1, whereas sI can rotate and slip. S2 sweeps out an
annulus centered at locator 1 just like the 2-D situation (Fig. 16). The po-
sition of SLU2 can be determined by transforming all the possible placement
origins of bottom components by the x, y offsets of the locator, which may
have four directions. All possible transformed placement origins falling in-
side the swept annulus will be suitable as candidate SLU2 locations. In the
same way, SLU3 can be positioned by considering s3 pairwise consistent
with s I and s2.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 273
o


o



Figure 15 Three-dimensional fixturing unit assembly .
"

..

..





o
Figure 16 Three-dimensional fixturing unit assembly analysis.
274 Chapter 8
When all side locating units are placed, their positions are sent to an-
other module to calculate the x, y translation position and "I rotational po-
sition.
8.5 LOCATING ACCURACY ANALYSIS
The locating accuracy of a fixture design is related to the repeatability of
the workpiece position and orientation relative to the machining tool. The
variations of workpiece dimensions and the locator positions are the major
sources of locating errors. As stated in Sect. 8.2, the position and orientation
of a workpiece can be decided by using a group of equations. To facilitate
the calculation of workpiece position and orientation in fixtures, the pro-
jected geometry of a workpiece on the primary locating plane is transformed
by growing the part by the radius of the locators so that the locators can be
treated as ideal points (Brost and Goldberg, 1996). Then, the workpiece is
assumed to be translated by (x, y) and rotated by 6 relative to the baseplate
while maintaining contacts between the workpiece and locators. In this chap-
ter, the translation of x and y as well as rotation angle e are defined as the
workpiece positional configuration. The variation of the workpiece positional
configuration is regarded as a locating error.
The previous geometric analysis is applicable for the workpiece with
ideal geometry as well as perfect locator position. In real production, the
workpieces in a batch are always made with a certain tolerance. The vari-
ation of the workpiece dimensions may be generated during manufacturing
processes. Therefore, the workpiece geometry is expected to vary slightly
one by one. Because the workpiece positional configuration is determined
by the three locating edges (including line segments and arcs), it will vary
slightly, corresponding to the workpiece geometry variation. When a fixture
is designed and constructed, the locator positions may have positional errors.
It also introduces a variation on the workpiece positional configuration.
Thus, locating accuracy needs to be studied to ensure the variations of the
workpiece positional configuration in the fixture within a certain range. In
this section, locating accuracy is represented by the difference between ac-
tual workpiece positional configuration and ideal workpiece positional con-
figuration. Let the locating edges triplet be e., e
2
, e3 which are designed to
contact with three points P., P
2
, P
J
on the workpiece. The positional config-
uration of the workpiece is then specified by (x
o
, yo, eo), which should satisfy
the assembly relationship equations described in Sect. 8.2. Figure 17 shows
a sketch of workpiece and baseplate coordinate systems (XwO"Y wand
XhOhY
h
).
Geometric Ana!."vs;s for AMFD
275
x
Figure 17 Workpiece and baseplate coordinate systems.
When the workpiece geometry varies and/or the locator positions vary,
the boundary edge equation parameters (e.g., ai, b
i
, and c
i
, i = 1, 2, 3, for
linear edges) will vary within a certain scope. Therefore, x, y, and e will
have different values corresponding to different edge locating variances.
Thus, x, y, and e will be the functions of ai, b
i
, and c
i
, described as
(27)
When differentiating Eqs. (27) relative to the boundary edge equation
parameters, the variation of the workpiece positional configuration (i.e., x,
y, and e) can be estimated by using
3 3 3
~
ax ~ ax ~ dX
x - x + - aa + - ab + - ac
- () i ~ 1 aa ' i ~ 1 ab
i
p i ~ 1 aC
i
i
J J "'
" ay " ay " ay
y = yo + L.J - aai + L.J - abi + L.J - ac,
i ~ 1 aai i ~ 1 ab, ~ I ac,
(28)
In general, it is true that for any geometry, such as arc or curve edges,
the workpiece positional configuration error can be analyzed by using the
set of equations (28). To show the solution procedure, a simple example is
276 Chapter 8
provided (Fig. 18). Assume that only the first locating edge varies by
Then, the first locating edge equation will be changed to
(29)
All other parameters remain constant. Therefore, x, y, and e can be
conceived of as functions of Cl:
The workpiece positional configuration with the variation can be estimated
by
(30)
When the assembly relationship condition is considered, the line equa-
tions can be described by:
a,l(p, - x)cos e + (q, - y)sin 0] + bi[(q, - y)cos 0 - (p, - x)sin e] + c, = 0 (31)
y
,
,
,
,
,
,
1/---
1
, /'
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,

,
,
,
,
,
,
,
,
"..
,/ "

Figure 18 An example of locating edge position variation.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD
The differentiation relative to Cl becomes
where i = 1,2,3 and
{
t, i=t
BiI = 0, i #- 1
The three equations can be rewritten as
[A,
B, (p, - ..,)B, + (q, - yo)A, ]
A2 B2 (P2 - x
O
)B
2
+ (q2' - Yo)A
2
A3 B3 (P3 - XO)B3 + (q3 - YO)A3
277
dx
dc,
~
dy
dc,
de
(33)
dc,
where Ai = -a
i
cos e + b
i
sin e, Bi = -ai cos e - b
i
sin e, and i = 1,2,
3.
From the three equations, the first-order derivative at (x
o
, y<h eo)dx/dc"
dy/dc
l
, and de/dc
l
can be calculated. When the determinant of the matrix in
Eq. (33) is not equal to 0, there is one unique solution for the three deriv-
atives. Therefore, x, y, and e, which define the workpiece positionaI config-
uration, can be estimated using Eq. (33). However, if the determinant equals
zero, there will be no unique solution for the equation set, which is not a
valid locating of the workpiece.
A numerical example is now given on locating repeatability analysis.
As shown in Fig. 19, one simple triangular workpiece is shown with three
locating points defined. For such specific situation, it can be found that
Xo = - 120, Yo = - 120, eo = 0, when T = 30
a, = 1, b, = 1, c, = 240; a2 = 1, b
2
= 0, Cl = 0; al = 0, b1 = 1, Cl =
P, = 0, q, = 0; P2 = -120, q2 = 0; P3 = -60, q1 = -120
278 Chapter 8
y
T
v
n
4
:0.:
0
:(): :():
0
:():
3
0 0
::():
0
::(5:
0
2 ::C)::
0
t):
0
:()::
0
::0:
0
X
0
-1
0
::0:
0 0
-2
::0: ::0:
0
:(J:
0 0
::():
-3
0
::0: 0
::0: ::0:
0
U -N -4 -3 -1 0 2 3 4 x
N
Figure 19 An example for locating repeatability analysis.
Following the above solution procedure, we have
a, ( - ~ : , + (q, - y,,) ~ : , + b, ( - ~ ~ , - (p, - x,,) ~ : , + I = 0
(
dx de ) (d
Y
de)
a, -- + (q, - y ) - + b, -- - (p, - x ) - = 0
- de I - 0 de I - de I - (J dc I
(34)
(
dx de ) (d
Y
de)
a -- + (q - y ) - + b -- - (p - x ) - = 0
, del -' () del' del' 0 del
With the specifications in this example, the equation set is simplified to
dx dy
-- - - + 1=0
del del
dx de
--+ 120-=0
dC
I
dC
I
(35)
dy de
-- - 60-=0
dC
I
dCI
Geometric Analysis for AMFD
The solution becomes
dx
-=2
dC
I
dy
-= -1
dC
I
de
dC
I
60
279
In this way, the sensitivity of the variance dc) can be evaluated. Al-
though this is a simple example, it illustrates the procedure of the fixturing
accuracy analysis, which verifies the fixture-design results.
8.6 CLAMP PLANNING
When locating positions are determined and the workpiece positional con-
figuration is calculated, clamp positions need to be selected and verified to
secure the workpiece positional configuration. In this section, a step-by-step
algorithm is developed to find the possible clamp position. Planar-object-
constraint analysis is performed to evaluate the clamping stability for a given
clamping edge.
Generally, the possible clamping points can be found by the following
three steps:
A. All the possible clamping edges are enumerated as clamping edge
candidates after discarding the selected locating edges and consid-
ering the machining envelope. When one clamping edge candidate
intersects with the machining envelope, the intersection should be
cut off from the clamping edge.
B. All the clamping edge candidates are tested using clamping con-
straint analysis to find the possible clamping points set correspond-
ing to the locating plans. This step is the major portion of the
algorithm and will be discussed in more detail.
C. Geometric analysis for modular-fixture assembly is finally per-
formed to get all possible clamping points. The position of the
workpiece is fully constrained in locating planning. When design-
ing a clamp unit for one clamping edge, the discrete assembly po-
sitions of the clamp are enumerated by the requirement of modular-
fixture assembly relationships, as described in Sect. 8.3. The actual
clamping point on the workpiece will then be calculated. If it falls
280 Chapter 8
within the precalculated clamping points set, It IS a reasonable
clamping design. Otherwise, it needs to be redesigned.
The problem of restraining the planar motion of a 2-0 object was an-
alyzed (Reuleaux, 1963). As shown in Fig. 20a, when an object is restrained
by a point contact A, it is free to rotate in both counterclockwise (CCW) or
clockwise (CW) directions. Let the line perpendicular to the contact surface
be L. Line L divides the 2-0 space into two regions: a and b. Any point in
region a can be the center of instantaneous CCW rotations, and any point
in region b can be the center of CW rotations. The approach can be also
implemented into multiple-point constraints. In Fig. 20b, the 2-0 space is
divided into six regions by the contacting lines in the 3-2-1 locating
scheme (Chou and Barsh, 1990). Points in region b3 cannot be the center
of rotation, as CCW and CW rotation are restrained by points C and B,
respectively. Similarly, points in b I, b2, and a2 cannot be the center of
rotation. The regions of rotation centers are reduced to a 1 and b4. Therefore,
the instant rotational center (lRC), either CCW or CW, may only fall into
the labeled regions a 1 and b4, which are referred to as CCW IRC and CW
IRC regions. The main purpose of clamping is to constrain possible rotations
of the workpiece from the locating position. Therefore, the clamping position
should be selected such that the CCW IRC and CW IRC regions can be
eliminated.
The clamping edges can be any geometric entity, such as an arc or other
curves. Only the normals of the locating edges on the locating points are
considered. The position of the clamp should completely reduce the IRC
regions to the non-IRC regions, or null regions, thus eliminating the rota-
tional freedom of the object. In the work of Chou and Barsh (1990), only a
simple workpiece which employs the 2- 1 side locating principle for the 2-
,
,
,
ccw.
~ ,
)'
a ,
,
,
S:. :
) :
cw aI: bI ,b3
b
- - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - r - - - - - -
, ,
a2: b2 : b4
, ,
: ~
: ~
c
CW
A B
(a) (b)
Figure 20 Two-dimensional object-constraint analysis. (From Chou and Barsh,
1990.)
Geometric Analysis for AMFD
281
D situation is considered. In this section, it is expanded to a complex work-
piece geometry with linear and arc side locating surfaces which are not
necessary to be perpendicular to each other. An analysis procedure is de-
veloped to find the possible clamping points satisfying clamping constraint
conditions.
Assume that the workpiece is located by three locators contacting three
locating edges e" e2, and e3 at P" P
2
, and P
3
, respectively. In order to con-
strain the three degrees of freedom (DOFs), e" e2, and e
1
cannot be all
parallel. Therefore, the contacting force directions at el' e
2
, and e:
h
say Oh
O
2
, and D), respectively, cannot all be parallel. In general, it is assumed that
n
l
and n
2
are not parallel and intersect at point 0, as shown in Fig. 21 a. The
2-D space is divided into four parts by 0, and O
2
, By the above approach,
regions Band D are the null regions, A is the CCW IRC region, and C is
the CW IRC region. When the third contacting force is applied, the situation
is more complicated if considering the different possible directions of the
third one. The three cases are discussed below.
8.6.1 03 Lies WithiD -01 aDd -0
2
In this situation, D) divides regions A and C into four regions and forms a
new region E. E is the triangle enclosed by 0
1
, O
2
, and n" which could be
degenerated into a point if 0
3
passes through 0. It can be found that both
regions A and C become the null regions. Region E remains as an IRC, with
the same rotational direction as A or C (CW in Fig. 21 b).
8.6.2 03 Lies BetweeD 01 aDd -02, or O
2
aDd -DJ
In this situation, both regions A and C are divided into two smaller regions
by 0
3
(Fig. 21 c). One of them becomes the null region and the other will
still be the IRC with the same direction as the original region. The IRC
regions are enclosed by either two lines or three lines and can stretch to the
infinity.
8.6.3 03 Lies BetweeD D. aDd 02
In this case, D) divides either A or C, say C, into two regions C and E. E
is the triangle enclosed by 0
1
, Db and 0
3
and becomes the null region. A
and C remain the IRC regions, as shown in Fig. 21 d.
The three types of IRC regions are shown in Fig. 22. It should be noted
that the main purpose of clamping is to constrain possible rotations of work-
piece from the locating position (i.e., erase all possible IRC regions). In the
above analysis, the IRC regions have been discussed for different situations
1
Chapter 8
1
1
282
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
(b)
(a)
(d)
(c)
Figure 21 General 2-D constraint analysis.
Figure 22 Three types of IRC region shape.
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 283
of contacting directions. All possible clamping edges have been enumerated
in Step A for the clamping constraint analysis. The procedure of finding a
possible clamping point set with a specific clamping edge is shown below
and it is assumed that only one clamp is needed in the fixture configuration.
Step 1. Consider one available clamping edge from the clamping edge
candidates. Get its line equation, end points, say AB, and contact
force direction (internal normal direction).
Step 2. Consider one of the IRC regions. Project the IRC region onto
the line segment of the clamping edge. One of its ends may lie in
the infinity because the IRC region may stretch to infinity. Keep
record of the end points of the projected line segment, say CD, and
its rotational type.
Step 3. Find the portion of the projected line segment which falls within
the original clamping edge. Let AC and DB be the remaining parts
after the intersection of AB and CD has been cut off.
Step 4. If CD is within a CW IRC region, the portion AC will be the
suitable clamping region, and if CD is within a CCW IRC region,
BD should be selected, as shown in Fig. 23.
Step 5. If all the IRC regions have been considered, the selected portion
of the clamping edge is returned as the final possible clamping point
set. If there is one another IRC region to be processed, let the se-
A
Figure 23 Selection of a clamping point on a given clamping edge.
284 Chapter 8
lected portion of the clamping edge replace the original clamping
edge and go to Step l.
Step 6. Once the clamping point set is obtained, the fixture configuration
design module can be used to generate clamping units with satis-
faction of modular-fixture assembly relationships (Rong and Bai,
1997).
One example of side clamping planning is shown in Fig. 24. The three
side locating points are shown in the figure as well as the IRC regions.
Following the above procedure, a derived feasible area (LC) is derived on
the clamping edge, which can eliminate the two IRCs at the same time.
The clamping algorithm is based on the assumption that only one clamp
is needed. However, for some workpieces, one clamp may not be sufficient
to eliminate all of the IRC regions. For example, in Fig. 25a, it is not
possible to use one clamp to eliminate the entire IRC region for the trian-
gular workpiece with three locating points, as shown in the figure. Two or
even more clamps should be used to fully erase the IRC regions. Therefore,
additional discussions are necessary.
/J
/ '
// /// I ." .. ",
// // ~ ,,"
< ~ , /' //'" I"
'''-'''' _/ .'
/'
/'
."
."
,,'
<: .,,'
.... ~ ~
." ........
",' ........
."
Figure 24 One example of side clamping planning.
clamping
direction
Le
Geometric Analysis for AMFD
285
(a)
c1amp2
Figure 25 (a) For a triangular workpiece, it is not possible to use one clamp; (b)
using two clamps to eliminate one IRe.
The condition for using only one side clamp is as follows. There exists
one available clamping edge Ec, which satisfies the condition that the pro-
jection of CCW and CW regions are separated spatially, and the CW region
projection is on the left side (and/or CCW region projection is on the right
side) of the selected clamping point, if looking in the direction of the clamp
acting direction or the internal normal direction of the selected edge. If it is
286 Chapter 8
clampl
Figure 26 Using two clamps to eliminate two IRCs.
found out that one clamp is not enough to constrain the possible rotation,
two clamps may be used. The design can be carried out by using each clamp
to eliminate one IRC region if there are two IRC regions. If only one IRC
exists, the first clamp should decrease the IRC region as much as possible
and the second one should erase the rest of the IRC region where the clamp-
ing sequence needs to be considered carefully. Figures 25b and 26 show
examples of using two clamps for a full constraint.
8.7 DISCUSSION ON FIX TU RING ACCESSIBILITY
Fixturing accessibility is an important aspect in selecting fixturing (espe-
cially locating) surfaces and points. In fixture planning, two types of acces-
sibility should be considered. The first one is the reachability of an individual
workpiece surface, which is an important measure in locating and clamping
surface selection. The second one is the ease of loading and unloading the
workpiece into a fixture, which refers to the configuration of three locating
points on work piece surfaces. In this section, the loading/unloading acces-
sibility is discussed. It is assumed that clamps have been removed from the
fixture configuration. Thus, only three locators are presented in the fixture
when the workpiece is loaded or unloaded.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 287
There are three kinds of IRC regions as discussed in Sect. 8.6. In case
A, only one CW or CCW rotational triangle exists and all other regions are
null regions. The loading process can be conceived so that the workpiece is
first placed in the vicinity of the final position, then rotated to contact with
the three locators for a final position, which can be seen in Fig. 21 b. The
rotational direction to make the contact is opposite the direction of the CW
or CCW rotation indicated in the triangle region. The unloading process is
similar to the loading process.
In case B, two IRC regions are found. In this situation, the workpiece
is easier to load into the fixture than the situation in case A. It allows the
workpiece to move linearly in one direction (Fig. 21c) to contact with one
of the locators, and rotate slightly to contact with the other two locators.
In case C, the workpiece has the best accessibility because it has a wider
open scope than the other two. Generally, the workpiece may move in two
perpendicular directions to contact with two locators, and finally rotate to
contact with the last locator.
Usually, the larger the IRC region is, the better the accessibility of the
fixture configuration will be. The standard 3-2-1 locating scheme with
three perpendicular plane surfaces is an indication of good fixturing acces-
sibility, which should be considered with a priority in locating surface se-
lection. It can be further simplified to consider the directions of the contact
forces instead. Assume that two contact forces fl and f2 intersect at point 0
and line L divides the angle between fl and f2 equally. Then, the third contact
force f3 maintains an angle e with L. The accessibility can be generally
evaluated as the larger e is, the worse the accessibility is. Figure 27 is a
graphic sketch of the three force vectors.
L
Figure 27 Accessibility analysis.
288
Chapter 8
(a)
(b)
Figure 28 (a) Fixture design example I; (b) fixture design example 2.
Geometric Analysis for AMFD 289
The above discussion only provides one criterion to evaluate the load-
ing/unloading accessibility of the fixture. A complete accessibility analysis
could be very complicated, as it involves more technical problems such as
the geometric complexity of the workpiece and reasoning of geometric en-
tities in a CAD model of the workpiece.
8.8 EXAMPLES AND SUMMARY
A geometric analysis for automated fixture planning has been presented,
which is an expansion of previous research on automated fixture configu-
ration design and 2-D geometric synthesis. Cylindrical surfaces, different
types of locating components, and 3-D fixture configurations have been con-
sidered in the analysis. Figure 28 shows two examples of fixture designs
resulting from the fixture planning and fixture configuration design.
Analytical discussions of fixturing accuracy, clamping planning, and fix-
turing accessibility are presented in this chapter. Together with geometric
analysis, these analyses may provide a scientific foundation for automated
fixture planning. Although fixture design is a complex task and usually in-
volves human expertise, applying computer technology to generate and ver-
ify feasible solutions with alternatives is possible and greatly beneficial,
especially in flexible manufacturing systems and computer-integrated man-
ufacturing systems. The necessary conditions of fixture planning can be iden-
tified in the analyses, which may make the automated fixture design possible
and applicable in production.
REFERENCES
Asada, H., and A. By (1985), "Kinematic Analysis of Workpart Fixturing for Flex-
ible Assembly with Automatically Reconfiguration Fixtures," IEEE Transac-
tions on Robotics and Automation, Vol. RA-I, No. 2, pp. 86-93.
Bai, Y, and Y Rong (1998), "Modular Fixture Element Modeling and Assembly
Relationship Analysis for Automated Fixture Configuration Design," Journal
of Engineering Design and Automation, special issue on rapid prototyping and
reverse engineering, Vol. 4, No. 2, pp. 147- 162.
Brost, R. c., and K. Y Goldberg (1996), "A Complete Algorithm for Designing
Planar Fixtures Using Modular Components," IEEE Transactions on Robotics
and Automation, Vol. RA-12, No. 1, pp. 31-46.
Brost, R. c., and R. R. Peters (1996), "Automatic Design of 3-d Fixtures and As-
sembly Pallets," in IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Auto-
mation.
Chang, C. H. (1992), "Computer-Assisted Fixture Planning for Machining Pro-
cesses," Manufacturing Review, Vol. 5, No. I, pp. 15 - 28.
290 Chapter 8
Chou. Y. C . V. Chandru, and M. M. Barash (1989). "A Mathematical Approach to
Automatic Configuration of Machining Fixtures: Analysis and Synthesis,"
Journal of Engineering for Industry, Vol. Ill, pp. 299-306.
de Meter, E. C. (1993), "Selection of Fixture Configuration for the Maximization
of Mechanical Leverage," in Manufacturing Science and Engilleering, AS ME
WAM, New Orleans, LA, PED-Vol. 4, pp. 491-506.
Ferreira, P. M .. and C. R. Liu (1988). "Generation of Workpiece Orientations for
Machining Using a Rule-based System," International Journal of Robotics
and CIMS, Vol. 4. pp. 545-555.
Joneja, A., and T. C. Chang (1989), "A Generalized Framework for Automatic Plan-
ning of Fixture Configuration," in Advances in Manufacturing S.vstems En-
gineering, ASME WAM, San Francisco. pp. 17-28.
Mani, M., and W. R. D. Wilson (1988), "Automated Design of Workholding Fixtures
using Kinematic Constraint Synthesis." in 16th NAMRC. pp. 437-444.
Markus. A .. E. Markusek. J. Farkas. and J. Filemon (1984). "Fixture Design Using
Prolog: An Expert System," International Journal of Robotics and CIMS. Vo!.
I. No. 2, pp. 167-172.
Menassa. R. J., and W. DeVries (1990), "A Design Synthesis and Optimization
Method for Fixtures with Compliant Elements," in Advances in Integrated
Product Design and Manufacturing. ASME WAM, Dallas. TX. PED- Vol. 47,
pp. 203-218.
Nnaji, B .. S. Alladin. and P. Lyu (1988), "A Framework for a Rule-Based Expert
Fixturing System for Face Milling Planar Surfaces on a CAD System Using
Flexible Fixtures," Journal of Manufacturing Systems. Vol. 7. No. 3, pp. 194-
207.
Penev, K . and A. Requicha (1995). "Fixture Foolproofing for Polygonal Parts," in
IEEE International Symposium on Assembly and Task Planning, Pittsburgh,
PA.
Pham, D. T.. and A. de Sam Lazaro (1990), "AUTOFIX-An Expert CAD System
for Jig and Fixtures." International Journal of Machine Tools and Manufac-
ture, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 403-411.
Reuleaux, F. (1963). Kinematics of Machiner.v. Macmillan and Co . London.
Rong, Y., and Y. Bai (1997), "Automated Generation of Fixture Configuration De-
sign." Journal of Manufacturing Science and Engineering. Vo!. 119. No. 2,
pp. 208-219.
Rong. Y.. W. Li, and Y. Bai (1995). "Locating Error Analysis for Fixture Design
and Verification." in ASME Computers in Engineering, Boston, MA. pp. 825-
832.
Rong. Y., J. Zhu. and S. Li (1993). "Fixturing Feature Analysis for Computer-Aided
Fixture Design." in Manufacturing Science and Enginerring. AS ME WAM.
New Orleans. LA. PED-Vol. 64. pp. 267-271.
Sakal. R .. and J. G. Chow (1991). "A Semigenerative Computer-aided Fixture De-
sign System using Autocad and CAD Fixturing Database." in Computer-aided
Production Engineering. Cookeville, TN. pp. 458-461.
Geometric Anal.vsis for AMFD 291
Trappey, A. J. C., C. s. Su, and S. H. Huang (1993), "Methodology for Location
and Orientation of Modular Fixtures," in Manufacturing Science and Engi-
neering, ASME WAM, New Orleans, LA, PED-Vol. 64, pp. 333-342.
Whybrew, K., and B. K. A. Ngoi (1990), "Computer-aided Design of Modular
Fixture Assembly," International Journal of Advances in Manufacturing Tech-
nology, Vol. 7, pp. 267 -276.
Zhuang, Y, K. Goldberg, and Y. Wong (1996), "On the Existence of Modular Fix-
tures," International Journal of Robotics Research, Vol. 15, No. 6, pp. 646-
656.
9
Fixturing Accuracy
Analysis and Verification
9.1 INTRODUCTION
Manufacturing accuracy depends on relative positions of the machining tool
and the workpiece (Rong and Wu, 1988). Fixtures are used to locate and
hold a workpiece in proper position during machining processes. The de-
velopment of computer-aided fixture-design (CAFD) systems is becoming
increasingly important within flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) and
computer-integrated manufacturing systems (CIMS) (Thompson and Gandhi,
1986). Basically, two major approaches exist in CAFD. The first one is the
rule-based (or knowledge-based) automated fixture design where geometric
reasoning, kinematics analysis, or screw theory may be applied (Pham and
de Sam Lazaro, 1990; Trappey and Liu, 1990a; Chou et aI., 1989). The
second is group technology (GT)-based search and retrieval of existing fix-
ture designs (Grippo et aI., 1987; Rong and Zhu, 1992). The former is ideal
for total automation but usually can only be applied to simple workpiece
geometry because of the difficulties in geometric modeling and rule extrac-
tion. The latter is practical for industrial applications due to the use of ex-
isting knowledge in fixture designs.
Once a fixture is designed by CAFD, its performance needs to be eval-
uated. Fixture-design performance may include locating accuracy for ensur-
ing tolerance requirements of a product design, clamping and machining
stability, fixturing stiffness to resist fixture component deformations, and
tool-path interference-free (Menassa and De Vries, 1991). In previous re-
search of CAFD, a possible interference between the cutting tool and fixture
components was visually checked (Barry 1982); a force equilibrium of ma-
292
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
293
chining and clamping was verified (Trappey and Liu, 1989); clamping sta-
bility was automatically evaluated (Rong et aI., 1994a); locating rigidity was
considered and the supporting position was optimized (Menassa and De-
Vries, 1990); and fixture component deformation was studied (Zhu et aI.,
1993). Actually, locating accuracy is the most important performance mea-
sure because the major purpose of CAFD is to provide a fixture design which
can ensure the machining quality in manufacturing processes. Unfortunately,
omitting the dimensioning and tolerancing (D&T) analysis is very common
in CAFD research (Trappey and Liu, 1 990b ). Very few articles take into
account D&T information when flexible fixturing issues are discussed, in-
cluding a simple case study of tolerance buildup in modular-fixture design
(Kumar and Nee, 1990) and a monitoring and diagnosis of fixturing failure
detection in autobody assembly (Ceglarek and Shi, 1994).
Tolerance analysis has been an important problem in mechanical design,
process planning, assembly, and fixture design. Computer-aided tolerancing
has become one of the key issues in concurrent engineering (CE) and CIMS
(Roy et aI., 1991; Zhang and Huq, 1992). Because computer numerical con-
trol (CNC) machine tools and machining centers are widely utilized in in-
dustry, fixture-design functions have been changed to a simple structure,
high accuracy, and single setup for multiple operations (Rong et aI., I 994b ).
Therefore, accuracy analysis becomes more important and the method used
should be adaptable to these changes. Multioperation under a single setup
becomes popular in modem manufacturing when fixture design plays im-
portant roles in the realization of machining process design and NC pro-
gramming. In order to verify fixturing accuracy, machining errors need to
be analyzed.
9.2 MACHINING ACCURACY ANALYSIS
Much research has been carried out to implement the computer-aided toler-
ancing in manufacturing systems. Most current tolerance-related research is
concerned with the operational and assembly tolerance chain analysis in the
computer-aided process planning (CAPP) and assembly, including tolerance
modeling and analysis for satisfying clearance conditions of mating parts
(Lee and Woo, 1990), tolerance allocation for mechanical assembly with
automated process selection (Greenwood and Chase, 1987; Chase et aI.,
1990), studies on optimal tolerance assignment problems in CAPP (Dong
and Soom, 1990; Manivanna et aI., 1989), and operational tolerance analysis
of a rotational workpiece with setup effects, where the dependency of di-
mension variations in different operations was first considered (Zhang et aI.,
1991). Boerma and Kals (1988) studied the fixture-setup planning from the
294 Chapter 9
view of ensuring tolerances of the workpiece. In their work, different kinds
of tolerance are converted into nondimensional values representing the max-
imum possible rotational error. These nondimensional values were called the
"tolerance factors," which can be compared. The process of fixture planning
is to determine the locating (as well as clamping) positions and directions,
which is primarily determined by and based on tolerance factors to ensure
the fixturing accuracy.
Analysis and synthesis of design and operational dimensions and tol-
erances are two aspects of computer-aided tolerancing. Tolerance charting
is a tool representing relationships among dimensions and tolerances in dif-
ferent operations and setups. In previous studies, a trace method was de-
veloped for tolerance charting with consideration of form and position tol-
erance effects (He and Lin, 1992; He and Gibson, 1992); a graph
representation and linear programming method was applied to the tolerance
charting problem for allocating tolerances among individual machining cuts
(Mittal et aI., 1991); a tree approach with a linear programming model was
proposed for tolerance assignment in the tolerance charting (Ji, 1993a,
1993b); a routed tree representation and relationship matrix method was
developed for tolerance chart balancing (Ngoi, 1992, 1993); a dimensional
tree method was utilized to determine operational dimensions and tolerances
(Li and Zhang, 1989); the machining process effect was considered in stack-
up analysis of tolerances (tool wear and setup selection may affect machin-
ing errors) (Mei and Zhang. 1992); manufacturing cost effects were consid-
ered in tolerance synthesis (Dong and Soom, 1990; Dong and Hu, 1991),
especially in optimum selection of discrete tolerances (Lee and Woo, 1989;
Zhang and Wang, 1993); and by using descriptive rules and reasoning al-
gorithms, expert systems were developed for tolerance assignment and ver-
ification in CAPP (Abdou and Chang, 1993; Panchal et aI., 1992; lanakiram
et aI., 1989). Most of these researches studied linear dimension problems,
assumed independent relationships among dimension variations, and did not
consider setup and fixture design effects in the tolerance chain analyses,
especially for nonrotational parts machined with machining centers.
9.2.1 Machining Error Analysis
Machining error is contrary to the measure of machining accuracy. Dimen-
sional tolerance is an allowable variation range of a dimension. The product
designer provides tolerances to limit the range of machining errors. The
deviation of the actual dimension from the theoretical dimension is the ma-
chining error. In a machining process, the errors include cutter- fixture rel-
ative alignment errors, tool wear, motion errors of a machine table, force
and thermal effects, and vibration. These undesirable operating conditions
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 295
are inevitable. Therefore, the dimensions generated cannot be exactly equal
to the theoretically desired dimensions. Figure 1 shows some general de-
scriptions of machining errors which are the differences between the actual
dimension and the theoretical dimension, where Fig. 1 a is the linear dimen-
sional error, dX, and Figs. 1 b-ld are angular dimensional errors, da [re-
ferred to as orientation errors (Foster, 1982)], including parallel, perpendic-
ular, and angular errors.
A fixture is applied to locate the workpiece relative to the cutter, to
ensure the product quality because the dimensional accuracy primarily de-
pends on the relative position of the workpiece and the cutter in the ma-
chining process. When locating datum in the fixture design is different from
the measuring datum in the product design, an operational tolerance chain
is formed and needs to be analyzed to estimate machining errors. In this
chapter, dependent relationships of operational dimensions are analyzed. It
is assumed that the workpiece size is not too large so that the tool wear
within one setup is constant, although more than one cut may be involved,
and the motion error of the machine table is random and uncontrollable
without a specially designed compensator. Therefore, the variations of work-
X'
(a)
Actual position of
the s\rface
Theoretical position of
the machined surface
/ (// Datum)
Datum
(b)
Theoretical position of
the machined surface (1. Datum)
Theoretical position of
the machined surface
v
I
I
I
(c)
/
Datum
Actual position of \
the machined surface \
__ -
__ ::-: ___ 1 __________ _
/'
Datum
(d)
a.
Figure 1 Descriptions of linear and angular dimension machining errors.
296 Chapter 9
piece dimensions (linear and angular) are not considered as functions of
time.
(a) Machining Errors of Linear Dimensions
Machining errors can be divided into two components (Rong et aI., 1988),
deterministic and random components, defined by
(I)
where ax is the error of dimension X; aX
d
and aX
r
are the deterministic
and random components ofaX, respectively, which could be positive or
negative corresponding to a figure larger or smaller than the nominal di-
mension X.
The deterministic and random components of machining errors can be
recognized based on the analysis of machining processes. For example, in
the study of variations of different dimensions generated in a machining
center with a single setup and using the same cutting tool, the following
discussion is true. Generally speaking, the deterministic machining errors
are primarily determined by the locating errors of the fixture, including the
position error of fixture locating components and datum variations of the
workpiece, errors caused by tool- fixture alignment errors and tool wear, and
other deterministic errors in the machining process, that is,
(2)
where ax\ is an error component due to the fixture locating errors, aX
t
is
an error component due to tool alignment errors and too] wear, and ax"
represents other deterministic errors.
The random errors are primarily determined by the clamping deforma-
tion, cutting force and thermal deformation during the machining process,
and other random components of machining errors.
Each of the error components listed above can be estimated either by
theoretical calculations or from empirical data. However, in a machining
process, not every dimension can be directly generated. Some dimensions
are formed as resultant dimensions by several relevant dimensions (Li and
Zhang, 1989). The errors of relevant dimensions may affect the resultant
dimension. The deterministic machining errors may be added or canceled
with different fixturing methods. The widely used method of stacking errors
is the dimension and tolerance (D&T) chain theory which assumes an in-
dependence of the variations of the relevant dimensions (Bjork, 1989). The
variations of the relevant dimensions are summed up as the variation of the
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 297
resultant dimension. This theory cannot be used directly to analyze the chain
of dimensions which are machined in CNC machine tools or machining
centers because the dimensions are dependent (Zhang et aI., 1991). This
section discusses a more general D&T chain issue which is not only suitable
for turning but also for milling and other machining operations.
Figure 2 shows a machining case performed on a vertical CNC machine
tool, where all machining and locating surfaces are indexed by numbers. If
the subscripts are defined to present the dimension between the two surfaces,
dimensions X
3
-
S
, X
3
-
7
and X
9
-
8
, X
9
-
6
are obtained in the first setup. Di-
mension Xs _ I is obtained in the second setup. Dimension Xs _ 7, X3 _ I are
ensured indirectly by dimensions X
3
-
5
, X
3
-
7
and X
3
-
S
, Xs_ J, and dimension
X
6
-
8
is ensured indirectly by dimensions X
9
-
8
, X
9
-
6

Because the dimensions X
3
-
5
, X
5
-
1
are machined in different setups with
different cutting tools, they are independent of each other because the var-
iations of these dimensions are dominated by the relative distance between
the locating datum and cutting tool, as well as other random factors. The
possible variation of resultant dimension X
3
-
1
can be calculated by the D&T
chain method where the worst cases could be considered in error estimation,
that is,
where aX
3
_
1
is a possible variation of dimension X
3
_
1

Dimensions X
3
-
S
, X
3
-
7
are machined in the same setup with the same
cutting tool so that their variations are dependent. The two machining sur-
faces 5 and 7 have the same normal directions. The tool error (alignment
error and tool wear) and locating errors are in the same direction with an
identical value for both X
3
-
5
and X
3
-
7
(aX
12
and aX
I2
in Fig. 3). When
calculating the possible variation of X
S
-
7
, aX
3
_
5d
and a X ~ _ 7 d will cancel
X9-8
11
X6-8 x9-6
11
/
/
XS-7
5
8
7
6
/
x3_S
9
4
X3-
12 12
Figure 2 A workpiece machined in a vertical machining center.
298 Chapter 9
I

1
. Xl2
Figure 3 Effect of tool errors and fixture locating errors.
each other (including tool alignment and wear errors, and fixturing locating
errors). Therefore, the variation of the resultant dimension X
S
-
7
becomes
6Xs 7 = +
(4)
In this case, the variation of the resultant dimension is only the summation
of the random components of the relevant dimensions.
However, if dimensions X
J
-
S
and X
J
-
7
are machined in the same setup
with different cutting tools, the variation of the resultant dimension X
S
-
7
becomes
(5)
Only the locating errors may be canceled, whereas the tool alignment error
and tool wear effect may be different and cannot cancel each other.
In the case of the resultant dimension X
6
-
8
, which is a result of dimen-
sions X
Y
-
8
and Xy _(" the two machining surfaces 8 and 6 are obtained from
the same setup and with the same tool, and have opposite normal directions.
The tool errors of X
Y
_
8
and X
9
-
6
have the same value but opposite direction
in Fig. 3) (i.e., aX
9
-
8t
= - axy _
6t
). Therefore, the variation of resultant
X6 _ 8 should be calculated as
(6)
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
299
From the above discussion, it can be seen that a different setup planning
may result in different combinations of the relevant dimensions in forming
the resultant dimension, where the calculation of the variation of the resul-
tant dimension should be different. The same conclusion can be drawn from
the angular dimension analysis.
(b) Machining Errors of Angular Dimensions
When a part design contains an accuracy requirement of orientations (par-
allelism, perpendicularity, or angularity), the machining errors can be ana-
lyzed and calculated in terms of an angular dimension chain. If more than
one operation are involved, the variation of the resultant angular dimension
can also be discussed by examining the dependencies between the relevant
angular dimensions. Because the tool alignment error and tool wear may
affect the parallelism, perpendicularity, or angularity differently with the
effects on linear dimensions, the analysis in the last section should be mod-
ified according to the analysis of angular dimension chains.
Similar to the linear dimension errors, the angular dimension errors can
also be divided into deterministic (dad) and random (da
r
) components, that
is,
(7)
Because it is assumed that the workpiece size is not very large and the
tool wear effect is not significant in one-workpiece machining, the tool align-
ment error and tool wear will not affect the parallelism, perpendicularity, or
angUlarity errors. Therefore, the deterministic machining errors are mainly
composed of fixture locating errors (dal) and other deterministic errors
(da
o
), that is,
(8)
In order to illustrate the dependent relationships between angular di-
mensions, the part in Fig. 2 is taken as an example, where the parallelisms
between surfaces 1 and 3, 5 and 7, and the perpendicularity between surfaces
2 and 3 are considered. Because surfaces 1 and 3 are processed in different
setups (surface 3 is assumed as a premachined surface), the parallelism be-
tween these two surfaces is ensured through surface 5. Therefore, the par-
allelism error between surface 1 and 3 can be estimated as:
300 Chapter 9
By using the same principle, the perpendicularity error between surfaces
2 and 3 can be expressed as
(10)
Surfaces 5 and 7 are obtained in the same setup. Their common datum is
surface 3. Therefore, the parallelism error can be calculated as
(11 )
where the deterministic errors, and cancel each other.
Because the tool alignment error and tool wear do not contribute to the
angular errors, Eq. (11) is valid for the machining error estimation under
one setup, whether or not the normal directions of the surfaces are the same
or not and whether or not the surfaces are machined with the same or dif-
ferent cutting tools.
(c) Summary on Machining Error Analysis
Based on the above analysis, the following five models can be summarized
and defined:
Dimensional variation relationship model 1: The variation of dimen-
sions between a locating datum and machining surfaces contains
deterministic and random components. If a dimension of the ma-
chining surface can be generated and measured directly from the
locating surface, its variation can be calculated by using Eq. (1) for
linear dimensions or Eq. (7) for angular dimensions.
Dimensional variation relationship model 2: If a resultant dimension
is generated indirectly by two relevant dimensions which are ma-
chined in the same setup with the same tool, and the two surfaces
associated with the resultant dimension have the same normal di-
rection, the variation of the resultant dimension is only the sum-
mation of the random components of the relevant dimensions and
can be calculated by Eq. (4) for linear dimensions or Eq. (ll) for
angular dimensions.
Dimensional variation relationship model 3: If a resultant dimension
is determined indirectly from two relevant dimensions that are ob-
tained in the same setup with the same tool and the two surfaces
forming the resultant dimension have opposite normal directions,
the variation of the resultant dimension will be the summation of
the deterministic and random components of the relevant dimen-
sions, where their deterministic components caused by the tool
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 301
alignment error and tool wear are the same and added up, and the
deterministic components resulting from the fixture locating error
are canceled. The variation of the resultant dimension can be cal-
culated by Eq. (6) for linear dimensions. In this case, Eq. (11) is
also valid for angular dimensions because the tool alignment error
and tool wear do not affect the angular errors.
Dimensional variation relationship model 4: If a resultant dimension
is formed indirectly by two relevant dimensions that are obtained
in a same setup with different cutting tools, the variation of the
resultant dimension will be the summation of the deterministic and
random components of the relevant dimensions, where their deter-
ministic components caused by tool alignment error and tool wear
are added up and the deterministic components caused by the fixture
locating error are canceled. The variation of the resultant dimension
can be calculated by using Eq. (5) for linear dimensions. In this
case, Eq. (11) is also valid for angular dimensions.
Dimensional variation relationship model 5: When a resultant dimen-
sion is generated by two relevant dimensions that are obtained in
different setups with different tools, the machining errors involved
in obtaining the relevant dimensions are independent. The variation
of the resultant dimension will be the summation of the determin-
istic and random components of the relevant dimensions and can
be calculated by Eq. (3) for linear dimensions or Eq. (9) [Eq. (10)]
for angular dimensions.
The variation of other dimensions can be considered as a combination
of these five basic models. For example, the variation between surfaces 1
and 7 in Fig. 2 is a combination of model 1 between surfaces 1 and 5 and
model 2 between surfaces 5 and 7, which will be discussed further in the
next section.
In a fixture design, selecting different locating datum will cause different
results of machining errors. In order to achieve a high machining accuracy,
the relationship models 1 and 2 should be chosen with priorities. In the case
of relationship models 3 and 4, reducing the effects of tool alignments and
tool wear is more important than the position error of the fixture locating
elements. In the analysis, form and location tolerances as well as their effects
on the dimensional errors are not included, which may lead to a more com-
plicated discussion.
9.2.2 Datum-Machining Surface Relationship Graph
Since the dimensional variation relationship models have been developed,
how to automatically determine the relationship models of the dimensions
302 Chapter 9
and tolerance (D&T) chain is crucial in the analysis and verification of the
locating accuracy in CAFD. A traditional tolerance chart can only be used
to represent the linear dimensional relationship in one direction and not valid
for angular dimension relationships. A datum-machining surface relation-
ship graph (DMSRG) is developed to solve this problem.
The DMSRG can be defined as a set of relationship graphs G = {G
i
},
i = I, 2, ... , M, where M is the number of setups. G
i
represents the rela-
tionship between datum and machining surfaces in setup i:
G, = {D
i
!, Mib A
ilk
, T
il
,,}, j = 1,2, ... , N; k = 1,2, ... , N; andj"# k (12)
where N is the surface number of the workpiece, Dij is the set of nodes
representing the locating surface j in setup i, Mik is the set of nodes repre-
senting the machining surface j in setup i, A
ijk
is the connections between
nodes Dij and Mik or between Mij and Mib representing manufacturing re-
lationships, and T
ijk
is the set of attributes of the connection A
ijk
. It is defined
as follows: If Tiik = 0, there is a linear dimension and parallelism relationship
determined between the surfaces j and k in set up i (Le., Di/fMik or Mi/f
M,k), which are with same normal directions; if T
ijk
= 180, there is a linear
dimension and parallelism relationship determined between the surfaces j
and k in set up i, but with opposite normal directions; if T
ijk
= 90, there is
a perpendicularity relationship determined between the surfaces j and k in
set up i (i.e., Dii 1- Mik or Mij 1- M
ik
), and not a linear dimension relationship
determined in this setup. In general, T
ijk
= ex represents an angular relation-
ship of the surfaces j and k; and if T
ijk
= 1, there is only a linear dimension
relationship determined between surfaces j and k in setup i.
Figure 4 shows an example of the DMSRG of a machining process for
the workpiece illustrated in Fig. 2. When the DMSRG is constructed, each
geometric surface, such as plane, internal or external surface of a cylinder,
etc. is first assigned by an index number, as shown as in Figure 2. The
datum surfaces and machining surfaces in each setup are represented by the
nodes in DMSRG according to the process planning and fixture-design re-
sults. These nodes are connected by lines with attributes to represent differ-
ent relationships among these surfaces.
In Fig. 4, there are two setups required to processing the workpiece,
where the 3-2-1 locating method is applied. In the first setup, surfaces 3,
9, and 11 are the locating (or datum) surfaces, and surfaces 5, 6, 7, and 8
are the machining surfaces. Similarly, in the second setup, surfaces 5, 9, and
12 are the locating surfaces, and surfaces I, 2, and 10 are the machining
surfaces. These surfaces are represented by the nodes in the figure. The
connecting lines between a locating surface and a machining surface within
one setup represent the model 1 relationships with attributes which specify
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
surface
number
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
II
12
First setup
locating
surfaces
machining
surfaces
Second setup
locating
surfaces
machining
surfaces
303
90
Figure 4 Datum-machining surface relationship graph for the example work-
piece.
the dimension-determining relationships. For example, in the second setup,
the relationship between surfaces 5 and 1 is model 1 with a dimension-
determining relationship because surface 1 is directly generated when sur-
face 5 is the locating datum; Eq. (1) should be used to estimate the ma-
chining errors of the dimension between surfaces 5 and I. If the attribute
value is 90, there is no linear dimension relationship between the datum and
machining surfaces (e.g., the relationship between surfaces 5 and 2).
When the connecting line is between two machining surfaces, it repre-
sents a model 2 relationship (with an attribute of 0) or a model 3 relationship
(with an attribute of 180), where the variation of the resultant dimension is
affected by relevant dimensions and the corresponding formulas should be
applied. Examples of these relationships in Fig. 10 include the relationship
between surfaces 2 and lOin the second setup. The nodes with same surface
304 Chapter 9
numbers are considered as one node which is connected by a dashed line
between two setups (e.g., surfaces 5 and 9).
Once a verification requirement is specified for two surfaces of a work-
piece, a search for the shortest path with a specific attribute between the
surfaces is conducted from the last setup in DMSRG (from right to left).
The shortest path is defined by a minimum number of nodes used to connect
the two surfaces, which reflects the final dependent relationship of the sur-
faces (dimensions) during machining processes. The manufacturing relation-
ship is found and corresponding formulas are used to estimate the machining
errors. For example, to analyze the variation of the linear dimension between
surfaces 1 and 7 in Fig. 10, the shortest path with attributes 1 or is found as
Surface 1 Surface 5 Surface 7
where surface 5 is the locating datum for machining surface 1 in the second
setup and surface 3 is the locating datum for machining surfaces 5 and 7 in
the first setup. Therefore, the variation of the dimension between surface 1
and 7 becomes
dX
1
-7 = dX
I
_
5
+ dX
s
7 (13)
where AX
I
_
5
obeys the model 1 relationship and should be calculated by
using Eq. (1) and AX
S
-
7
obeys the model 2 relationship and should be
calculated by using Eq. (4).
Finally, the variation of the dimension between surfaces 1 and 7 is
calculated by
(14)
The above discussion describes linear dimensions. Actually, angular di-
mensions can be analyzed in the same way. In the DMSRG representation of
dimension-dependency relationships, datum surfaces are separated from ma-
chining surfaces, which is more convenient for relationship tracing. It should
be noted that the DMSRG method can be applied not only in the machining
error analysis with Ne machine tools or machining centers where mUltiop-
erations under a single setup are concerned but also in the problems with
traditional machine tools where the DMSRG becomes wide and shallow (i.e.,
more setups in DMSRG and fewer machining surfaces in one setup).
9.2.3 Relationship Search-Matrix Approach
Datum - machining surface relationship graph is a graphic representation of
datum and machining surface relationships. In order to achieve an automated
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
305
relationship search and automated calculation of variations between the sur-
faces, a computer representation of DMSRG and a relationship search al-
gorithm need to be developed. In this section, a matrix reasoning approach
is introduced for this purpose.
(a) Basic Relationship Matrix
Every setup J corresponds to two matrices AI} = {a:n (I = 1, ~ J = 1, 2,
... , M ~ M is the number of setups). A
IJ
, presenting the relationships between
machining surfaces in setup J, is constructed based on the following rule:
{
o
IJ
ajj = ex
-1
if machining surfaces i and j are parallel and with the same nonnal direction
if machining surfaces i and j have an angular relationship
otherwise
where i and j are surface indexes, i, j = 1, 2, ... , N, and N is the number
of surfaces.
A 2J, presenting the relationships between datum and machining surfaces
in setup J, is constructed based on the following rules:

ex
a
2l
IJ
-1
if datum i and machining surface j are parallel and with the
same nonnal direction
if there is an angular relationship between datum i
and machining surface j
if there is a linear dimension relationship between datum i
and machining surface j
otherwise.
In matrix A
2J
, a ~ J = 1 or 0 indicates a linear dimension relationship and
a ~ J = ex shows an angular dimension relationship between the datum and
machining surfaces. When the angle ex is 0 or 180, the parallel relationship
of surfaces i and j is presented which are in the same or opposite normal
directions, and when ex is 90, the perpendicular relationship is presented.
Therefore, the orientation machining errors (parallelism, perpendicularity,
and angularity) can be evaluated. AI} is defined as a basic relationship matrix
presenting the DMSRG. It shows basic relationships between datum and
machining surfaces. Matrices All, A
21
, A
12
, and A22 are the basic relationship
matrices of a machining process for the workpiece illustrated in Figs. 2 and
4. These matrices are shown in Fig. 5. They can be transferred to specific
matrices according to the kind of machining errors (linear or angular di-
mension errors) needing to be estimated.
306
6 9 JO 11 12
- \ - \ - \ - \ - \ \ - 1 - 1 - \ - 1 - \
- 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -I
- 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
- 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -I
-I - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 <)0 () 90 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
6 -I - I - 1 - 1 "Cl - 1 '/() 1 KO - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
--I - 1 - 1 - 1 11 90 - 1 <)0 -I - 1 - 1 - 1
-I - 1 - 1 - 1 '10 1 f 'XI - 1 - 1 - 1 - I - 1
9 -I - 1 - 1 - 1 -I - 1 - 1 - 1 -I -I -I -I
10 -I - 1 - 1 - 1 -} - 1 - 1 - 1 -I - 1 - 1 - 1
11 -I - 1 - i-I - i 1 - 1 - 1 -I -I -\ -I
12 -} - \ - 1 - 1 -I } - 1 - 1 -I - \ - 1 - 1
6 9 10 11 12
-\ - I - \ \ - \ - I - \ - \ - \ - \ - \
2 -\ \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ \ \ - \ - \
3 -\ - \ -\ - \ 0 90 0 90 -- \ - \ - \ \
-\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\
-\ - \ -- \ - \ - \ - 1 - \ - \ - \ - \ \ - \
6 -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\
7 -\ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \
I -\ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \
9 -\ - \ - \ -- \ - \ \ - \ \ - \ - \ - \ - \
\ -\ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ -- \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \
11 -\ -\ -\ -\ \ 90 -\ 90 -\ -\ -\ -\
\2 -\ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \
Figure 5 Basic relationship matrices.
Chapter 9
6 10 11 12
\ - 1 <)() - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 'It) - 1
2 '10 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -- 1 - 1 1 KO - 1
3 -1 -1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -1 - 1 -1 - 1 - 1
-1 - 1 -1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
- 1 - 1 - 1 -1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 1 - /
- 1 - 1 - 1 - / - 1 1 - 1 - / - / - 1 - 1
- 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
-I -I -/ - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1
9 -I -I - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -} - I - 1 - 1 - 1
\090 ))10 -/ -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -J
11 -I -I -I -1 -I -1 -I -I -I -1 -} \
\2 -\ -1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 -I - 1 - 1 - 1 - \
6 10 \ \ 12
\ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - \ - 1
-\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ \ - \
-\ -\ -\ -\ -\ --I -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -1
\ -\ -\ -\-\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\
o 90 -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ 90 - \ \
6 -1 -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\ -\
7 -\ -\ -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -I
I -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -I -1 -I -I -I
9 -I +1 -I -I -\ -\ -I -1 -\ +1 -1 -1
\0 \ - \ - \ - 1 - \ - \ - \ -- \ - \ - 1 - \ - \
11 -\ -I \ -I -\ -I -I -I -I -I I-I
12 -I 90 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1 - \ 90 \ - 1
(b) Linear Dimension Relationship Matrix
Basic relationship matrices include the information of both the linear and
angular dimension relationships. When linear dimension errors need to be
estimated, a set of linear dimension relationship matrices B IJ should be first
developed from their corresponding basic matrices AIJ. The component, bU,
m BIJ can be generated from aU in AIJ based on the following rules:
if a:t = or 1, b:t = I,
if aU = 180, b:t = -I,
otherwise, b:t = 0.
When b:t = 1 or - I, there is a linear dimension relationship between
surfaces i and j with the same or opposite normal directions. The angular
relationships including parallelism and perpendicularity are represented by
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 307
c:.t in matrix C
IJ
, which is presented in the next section. The meaning of the
matrix BI1 is similar to A
iJ
, where B IJ presents the linear dimension relation-
ship between machining surfaces in setup J and corresponds to model 2 and
model 3; B21 presents the linear dimension relationship between the datum
and machining surfaces in setup J and corresponds to model 1. When two
surfaces are machined based on the same datum but in different setups, the
search process of the dimensional variation relationships needs a third ma-
trix, B
31
= (B21)T (where T denotes the transposed matrix), which can be seen
in Case 3 of the example shown below. Therefore, three sets of matrices are
formed and expressed as B
u
, I = 1, 2, 3; J = 1, ... , M.
Once BIJ is constructed, a linear dimension chain relationship between
specified surfaces (say, m and n) can be determined by checking the cor-
responding nonzero element (brnn or bnrn) in the relationship search matrix B
based on a search strategy. If the two surfaces are in a datum-machining
surface relationship or finally processed in the same setup, the nonzero el-
ement can be found in a single matrix, B
IJ
, representing the relationships in
the setup (see Case 1 in the example). When the relationship spread into
different setups, it can be found as a nonzero element in a matrix obtained
through a matrix multiplication (see Case 2 in the example). The relationship
search starts from right to left until a non zero element is found in a related
location of the matrix. In the search process, a shortest path must be iden-
tified in DMSRG because only the relationship associated with the last op-
erations represents a final relationship between the specified surfaces.
A search algorithm has been designed to identify a dimensional rela-
tionship between specified two surfaces. The input of the algorithm includes
a set of matrices representing linear dimensional relationships for a work-
piece in all setups (i.e., BIJ) and the surface indexes of a specified linear
dimension (m and n). The procedure of the relationship search is as follows.
1 . In the first step, nonzero elements ~ ~ and } ~ (where i and j are
surface indexes) are looked for in matrix B2J (1 = M, M - I, ... ,
1) to determine the last setups in which surfaces m and n are ma-
chined. It can be assumed in a general sense that the setups are H
and G, and G ~ H.
2. If one surface is machined in setup G and the other one is the
locating datum in the same setup (i = n or j = m; i.e., ~ ~ or ~ ~ :F
o in B
2G
), a direct relationship between datum and machining sur-
faces can be identified by the relationship represented by model 1.
The search is finished.
3. If surfaces m and n are machined in the same setup (H = G), the
locating datum should be the same (i = j) where dimensional rela-
tionship model 2 or 3 may be applied. In the corresponding matrix
BIG, it can be found that ~ ~ or ~ ~ :F O.
308 Chapter 9
4. If surfaces m and n are machined in different setups, b::
n
or b ~ ~ is
examined in a newly formed matrix B = BIR * B
2G
, I = I, 2, 3; R =
G - I, ... , 1, until a nonzero value is found, which is in the form
b ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ 0 (or b ~ ~ * ~ ~ ~ 0), where p represents a surface which
is machined in setup R and used as a datum in setup G. Once such
a nonzero element is found and the surface p is not machined in
any setup between Rand G (i.e., b ; ~ = 0, R < L < G; e = 1, 2, ..
. , N), the dimension relationship can be determined with different
relationship models, which can be seen in the examples below. In
this case two related setups are involved.
5. If a dimension is generated within three related setups, a nonzero
element b
mn
or b
nm
can be found from one of the matrices
where I = 1, 2, 3; Qf, Q2 = G - 1, G - 2, ... , 1; and QI < Q2'
With the same rules in Step 4, the dimensional relationship of
surfaces m and n can be identified.
6. When four related setups are necessary in the dimension chain, the
nonzero element b
nlO
or bnm can be found from one of the matrices
where I = 1, 2, 3; Qh Q2, Q3 = G - I, G - 2, ... , 1; and Ql <
Q2 < Q3'
7. When there are even more relevant dimensions, a general search
step needs to be developed. If k relevant dimensions are involved,
the nonzero element b
mn
or b
nm
can be found in the matrix
u v
B
= Il B
3QIU
* BIQI *Il B2QJv * B
2G
,' . . .
lu > lu I I, Jv < Jv + I
u=1 v=1
B = SlQk 1* SlQkl * ... * 3 Q ~ * B'Q' * B2G
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 309
where I = 1, 2, 3; Qh Q2, ... , I = G - 1, G - 2, ... , 1; and
QI < Q2 < Q3 < ... < Qk I'
As long as such a relationship exists, a non zero element b
mn
or b
nm
can
be found by following the above procedure. Therefore, the dimensional re-
lationship of the surfaces can be identified. It should be mentioned that
although there could be many setups designed for a part production, the
number of relevant dimensions in most of the dimension chain analysis
problems for machining operations is less than four, especially for operations
with CNC machines and machining centers. The relationship search proce-
dure can be much simplified.
For example, the matrices All, A21, A12, and A22 are the basic relationship
matrices for the machining case in Fig. 2, and B 11, B21, B 12, and B 22 are the
linear dimension relationship matrices generated from matrices A 11, A 21, A 12,
and A 22, respectively. The elements of the B matrices are shown in Fig. 6.
Case 1: If the variation of the dimension between surfaces 3 and 5
needs to be estimated, the first step is to search their relationship.
According to the relationship search algorithm, the search procedure
is to find a non zero element from the B matrices which refers to
surfaces 3 and 5, in the sequence of BH (I = 1, J = M, ... , I)
and manipulations of B matrices, that is,
In the relationship search matrix B
21
, it is found that b.l'i = 1.
This result shows that the dimension between surfaces 3 and 5 is
ensured directly in setup 1 because the subscript J = 1 in the rela-
tionship search matrix. The relationship between surfaces 3 and 5
is represented by model 1 because the subscript I = 2, which indi-
cates the relationship between datum and machining surface. (When
I = I, model 2 should be applied if b
mn
= I, or model 3 should be
applied if b
mn
= -1.) Hence, Eq. (1) is used to calculate the di-
mension variation between surfaces 3 and 5.
Case 2: When the variation of dimension between surfaces I and 7 is
estimated, the search procedure
In the matrix B 11 * B 22, b71 = * = l. That means the di-
mension between surfaces 1 and 7 is ensured indirectly by dimen-
sions X
7
-
5
and X
5
_
1
. The relationship between surfaces 7 and 5 is
presented by model 2 because = 1, and the machining error
relationship between surfaces 5 and 1 is specified by model 1 be-
o
2 0
J 0
.. ()
5 0
6 n
7 ()
8 0
9 0
I 0
11 0
()
I ' 0
2 0
o
4 0
o
6 0
7 0
8 0
9 0
10 0
11 0
12: 0
310
()
()
o
()
o
o
()
()
(}
o
o
o
o
()
o
o
()
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o
o
o 0
o 0
o 0
o
6
o
o 0
o
o () () 0
() 0 0
o 0 () ()
o o 0 ()
o o + \ () ()
o 0
o + I
o
() -I 0
o () 0 ()
-\ () 0 ()
o ()
o
o () I) 0
o 0 0
o
o
() 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
B"
6
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
o +1 0 +1 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 +1 0 +1
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
o 0 0 0 0
9
o
10 11 12
o 0
()
o
()
()
I)
(}
(}
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
(}
I)
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
~ j
9 10 1I 12
o 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0
o 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o
2 ()
:; 0
.. 0
5 0
6 ()
7 0
8 1 0
9 , 0
10! 0
11\ 0
12 0
o
o 0
o 0
() 0
o 0
I)
() ()
() 0
-I 0
o 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0
4 0. 0 0
5 +1 0
6 0 0 0
7 0 0 0
8 0 0 0
9 0 + I 0
10 0 0 0
11 0 0 0
12 0 0 0
o
o
()
o
o
()
()
I)
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
()
()
o
o
o
4 5
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
6
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o (} ()
o 0 0
() 0
() 0 0
() 0 0
o (}
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
6
o 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
Chapter 9
o
o
o
()
o
o
o
()
o
o
o
9
-I
o
o
()
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
10 11 12
o 0
o
o 0
o 0
o ()
() 0
o 0
o
o ()
o
o ()
o 0
9 10 11 12
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
000 0
o 0
000
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0
o 0
o + I
o 0
o 0
o 0
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
Figure 6 Linear dimension relationship matrices.
cause ~ ~ = I appears in the matrix Bn. The machining error be-
tween surfaces I and 7 is a summation of the errors of above two
dimensions and becomes
( 15)
Case 3: When the variation of a linear dimension between surfaces 2
and 8 is to be estimated, the search procedure is
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
311
In matrix R"ll * B22, b
28
= b ~ ~ * ~ = 1. Therefore, the linear di-
mension between surfaces 2 and 8 is ensured indirectly by dimen-
sions X
9
-
8
and X
9
-
2
The dimension relationships between surfaces
9 and 8, and 9 and 2 are presented by model 1 because it is found
that b ~ ~ = 1 and b ~ ~ = 1. The machining error between surfaces 2
and 8 is a summation of the errors of the two relevant dimensions,
that is,
(16)
These examples illustrate that the search of linear dimension relation-
ships are implemented by manipulating the B matrices, which can be au-
tomatically conducted through programming. A similar search procedure is
also valid for angular dimensions.
(c) Angular Dimension Relationship Matrix
When the stack-up of angular dimension errors (parallelism, perpendicular-
ity, and angularity) is estimated, the family of angular dimension relationship
matrices C
IJ
can be generated from their corresponding matrices AIJ. The
matrix element crI is determined based on the following rules:
If art = I, cr.t = 0;
otherwise, c:J = I.
C
ll
presents the angular dimension relationship between machining sur-
faces in setup J, and C
2J
presents the angular dimension relationship between
the datum and the machining surface in setup J. Similarly, a third matrix is
defined as C
3J
= (C
2J
)T, for convenience of the relationship search.
The case of stacking-up angular dimensional errors is more complicated
than the case of linear dimensional errors because the angular dimensional
errors are concerned with variations of angular dimensions. Before we can
stack up the angular dimensional errors, we need first to verify if it is mean-
ingful to stack up these angular dimensional errors. Actually, we can only
stack up the angular dimensional errors when their measuring planes are the
same or parallel to each other. Figure 7 shows an example in which surfaces
I and 3 are machined in terms of a datum, surface 2. Although the perpen-
dicularity between surfaces 1 and 2 and surfaces 3 and 2 might be generated
in the machining operation, the relationship between surfaces I and 3 (par-
allelism or perpendicularity) may only be considered when normal directions
of their measuring planes are the same. The measuring plane of two surfaces
(planes or cylinders) can be defined by a normal vector, d
ij
, which is deter-
mined through a cross-product of feature vectors of these two surfaces (nor-
mal vector for planes and vector in axis direction for cylinders), that is,
312
surface 1
/
measuring plane

,----."c.--+--..,
Chapter 9
surface 2 (datum)
measuring plane
Figure 7 Measuring planes for orientational error estimation.
(17)
In the case of Fig. 7, when the relationship between surfaces 1 and 3 is
examined, the cross-product of measuring surface vectors should be consid-
ered as
d = d
l2
X d2J
(18)
Only when the product of two normal vectors of the measuring planes
is zero are the two measuring planes parallel so that the angular dimensional
errors can be stacked up. Therefore, this test becomes a criterion for eval-
uating relationships of geometric dimensions. The search strategy for the
angular dimension relationship between surfaces m and n is the same as the
strategy for the linear dimensional relationship shown in Sect. 9.2.3.a.
The example shown in Fig. 2 can also be used for the angular dimension
relationship analysis. Angular relationship matrices e", e
2l
, e 12, and en are
generated from the basic relationship matrices A", A 21, A 12, and A 22, re-
spectively. The e matrices are shown in Fig. 8. To estimate the variation of
the angular dimension between surfaces 2 and 3, their relationship is first
searched. The search procedure is to find nonzero element representing the
relationship of the two surfaces from the matrices
In the matrix I * en, = c;; * = 1. The verification of the error
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
313
~ I
:1 0
4 0
5 0
6 ()
7 0
I! 0
9 I 0
10
1
0
111 0
12: 0
I 0
2 I
3 0
4 0
5 0
6 0
7 0
g 0
9 0
10 1
11' 0
121 0
() 0
o ()
o 0
o 0
() ()
o ()
o 0
() ()
o ()
() 0
o 0
o 0
:1
o
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
4 ~ 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o
() I
()
() 0
() 0
o 0
o 0
4
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
000 0
o 0 0 0
I 0
() I 0
I 0 I 0
I I 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
6 7 8 9
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
000 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o
o
o
o
o
()
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
o
10 11 12
o 0
o 0
000
000
000
o 0 0
o 0 0
000
o 0 0
0000000000
00000000000
00000000000
1 i 0
2 0
:1 0
4 0
o
6 0
7 0
8 0
9 0
10 0
11 0
12 0
I 0
2 0
3 0
4 0
S I
6 0
1 0
8 0
9 0
o ()
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o Cl
o 0
o 0
o ()
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
1 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
4 5 6 7 g 9 10 11 t2
() ()
o 0
o I
o 0
o 0
o 0
() 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
() 0
4 5
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o 0
o I)
o 0
o 0 0 ()
o 0 0 0
I 1 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
I 0 I 0
o 0 0 0
6 7 8 9
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
000 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
000 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 0
000
o 0 0
000
() 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
~ ~ ~
10 11 12
000
000
000
() () ()
1 0 0
o () 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
o 0 0
10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
11000000000000
12 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0
Figure 8 Angular dimension relationship matrices.
stack-up condition shows d
3
,5 = 0, so that d
3

s
X d
s
,2 = O. Therefore, the
angular dimension between surfaces 2 and 3 is ensured indirectly by angular
dimensions between surfaces 2 and 5 and surfaces 5 and 3. The error rela-
tionship between surfaces 2 and 3 is the summation of angular dimension
errors between surfaces 2 and 5, and surfaces 5 and 3, where the relationship
model 1 is applied twice.
9.2.4 Example of Tolerance Analysis in Setup Planning
Figure 9 shows a workpiece to be machined on a vertical machining center,
where all the major machining surfaces are indexed by numbers and two
accuracy requirements are to be ensured with tolerance specifications and
314 Chapter 9
6
Figure 9 A workpiece to be machined.
design datum. Fixturing plans are made with a CAPP system, which requires
three setups as shown in Fig. 10. The fixturing plans are shown in Table 1.
A common datum (surface I) is employed in setups 2 and 3 to ensure the
linear dimension tolerance between surfaces 1 and 2 and the angular di-
mension (perpendicularity) accuracy requirement between surfaces 2 and 3.
After machining error analysis, the estimated variations of the linear and
angular dimensions are listed in Table 2. If the perpendicularity cannot be
satisfied with the design requirement where machining errors in two setups
are added up, the fixturing plan needs to be modified (i.e., different locating
datum may be selected). Figure I) shows a second fixture plan, where sur-
face 3 is a locating datum in both setups 2 and 3 where surfaces 1 and 2
are machined (see Table I). The results of the machining error analysis is
also listed in Table 2. The comparison of columns 2 and 3 in Table 2 shows
6
6
"'_ -', 4 2 -
6"
Setup 1 Setup 2 Setup 3
Figure 10 First fixturing plan for the workpiece.
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 3/5
Table 1 Machining and Locating Surfaces in Each Setup with Different
Fixturing Plans
First fixturing plan Second fixturing plan
Setup Setup Setup Setup Setup Setup
1 2 3 I 2 3
Machining surface I 2 3 3 2
Primary locating surface 2 1 1 4 3 3
Secondary locating surface 3 3 6 1 6 I
Tertiary locating surface 6 6 4 6 2 6
the improvement in ensuring the perpendicularity requirement (fewer error
terms are involved).
9.3 LOCATING ERROR ANALYSIS
Fixture-design activities include three steps: setup planning, fixture planning,
and fixture configuration design (Rong and Bai, 1995). The objective of the
setup planning is to determine the number of setups needed, the orientation
of workpiece in each setup, and the machining surfaces in each setup. The
setup planning could be a subset of process planning. Fixture planning is to
determine the locating, supporting, and clamping points on workpiece sur-
faces. The task of fixture configuration design is to select fixture elements
and place them into a final configuration to locate and clamp the workpiece.
Locator position errors contribute to the locating accuracy yielding geomet-
ric tolerances in product designs. An analysis of locator position variation
effects provides the information for the selection of locating surface and
points and for fixture-design verifications.
Table 2 Comparison of Machining Errors in Different Fixturing Plans
Variation of linear dimension
between surfaces I and 2
Variation of angular
dimension between
surfaces 2 and 3
First fixturing plan
= ::t
::t ::t
Second fixturing plan
316 Chapter 9
6
Setup I Setup 2 Setup 3
Figure 11 Second fixturing plan for the workpiece.
Fixture design involves locating a workpiece into a proper position and
ensures the position during one or more manufacturing operations. In view
of the kinematics, fixture design is to restrict the six degrees of freedom
(OOFs) of a free-body (workpiece) motion. To ensure the manufacturing
accuracy, fixture design is to select the proper locating surface (datum) as
well as distributions of locating points. For a complete locating design, six
locators (or equivalent) are required to constrain all OOFs of a workpiece.
The 3-2-1 locating method is the most frequently used method for ma-
chining prismatic workpieces, which is shown in Fig. 12 (Hoffman, 1991).
Locators I, 2, and 3 restrict the possible linear motion in the Z direction
and angular motions about X and Y axes. Locators 4 and 5 restrict the linear
17.
/1'- ---+, :1
/ L6 / I
.. /' LS
CO
/ I ex

L2
Figure 12 The 3-2-1 locating principle.
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 317
motion in the X direction and rotation about the Z axis. Finally, locator 6
constrains the motion in the Y direction. Although there may be other lo-
cating methods, they are variations of the 3-2-1 locating principle, where
six locating points are necessary and distributed in different ways. Figure
13 shows examples of the variation. The function of locators in fixture is to
physically provide the workpieces a right location, including the position
and orientation so that the relative relationship between cutting paths (or
positions of cutting tools) and the workpiece can be ensured. When the
positions of the six locators are inaccurate, this relationship may be changed.
Therefore, manufacturing errors may be generated because of the locating
errors.
According to the error source, the manufacturing process error, d
J
" re-
lated to the locating datum can be expressed as
(19)
where d
m
and d
l
are the machining error and locating error, respectively.
These two terms can be divided into a summation of deterministic and
random components, and can be expressed further according to the error
sources as
d
m
= d
md
+ dmr = (d
tw
+ d
mod
) + d
mr
d l = did + d lr = (Awv + dp\') + Air
(20)
where d
md
and did are the deterministic components of d
m
and d" d
mr
and
dlr are the random components of d
m
and d
h
d
tw
is the tool wear and
alignment error, d
mod
represents other deterministic machining errors, d
wv
is
z
Figure 13 Variations of the 3 - 2 -1 locating principle.
318 Chapter 9
the workpiece datum error caused by workpiece size variations, and d
pv
is
the locating point position variation.
The machining errors may be contributed by tool alignment errors and
tool wear, cutting force and thermal deformation during the machining pro-
cess, and the machine table's motion errors. As indicated in Sect. 9.2, the
processing errors were analyzed by considering the dependency relationships
among operational dimensions. There are three kinds of relationships be-
tween machined features or between machined features and locating datum
[i.e., the errors between machining-machining (M-M) surfaces in one
setup, between datum-machining (D-M) surfaces in one setup, and between
M-M or D-M surfaces in multiple setups]. When the locating error effects
are only considered, the error in the first relationship is zero. The complex
relationships in a multiple setup can be decomposed into errors generated
in each individual setup by using DMG analysis presented in Sect. 9.2. The
effects of the imperfect locator position (dpJ and the workpiece size vari-
ation (dwJ which is associated with different locating methods on manufac-
turing accuracy are analyzed to provide information for CAFD and fixture-
design verification.
9.3.1 Effect of Locator Position Error
The locating error effect on manufacturing process accuracy is described as
when the locator positions are inaccurate, the position and orientation of the
workpiece may change. Manufacturing process errors may be generated due
to this change. Because the position change even of a single locator gives
a complex effect on the workpiece position and orientation, the variation of
the workpiece position and orientation due to the locating error is first an-
alyzed in comparison with the ideal situation, which implies the change of
the locating datum. The position change of any relevant point on the ma-
chining surface of the workpiece is then determined. Therefore, the manu-
facturing errors caused by the locating errors can be estimated. The esti-
mation results can be used to verify and improve the fixture design.
(a) Locating Reference Surface Modeling
In order to formulate the change of workpiece position and orientation due
to inaccurate locator positions, three locating reference planes are established
according to the actual positions of the locators. Based on the 3-2-1 lo-
cating principle, three orthogonal planes are established as the locating ref-
erence surfaces. The change of the locators' positions results in the change
of the plane equations. A general plane equation can be expressed as
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 319
Ax + By + Cz + D == 0
(21)
where A, B, and C are direction cosines of the normal vector of the plane,
D is a constant, and x, y, and z are the coordinates of an arbitrary point on
the plane.
The three locating reference planes are expressed as
Primary plane:
Secondary plane:
(22)
Tertiary plane:
When the coordinates of six locating points are known, the three ref-
erence planes can be determined by calculating the direction cosines (i.e.,
A
j
, B
j
, and C
j
, i = 1, 2, 3) and the Dj's. The primary locating plane is defined
by locators Lt, L2, and L3 (see Fig. 12) with their coordinates (Xl> Yl> ZI),
(Xz, Y2> Z2), and (X3' Y3, Z3), respectively. Therefore, its plane equation is
x - XI Y - YI Z - ZI
X2 - Xl Y2 - YI Z2 - Zl == 0
(23)
X3 - Xl Y3 - YI Z3 - ZI
The three locators cannot be placed along a straight l i n ~ otherwise, it
is true that
X3 - Zl = Y3 - YI = Z3 - ZI
X
2
- XI Y2 - YI Z2 - ZI
(24)
which leads to nonunique solutions of Eq. (23). Thus, AI, Bl> Cl> and DI
can be obtained as
(25)
The secondary locating plane is defined by locators L4 and L5 with
320 Chapter 9
their coordinates (X4' Y4, Z4), and (x
s
, Ys, zs), respectively, and perpendicular
to the first plane. The plane equation is
Y 4 - Y S Z4 - Zs = 0
(26)
BI Cl
The two locators cannot be placed along a vertical line relative to the
first plane, otherwise, it becomes true that
(27)
which leads to nonunique solutions of Eq. (26). Therefore, A
2
, B
2
, C
2
, and
D2 can be calculated as
Ao = ! Y4 - Ys
- Cl
Z4 - Z5!
BI '
(28)
C, = !X4 - X4
. BI
Y4 - ys!
AI '
The tertiary locating plane equation can be determined by locator L6
with coordinates (X6' Y6, Z6) and keeps the perpendicular relationships with
the first and second locating planes, that is
(29)
(30)
The position and orientation of the workpiece is determined by the three
reference planes, whereas the planes are determined by the positions of the
six locators. When the positions of the locators deviate from the nominal
positions, these reference planes need to be re-examined.
It should be mentioned that even if the locators L 1, L2, and L3 are not
in the same plane, the primary plane can still be determined according to
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 321
given coordinates (xt. Yt. z\), (X2' Y2. Z2). and (x
3
Y3' Z3). respectively. A
similar situation holds for locators L4 and L5. Details on how to derive
equations to establish the locating reference planes can be found in Li
(1995). If other locating methods are utilized in a fixture design, three cor-
responding locating reference planes can still be established according to
the locating information. For example, if two pins (one round and one di-
amond shaped) are used with locating holes to restrict three DOFs beyond
the three restricted by the locators under the bottom surface of the work-
piece, the locating reference planes are chosen as three orthogonal ones
shown in Fig. 14 where the primary locating plane is determined by the
(a)

(b)
Tertiary
Secondary
................. ::.#> ........................................... .
LIe>
Figure 14 Locating with a round pin and a diamond pin.
322 Chapter 9
positions of the three locators, the secondary locating plane is constructed
to contain the center axes of the two locating pins and perpendicular to the
primary plane, and the tertiary locating plane is the plane perpendicular to
the first two and contains the center axis of the round pin. It is obvious that
the spatial positions of the reference planes are determined by the positions
of locators. Therefore, the plane equations can be built up in the same way
as shown earlier, where X
4
= x
6
, Y4 = Y6, and Z4 = Z6'
(b) Position Variation of a Point on a Workpiece Suiface
The variation of one locator's position may not simply result in a movement
of the workpiece in the direction in which the locator is applied to restrict
the DOF. A slip motion in the other direction may exist due to the effects
of other locators. This variation may cause a complex change of the work-
piece orientation. Therefore, the deviation of a point on the workpiece surface
needs to be defined and identified in terms of the locating reference planes.
An arbitrary point (say, M with coordinates x, y, and z) on a machining
surface of the workpiece can be defined by the distances of the point to the
three locating planes. These distances are constant in the product design.
When the distances are defined by a, b, and c, the following equations are
deduced:
(31 )
where the signs of a, b, and c should be the same as that of the left terms
in Eqs. (31). In matrix form, it can be expressed as
(32)
Thus, the coordinates of M can be resolved according to
(33)
If the inverse matrix exists in Eq. (33), the following determinant cannot
be zero:
Fixturing Accuracy Ana/.vsis and Verification
AI
det = A2
AJ B.1 Cl
323
(34)
By considering the relationships in Eq. (30), the value of Eq. (34)
becomes
Because the primary locating surface is not parallel to the secondary
locating surface, the three terms in Eq. (35) cannot be zero at the same time.
Therefore, Eq. (33) can be used to determine the coordinates of a point
on the workpiece surface in terms of locating reference planes, whereas the
planes are described by the locators' coordinates. When a variation of the
locators' positions is identified, the locating reference planes are re-evalu-
ated. The coordinates of relevant points on the workpiece surface are deter-
mined. Finally, these coordinates are compared with those before the vari-
ation and the geometric error generated in the machining process can be
recognized, which results from the variation of the locators' positions.
(c) Locator Position Error Effects on Geometric Accuracy
Manufacturing errors of the workpiece geometry include dimensional errors,
form errors, orientation errors, position errors, and surface roughness. The
shape errors and surface quality are usually dependent on the tool geometry,
the motion of the machine table, and/or the interaction process of the tool
and workpiece (e.g., tool wear and vibration effects). The locating errors
may affect the dimensional errors, orientation errors such as parallelism,
perpendicularity, angUlarity, and the true position errors. For example, Fig.
15 shows a simple case in which the parallelism error of surface PI and
perpendicularity error of surface P2 are to be examined relevant to the bot-
tom plane which is assumed to be the primary locating plane. Once the
coordinates of vertices on the machining surfaces are calculated in terms of
three locating references in perfect condition planes (i.e., XOY, YOZ, and
XOZ planes) and with locator deviations, the orientation errors due to the
locating inaccuracy can be estimated as follows:
Ell = maxrl(zj - z:) - (Zj - zf)I, i, j = 1, 2, 3, 4; i # j]
El = max[l(xj - x:) - (Xj - xj), i, j = 3, 4, 5, 6; i # j]
(36)
where Ell and E.l denote the parallelism error and perpendicularity error,
respectively; (xj, yj, Zj) and (x;', y;" z;') are the vertex coordinates of ma-
324 Chapter 9
x
Figure 15 Locating error effect on workpiece geometric accuracy.
chining surfaces without and with the position deviation of the locators,
respectively.
Equation (36) gives only a formula to estimate the orientation errors
caused by the inaccurate locator positions in a specific condition. In order
to evaluate the locating error effect, the following procedure can be applied:
1. Establish locating reference planes based on the designed locator
positions.
2. Estimate the locating reference planes with locator position
deviations.
3. Determine the geometric error items to be evaluated, as well as
relevant machining surfaces.
4. Determine the coordinates of the vertices of the machining surfaces
(or end points of the feature axis) before and after the locator de-
viations based on the fact that their distances to the reference planes
are constant.
S. Estimate the geometric errors according to the differences of the
position variations of these points.
When a coordinate system is properly selected, this procedure can be
greatly simplified. Figure 16 shows a block diagram of the procedure of
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 325
Information Input:
V --- workpiece model ~
--- setup planrung
~ 1 CMP
CAD V database
~ s e ~ Setup Information Extraction: t:::
t:' :: --- machining surfaces
--- locating surfaces and
locator coordinates
1
Analysis Requirement Specification:
--- geometric accuracy to be verified
--- locator deviation
1
Locating Reference Plane Establishment:
--- without locator deviation
--- with locator deviation
1
Machining Surface Vertex Coordinate Calculation:
--- without locator deviation
--- with locator deviation
1
Locating Error Effect Analysis:
....,
--- comparison of the coordinates Geometric
--- geometric error synthesis accuracy
1
relationshil
database
....,
Output Report:
......
--- geometric error estimation
--- fixture design
--- significant factors
Figure 16 Block diagram of the locating error effect analysis procedure.
locating error effect analysis. To illustrate this procedure, a virtual part is
taken as an example, which is presented in Fig. 17. Two setups are required
to machine this part. The locating and machining surfaces in the two setups
are shown in Table 3.
In setup 1, the locating error effect on parallelism errors of surfaces P3
and P12 and perpendicUlarity errors of surface P4 are considered relevant
to the locating surface P5. First, a single deviation of each individuallocator
is assumed to see different effect sensitivities to the parallelism and perpen-
326 Chapter 9
I
100
L
I T 2 0 ~
------+7e-- t1 -----f-
)1
~
80 200
~
A-A section
185
300
020
(a) Workpiece drawing
Figure 17 Case study: locating error effect on the manufacturing geometric ac-
curacy.
dicularity. The results are listed in Table 4, where the locator deviations are
assumed to be 0.02 in. (in locating directions) and the geometric errors are
calculated by applying Eq. (36) (the unit is also in inches). The orientation
errors listed in Table 4 are relative to the locating plane (i.e., P5). To evaluate
the parallelism between surfaces P3 and P 12, an error stack-up method can
be applied. It can be seen that the inaccurate locators positions give different
effects on parallelism and perpendicularity errors. The scale-level difference
of the parallelism errors of P3 and P 12 has resulted from the different areas
of the planes. Second, the same test is repeated with different locator co-
ordinates to examine the effect from the locator layout. Table 5 shows four
cases where the locators' coordinates are given in the first column. Finally,
when a uniform tolerance is given to all the locators, the maximum effect
on the parallelism and perpendicularity is estimated and shown in Table 6.
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
327
(b) Setup #1
(c) Setup #2
Figure 17 Continued
328 Chapter 9
Table 3 Setup Planning for the Sample Part
Primary locating surface
Secondary locating surface
Tertiary locating surface
Machining surfaces considered
Setup I
P5
Pl3
PI
P3, P4, Pl2
Setup 2
P3
P2
PI
P7, PlO, HI
In setup 2, the locating error effect on the perpendicularity errors of
surface P7, angularity error of surface PlO, and parallelism errors of hole
HI are considered relevant to the locating surface P3. Table 7 lists the 10-
cators' coordinates and geometric error values under single deviations of
each locator.
It should be noted that the results shown in Tables 4-7 come from a
specific workpiece and specific setup planning. To quantitatively evaluate
the locating error effects, the effective areas of machining surfaces should
be taken into account. The above example shows the method and functions
of locating error effect analysis system. Further studies are undertaken by
applying the system to study the general conclusions of the locating error
effects. This method can be applied to more complex tolerance problems
with mUltiple setups, where the resultant geometric errors are decomposed
into those produced from individual setups. The information from the lo-
cating error effect analysis is valuable and important for locating datum
selection and verification in computer-aided process planning and fixture
designs.
9.3.2 Locating Method Effects
Although there is a variety of fixture-design configurations, the locating
methods are quite limited. Workpiece surfaces which can be used as locating
datum include planes, holes, and external profile surfaces (Rong et al., 1993).
When different locating methods are applied, different combinations of these
surfaces are utilized (Pollack, 1988). For example, in the 3-2-1 locating
method, three plane surfaces (or equivalent) are used as the locating datum,
and one plane and two holes may be used in another locating method. Due
to the variation of the workpiece size or clearance between the workpiece
and fixture locating components, the position of locating datum may vary
in a certain range, which will contribute to the machining errors. The vari-
ation of the locating datum position is defined as a datum - position error,
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 329
Table4 Geometric Errors Due to Individual Deviations of Locator Positions
Locator coordinates Single deviation Ell - P3 El - P4 Ell - Pl2
Ll: 66,66,0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0767 0.0018 0.0606
L2: 66, 134, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0767 0.0018 0.0606
L3 234, 100, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0357 0.0036 0.0036
L4: 40,0,75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L5: 260, 0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 o.
L6: 0, 100, 50 ~ = 0.02 0 0 0
TableS Comparison of Geometric Errors Under Different Locator Layouts
Locator coordinates Single deviation Ell - P3 El - P4 Ell - P12
Case 1
Ll: 66,90,0 ~ z = 0.02 0.2179 0.0018 0.2018
L2: 66, 110, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.2179 0.0018 0.2018
L3: 234, 100, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0357 0.0036 0.0036
L4: 40, 0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L5: 260, 0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L6: 0, 100, 50 ~ = 0.02 0 0 0
Case 2
Ll: 100,66,0 dz = 0.02 0.0888 0.0030 0.0618
L2: 100, 134, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0888 0.0030 0.0618
L3: 200, 100, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0600 0.0060 0.0060
L4: 40,0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L5: 260, 0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L6: 0, 100, 50 ~ = 0.02 0 0 0
Case 3
Ll: 150, 66, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0588 0 0.0588
L2: 100, 134,0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0894 0.0060 0.0354
L3: 200, 134,0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0894 0.0060 0.0354
L4: 40, 0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L5: 260, 0, 75 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0182 0
L6: 0, 100, 50 ~ = 0.02 0 0 0
Case 4
LI: 66,66,0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0767 0.0430 0.0606
L2: 66, 134, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0767 0.0430 0.0606
L3: 234, 100, 0 ~ z = 0.02 0.0357 0.0036 0.0036
L4: 100, 0, 30 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0400 0
L5: 200,0, 100 ~ y = 0.02 0 0.0400 0
L6: 0, 100, 50 ~ = 0.02 0 0 0
330 Chapter 9
Table 6 Geometric Errors Under a Given Uniform Locating Tolerance
Locator coordinates
Ll: 66,66,0
L2: 66, 134, 0
L3: 234, 100,0
L4: 40, 0, 75
L5: 260, 0, 75
L6: 0, lOO, 50
Uniform tolerance
dx = 0.02
dy = 0.02
dz = 0.02
Ell - P3
0.1533 0.0435
Ell - Pl2
0.1212
which is a part of the fixturing locating error (AX
I
or Aal) defined in Sect.
9.2.
(a) Locating Method Effect on Linear Dimensions
If planes are used as the locating datum, the effect of datum - position error
requires a simple expression, and the variation of the locating datum posi-
tions is constant once the fixture is constructed. The variation of workpiece
geometry does not affect the datum position in this case. However, when a
hole is used as a locating datum, the variation of the locating datum position
is determined by the difference between the maximum hole dimension and
the minimum pin dimension, as shown in Fig. 18. The ideal locating datum
is the geometric center of the hole. The maximum variation of the datum is
d
l
= T D + T d + d
min
+ d
pin
(37)
where T D is the hole tolerance of the workpiece, Td is the pin tolerance of
the fixture locating component, Amin is the minimum clearance between the
hole and pin, and Apin is the position error of the locating pin which could
be eliminated through calibration and adjustment during the operation.
Table 7 Geometric Errors Due to Individual Deviations of Locator Positions
Locator coordinates Single deviation
El
- P7 El - PlO Efl - HI
LI: 66,66,0 dz = 0.02 0.0217 0.0166 0.0060
L2: 66, 134,0 dz = 0.02 0.0160 0.0166 0.0060
L3: 234, lOO, 0 dz = 0.02 0.0057 0.0060 0.0119
L4: 40, 0, 75 dy = 0.02 0.0023 0.0079 0
L5: 260,0,75 dy = 0.02 0.0023 0.0079 0
L6: 0, lOO. 50 dx = 0.02 0 0 0
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 33/
Dmax
hole
Figure 18 Datum-position error in the pinhole.
If the workpiece is placed in a vertical orientation, because gravity al-
ways pushes the workpiece contacting the locating pin in one direction, the
variation of the locating datum becomes
A _ TD + Td
1- 2
(38)
The V-block is another typical locating component, where the geometric
center of the cylindrical surface of the workpiece is the desired locating
datum. Figure 19 shows a sketch of the locating datum position with V-
block locating. The maximum variation of the datum can be calculated by
A _ Td
I - 2 sin( 0.12)
(39)
where Td is the tolerance of the workpiece cylinder and ex is the V-block
angle (Fig. 19).
workpiece
a" V-block
Figure 19 Datum-position error in the V-block.
332 Chapter 9
6
2 8
12
6
14
15
r>7
2
14
..
....
4
13
'13
8 12
6 2
selup # 1 selup #2 SCIUP ##3
Figure 20 Example of locating workpieces with pinholes and a plane.
In the estimation of fixturing-related machining errors, the locating
method effects should be included. Figure 20 shows an example of machin-
ing error estimation, where one plane and two holes are used as the locating
datum in setups 2 and 3. The locating datum (plane and holes) is generated
in setup 1. It should be noted that one hole is located by a round pin (fitted
with holes 14 in setup 1 and 15 in setup 2) and the other is located by a
diamond pin.
If the machining error of the dimension between surfaces 4 and 10 is
to be estimated, dimension X
4
-
IO
is determined by the relevant dimensions
X
14
-
4
and X
I5
-
IO
' whereas dimension X
14
-
15
is generated in setup 1. There-
fore, the variation of the dimension between surfaces 10 and 4 becomes
(40)
where and are the model 1 relationships and including the
datum-position errors, is the model 2 relationship and is calculated
by
(41 )
where surface 12 is the locating datum for holes 15 and 14 machined in
setup 1.
In the calculation of and the locating error should be
evaluated by using Eq. (38) because locating holes and pins are used.
(b) Locating Method Effect on Angular Dimensions
When different locating methods are utilized, the variation of the locating
datum position will also affect the parallelism, perpendicularity, or angularity
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification 333
T
Figure 21 Locating error with the plane locating method.
accuracy. In the application of the 3-2-1 locating method where three
planes are used as locating surfaces, the angular errors caused by the locating
datum-position errors is influenced by the variation in heights of the loca-
tors. Figure 21 shows an angular dimension variation in the secondary lo-
cating plane where two locators are used to restrict the rotational degree of
freedom. The angular locating error can be estimated by
(42)
where T I Hand T 2H are the tolerances of the first and second locating pins in
height, respectively, and L is the distance between the two locating pins.
Figure 22 shows the locating errors with another common locating
method where one plane and two holes are used as locating surfaces (a
diamond pin is used with the right hole). Due to the clearances between the
locating pins and the holes (one of the pins is diamond), the angular locating
T 2D+ T
2d

8
:,-__ o,-_. '--. . ____ t
- ' .
- - - - - - - - - -
- - -'. -

L
Figure 22 Locating errors with the two-hole and one-plane locating method.
334 Chapter 9
error caused by the variation of locating datum position can be calculated
as
(43)
where Tw is the diameter tolerance of the workpiece hole fitted with the
round locating pin, Tld is the diameter tolerance of the round pin, a
lmin
is
the minimum clearance between the round pin and the hole, Tm is the di-
ameter tolerance of workpiece hole fitted with the diamond locating pin, T
2d
is the diameter tolerance of the diamond pin, a
2min
is the minimum clearance
between the diamond pin and the hole, and L is the distance between the
two holes.
Figure 23 shows an example of using V-blocks as the primary locating
components. Variations of workpiece diameters will affect the accuracy of
the angular dimension. The deviation of the workpiece central axis from the
desired locating axis can be calculated as
A' 2 -I [I ( T
2d
+ TIt! )]
u::::: tan -
I 4L sin(cx
2
/2) sin(cx, /2)
(44)
where TIt! and T
2d
are the tolerances of the workpiece diameters, and (XI and
(X2 are the V-block angles.
Equations (42), (43), and (44) can be derived from the geometric rela-
tionships shown in Figs. 20, 21, and 22, respectively, where a maximum
variation of the error angle is taken into account. In the example of Fig. 20,
\T
2d Tld
. -. . -
I
~
I
I
iT-
1
I
:
L
Figure 23 Locating errors with the two- V-block locating method.
Fixturing Accuracy Anal)'sis and Verification
335
Eq. (43) should be applied in estimating the fixture locating errors if the
parallelism, perpendicularity, or angularity is required.
9.4 LOCATING ACCURACY VERIFICATION OF
FIXTURE DESIGN
Once a fixture planning is conducted through a CAFD system, the locating
accuracy needs to be verified to ensure the machining quality. Machining
errors are analyzed and decomposed into individual setups according to pro-
cess planning information and DMG analysis. Dimension variations caused
by locating datum variation are estimated based on fixture configuration
design and workpiece geometry where a fixture component database is used
to assess the information of locator position deviations. Machining process
errors reSUlting from vibration, thermal deformation, tool wear, and other
process factors need to be estimated based on a machining process model
and machining process database. The procedure of implementing the locat-
ing accuracy verification is shown in Fig. 24. The input information includes
workpiece geometry, geometric features and tolerances from the part design;
locating method and datum from process planning and fixture design, and
the fixturing tolerances and machining process error estimations from a man-
ufacturing planning database. The system is applied to calculate the rela-
tionships between machining surfaces and locating surfaces, where the ma-
chining error of a specified dimension is decomposed into machining errors
in each individual setup, to calculate fixturing errors through a tolerance
chain analysis, and to synthesize the possible maximum machining errors.
The output of the system is an estimation of maximum machining errors
and their most significant components, which is verified with the part design
requirement.
9.5 SUMMARY
A machining accuracy analysis is presented for fixture design verifications,
where the dependency of resultant dimension variations on the variations of
relevant dimensions are studied, including linear and angular dimensions.
Five basic dimension relationship models of locating datum and machining
surfaces are given to estimate the machining error under different setup
conditions. The locating method effects on the fixturing accuracy analysis
are discussed. A datum-machining surface relationship graph has been de-
veloped to construct a tolerance chain analysis. A matrix representation and
reasoning algorithm is developed to automatically search and evaluate the
336 Chapter 9
Information Input:
--- workpiece modellt-____ Database:
--- setup planning CAD
--- fixture design CAPP
Fixture design
Setup and locating analysis:
--- machining surface in each setup
--- locating surface in each setup
--- datum-machining surface relationships
Machining error decomposition:
--- DMG construction
--- shortest path search
--- synthesis
Locating error effects: Process error effects:
--- locator position deviations --- machining condition evaluation
--- locating reference planes
--- geometric error estimation
Fixture
component
database
Output Report:
--- static and dynamic analysis
--- process error estimation
--- overall machining error estimation
--- fixture design verification
--- significant factors
Machining
processes
database
Figure 24 Implementation procedure for fixturing accuracy verification.
dimension relationships of the datum and machining surfaces. Although this
method is general and may be applied to other tolerance chain analyses, the
general form tolerance as well as their effects on dimensional variations are
not included in this chapter.
An analysis of locating error effects on manufacturing accuracy is also
presented in this chapter. Inaccurate locator positions may cause a change
of the workpiece location and orientation. Therefore, after machining oper-
ations, workpiece geometric errors may be generated, such as parallelism,
perpendicularity, and angularity errors. Based on the locator positions, lo-
cating reference planes are established to determine the workpiece location
and orientation. The coordinates of vertices of machining surfaces (or end
Fixturing Accuracy Analysis and Verification
337
points of a feature axis) are calculated relevant to the locating reference
planes. When locator positions deviate from their accurate positions, the
locating reference planes will change, as well as the vertices of the machin-
ing surface. According to this change, geometric errors due to the inaccurate
locator positions can be estimated. A case study illustrates the procedure
of the analysis. Once the analysis system is integrated with the tolerance
analysis system developed, more complex multiple-setup problems can be
analyzed. The information from the analysis is useful and important in com-
puter-aided process planning and computer-aided fixture design and verifi-
cation.
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10
Fixturing Surface
Accessibility Analysis
Fixturing is an important manufacturing actIvIty in the production cycle.
The computer-aided fixture design (CAFD) technique has been developed
and became part of CAD/CAM integration. CAFD consists of three major
aspects: setup planning, fixture planning, and fixture configuration design.
An automated modular fixture configuration design system has been devel-
oped and applied to industrial practice. This chapter presents a technical
problem involved in the development of automated fixture planning
systems-the accessibility analysis of a fixturing surface on workpiece. The
fixturing surface accessibility should be correctly assessed to reflect the ex-
tent of ease of placing a fixture component in contact with the fixturing
surface. The objective of accessibility analysis is to help the fixture planning
fulfill the optimum selection of fixturing surfaces and points on workpiece.
First, several basic criteria for evaluating the eligibility of a surface being a
preliminary candidate fixturing surface are discussed. Second, by applying
a discretization technique, an accessibility model of fixturing surfaces is
established based on an overall evaluation of the accessibility of discrete
points on the surface. Finally, the implementation issue and an analysis/
design example are presented.
10.1 INTRODUCTION
Fixturing is an important manufacturing actIvIty in the production cycle.
Computer-aided (or automated) fixture design (CAFD) technique has been
developed and become part of CAD/CAM integration (Trappey and Liu,
341
342 Chapter 10
1990). The development of CAFD contributes to the reduction of manufac-
turing lead time, optimization of manufacturing operations, and verification
of manufacturing process designs (Rong et aI., 1977). CAFD plays an im-
portant role in flexible manufacturing system (FMS) and computer-integrated
manufacturing system (CIMS) (Thompson and Gandhi, 1986).
As mentioned in Chapter 6, the activities of fixture design in manufac-
turing systems basically include three major aspects: setup planning, fixture
planning, and fixture configuration design (Rong and Bai, 1997a). The ob-
jective of setup planning is to determine the number of setups needed, the
position and orientation of workpiece in each setup, and the machining sur-
faces in each setup. Fixture planning is used to determine the locating, sup-
porting, and clamping points on workpiece surfaces. The tasks of fixture
configuration design is to select fixture components and place them into a
final configuration to fulfill the functions of locating and clamping the work-
piece. An automated modular-fixture configuration design system has been
developed where when fixturing surfaces and points are selected on the
workpiece model, fixture units are automatically generated and placed into
position with the assistant of fixture component assembly relationship (Rong
and Bai, 1997; Bai and Rong, 1998). In the development of automated
fixture planning, it is desired that the fixturing surfaces and positions on
workpiece be selected automatically. Several factors which attribute influ-
ences on fixture planning should be taken into consideration; that is, work-
piece geometric information and operational information need to be ex-
tracted and retrieved, accuracy relationships and surface accessibility of
workpiece need to be analyzed, fixturing stability and ease of the workpiece
loading/unloading operation need to be verified. In this chapter, the research
focus is on resolving the problem of fixturing surface accessibility analysis.
Very few relative literature can be found. For the workpiece loading/
unloading operation with respect to the verification of fixture design, an
analytic method was introduced to check the accessibility of the workpiece
to the fixture as well as the detachability of workpiece from the fixture
(Asada and By, 1985). A representation of a surface nonobstructive angle
was applied to evaluate the fixturing surface accessibility, which was limited
to a simple case of workpiece geometry (Chou, 1993). The accessibility was
considered in the workpiece fixturability analysis by a match to predefined
tables (Ong and Nee, 1995). In the areas of automated coordinate measuring
machine (CMM) path planning and tool path planning, some similar work
can be found. A local accessibility analysis of a given surface was made by
appropriate CMM abstractions, three-dimensional (3-0) collision detection,
and heuristic modifications of reasonably assumed default inspection paths
(Yau and Menq, 1995). Both the local accessibility cone and the global
accessibility cone were considered in CMM-path generation (Lim and Menq.
Fixturing Swface Accessibility Analysis 343
1994). An approach that reduced the accessibility problem of five-axis nu-
merical control (NC) programming was explored by applying a flat end tool
to a three-axis accessibility problem (Elber, 1994).
Fixturing accessibility includes two aspects, fixturing surface accessi-
bility and workpiece loading/unloading accessibility. The former is an eval-
uation of the extent of ease with a surface is approached in fixture design
(i.e., how easy to place a fixture component (locator or clamp) in contact
with the surface), which is a very important criterion in the selection of
fixturing surface. The latter is related to the verification of how easy a work-
piece is loaded into a fixture and unloaded from a fixture when the fixture
is designed and constructed. To date, there is not a comprehensive fixturing
accessibility analysis method to be found in the literature. In this chapter,
an approach which can precisely assess the fixturing surface accessibility is
studied; it is limited to plane surfaces which are most widely used as fix-
turing surfaces. In section 10.2, several basic requirements on fixturing sur-
face are discussed. In Sect. 10.3, a comprehensive analysis of fixturing sur-
face accessibility is presented, where a discretization modeling method is
developed to assess the overall and distributing accessibility properties of
fixturing surface. Finally, the implementation issue and an analysis/design
example are presented.
10.2 BASIC REQUIREMENTS ON FIXTURING SURFACES
Fixturing surfaces are the surfaces on workpiece used to locate and clamp
the workpiece where functional fixture components (locators and clamps)
are in contact with these surfaces. As the focus of this research is on ana-
lyzing the accessibility of the fixturing surface on the workpiece, first the
study is started with the discussion on the basic requirements for a surface
on workpiece to be eligible as a preliminary candidate fixturing surface. In
automated fixture planning, once the primary locating direction is deter-
mined in setup planning, the accessibility property of each candidate fixtur-
ing surface should be assessed so as to help the fixture planning fulfill the
optimum selection of fixturing surfaces and point distributions. In this re-
search, the accessibility analysis is investigated briefly on the basis of pure
geometric information of the workpiece and its surfaces, which can be ex-
tracted from the CAD solid model. Other information such as surface finish
and tolerance are excluded from concern because they are the factors con-
sidered in the accuracy analysis of fixture planning.
On a complex workpiece, some surfaces might obviously be ineligible
as candidate fixturing surfaces and should be filtered out first. In our current
research, only the surfaces which satisfy the following basic requirements
344 Chapter 10
can be selected as preliminary candidate fixture surfaces [i.e., (I) nonma-
chining surfaces, (2) planar surfaces, (3) surfaces with accessible normal
directions, and (4) surfaces which are large enough]. The main purpose of
identifying these requirements is to filter out those obviously ineligible sur-
faces on the workpiece and assume all remaining surfaces as preliminary
candidate fixturing surfaces.
Nonmachining surfaces. In a real fixture design, it is well known that
the surfaces to be machined at one setup should not be used as
fixturing surfaces and, hence, are definitely inaccessible to any fix-
ture component. Therefore, a candidate fixturing surface must be a
nonmachining surface.
Planar surfaces. The fixturing surface types are commonly divided
into the planar surface type and the cylindrical surface type. How-
ever, the accessibility analysis approach developed in this research
is limited to planar surfaces on workpiece, although the method pre-
sented in this chapter may be applicable to cylindrical surfaces. In
many cases, planar surfaces are selected as fixturing surfaces with
high priority in fixture design.
Surfaces with accessible normal direction. In most fixtures, the pri-
mary locating surface is perpendicular to other locating surfaces,
which can be defined as the bottom-locating and side-locating forms,
and the common clamping forms are top clamping and side clamp-
ing. This assumption is especially true when modular fixtures are em-
ployed in production. For these locating and clamping forms, a con-
straint is valid that the side-locating direction DSL and side-clamping
direction Dsc are perpendicular to the bottom-locating direction D
BL
,
and the top-clamping direction D
TC
is negative to the bottom-locating
direction (i.e., as shown in Fig. 1, DSL -.l D
BI
_, Dsc -.l D
BL
, and DT(" =
- DB!. D
BL
; OS!.> D
TC
, and Dsc are all normalized vectors and could
be regarded as the accessible directions in one setup). Generally, DBI.
is always set equal to the primary locating direction obtained from
setup planning. Unlike curved surfaces, a planar surface on work-
piece has a unique normal direction, which is written as Os. If Os is
not coincident with any accessible directions mentioned earlier, the
surface is regarded as inaccessible to fixture components and ineli-
gible as the candidate fixturing surface. In other words, the fixturing
surface should have an accessible normal direction.
Surfaces that are large enough. It is a common sense in fixture design
that the surfaces with too small size or a too slim a shape are also
ineligible as candidate fixturing surfaces. To roughly determine
whether the size of a surface is large enough for fixturing, a simple
Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis 345
Figure 1 Accessible directions with relation of DSL -.l D
BL
Dsc -.l D
sL
and DTc =
-D
BL

rule can be applied. The rule states that a surface is eligible in size
if the smaller edge length of its bounding rectangle is larger than the
threshold length Ir. The value of Ir is set based on the sizes of fixture
components used in the fixture design, which can be specified and
modified by the user.
After filtering out apparently ineligible surfaces according to the above
requirements, the remaining surfaces on the workpiece can be regarded as
the preliminary candidates of fixturing surface and their accessibility prop-
erties needs to be evaluated.
10.3 ACCESSIBILITY ANALYSIS
Fixturing surface accessibility is a vague concept associated with the fixture
components used in fixture design. To determine whether a candidate fix-
turing surface of a workpiece is accessible to a regular fixture component
and to figure out a numerical value to represent the corresponding accessible
extent, the following three major factors should be taken into account:
A. Geometry of the fixturing surface that contains the information of
surface area and shape
B. Possible obstructive workpiece geometry along the normal direction
of the fixturing surface or around the geometric region of the fix-
turing surface
C. The size and shape of the functional fixture components
Factor A merely refers to the geometric representation of the fixturing
surface. In a feasible fixture design, the selected fixturing points usually
346 Chapter 10
locate inside the region of the fixturing surface and the contact area between
this region and the fixture component should be over half of the area of the
relevant functional surface of the fixture component. In fact, the accessibility
analysis result should reflect the real effective accessible area of the fixturing
surface, especially when there exists obstructive workpiece geometry along
the normal direction of the fixturing surface or around the geometric region
of the fixturing surface.
Factor B also greatly affects the actual accessibility of the fixturing
surface because possible obstructive workpiece geometry along the normal
direction of the fixturing surface or around the geometric region of the fix-
turing surface may block the approach of the fixture component to the fix-
turing surface in some subareas of surface region and, hence, lead to a
decrease of the effective accessible area. For a workpiece as shown in Fig.
2, even though the face F I is large enough in size and not complex in shape,
its accessibility to a regular fixture component is reduced substantially be-
cause of the inherent obstructive geometry of the workpiece.
It is obvious that the accessibility analysis cannot be made without con-
sidering the functional sizes and features of the fixture components. To ob-
tain a more accurate evaluation of accessibility to guide the later fixture
configuration design, factor C must be involved into the comprehensive anal-
ysis. Under the real circumstances, however, before the fixture configuration
design is finished, the fixture component selected from the library is un-
known at the stage of fixture planning. To circumvent this problem, a least
accessing unit size, T, is applied to represent the minimum functional sizes
of the fixture components, which can be specified and modified by the user.
It implies that if a fixturing surface is accessible, at least a fixture component
with the functional sizes of T X T can be placed in contact with the surface.
To establish the accessibility model for a fixturing surface, several basic
facts of evaluating the property of the accessibility are considered:
Figure 2 A workpiece example.
Fixturing Surface Accessibility AnaL.vsis 347
1. With the same shape and no obstruction along/around the surface
by the workpiece, the surface with the larger area will have a higher
accessibility value.
2. With the same area and no obstruction, the surface with simple
shape complexity will have a higher accessibility value.
3. With the same area and same shape, the surface with less obstruc-
tion along or around it will have a higher accessibility value.
In practical situations, it is very possible that the planar surface of the
workpiece has a complex shape and fully/partially obstruction along its nor-
mal direction or around its geometric region. Thus, it is required that the
accessibility model should comprehensively reflect the above facts so that a
reasonably comparable accessibility value can be applied to every candidate
surface on the workpiece no matter how complex the geometry of the surface
might be.
A discretization modeling method is preferred because it is generic in
principle and the algorithm is easy to implement on computer. The meth-
odology is made up of three steps: (1) The surface is sampled into a set of
discrete points; (2) both individual and neighbor-related accessibility of each
sample point is assessed; (3) the overall accessibility of the surface is eval-
uated based on the results of all sample points.
10.3.1 Surface Discretization
As the accessibility analysis is prior to the fixture planning, the accessibility
model between an arbitrary planar surface and fixture component surface is
difficult to establish if the fixturing point is undetermined. Before the final
position of the workpiece on the baseplate is settled, the possible candidate
fixturing points on a planar surface may be enormous in number and hard
to handle by a continuous model. Thus, in our approach, the surface is
sampled into grid-arrayed discrete points with an equal interval length T. In
order to make the sampling algorithm generic, the outer-bounding rectangle
of the surface is used as the sampling region instead of the surface region
itself. If T is small enough, the discrete sample points will be close to
continuous and the accessibility should reach its true value. However, the
computation expense may be significant, which is approximately inversely
proportional to T2. Furthermore, the memory requirement is incredibly large
if T becomes too small. When a certain set of fixture components are used
in the fixture design, T can be reasonably selected in terms of the smallest
functional surface size of fixture components.
The outer-bounding rectangle of a planar surface can succinctly provide
the geometric information of the exterior shape limitations and is very help-
348 Chapter 10
ful for restraining the sampling region and enabling the sampling algorithm
to be more generic. The rule for extracting the outer-bounding rectangle is
very simple. For a bottom-locating/top-clamping surface with normal direc-
tion Os identical/negative to 0BU two edges of the outer-bounding rectangle
must be parallel to the X axis and two other edges parallel to the Y axis
because the bottom-locating direction OBL is identical to the negative vector
of the Z axis in the workpiece coordinate system, as illustrated in Fig. 3a.
For a side-locating/clamping surface where Os 1.. OaL, there must be two
edges parallel to the Z axis, and the other two edges should be parallel to
the cross-product of Os and 0SL, as shown in Fig. 3b. In such a way, the
surface can be sampled into a set of discrete points within the outer-bounding
rectangle, as shown in Fig. 4. Some points are sampled outside the outer-
bounding rectangle. In this approach, these points are not exorbitant because
they may be useful in checking the possible obstructions around the fixturing
surface.
(a)
For the sampling on a bottom-Iocating/top-clamping surface, we have
x(pJ =
y(p,) =
{
-[in! ( -x(P.) T+ O.5T) + I] T. x(P.) < 0
[in! (X(P.) ; O.5T) _ I] T. x(P.) '" 0
(I)
{
-[in! (-Y(P.) T+ O.5T) + I] T. Y(P.) < 0
[in! (Y(P.) ; O.5T) - I] T. Y(P.) '" 0
(2)
outer-bounding rectangle
no
\
/' / //
Bl
" ~ ~ /
a fi, xfiBL
~ ?
J \
IJ/ fiBL
fixturing surface
outer-bounding rectangle fixturing surface (b)
Figure 3 Extraction of outer-bounding rectangle. (a) Os is identical/negative to D
Ul
.
and (b) Os 1- D
BL

Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis 349
x,u
z. v
o I 0 0 'I
outer-bounding rectangle I
fixturing 0 0 _\ : 0:
/
0' '" 0 I
/
n.
( 0
n
o (' "
I
P 0 0 0
\ ---
I
P
a
- I
8 \1 I
0 0 t nuo 0
I 0 I -1'
__ u
0
I
I
.P cJ:-
P. _?' f ____ '\ .. _____ :1
(a) outer-bounding rectangle fixturing surface
, nu (b)
Figure 4 Sampling of virtual fixturing points. (a) Sampling on bottom-locating/
top-clamping surface; (b) sampling on side-locating/clamping surface. 0 represents
the virtual sample point. Pa is the bottom-left end point of the outer-bounding rec-
tangle and Pb is the upper-right end point. ps is the most bottom-left virtual sample
point. Du is the number of sample points in each row and Dv is the number in each
column. (u, v) can be used to represent the discrete position of a sample point.
Z(Ps) = z(Pa) = Z(Pb) (3)
_. (Y(Po) - Y(PJ) + 1
nv - lOt T
(4)
Y(Pu.v) = Y(Ps) + Tv, Z(Pu.J = z(pJ (5)
For the sampling on a side-locating/clamping surface, we have
ps = Pa - O.5Tu - O.5Tv
(6)
. t (V[X(Pb) - x(Ps)f + [Y(Pb) - y(pJf)
nu = m T + 1
_ . t (Z(Pb) - Z(Ps) +
nv - m T
(7)
pu.v = Ps + uTu + vTv (8)
10.3.2 Point Accessibility of Sample Fixturing Point
In our model, the surface accessibility is a statistical value based on the
point accessibility (PA) of every valid sample point. The PA consists of two
350
Chapter 10
extraction of outer-loop
Figure 5 The definition of outer loop.
parts: the point self individual accessibility (SIA) and the point neighbor-
related accessibility (NRA). The SIA corresponds primarily to the isolated
accessibility of the fixturing point, whereas the NRA reflects the extended
accessibility of the fixturing point. A sample point can be regarded valid if
it is tested to be at least not inaccessible to a fixture component with a
functional surface size T X T. The definitions and calculation methods of
SIA and NRA are given below.
(a) Self Individual Accessibility
The SIA of a virtual sample point is defined on the basis of three attribute
tags which are denoted by s" representing the position status of a sample
point on the surface, S2' representing the obstruction status of the surface in
the normal direction at the sample point, and Sh representing the contact
area matching extent in the T X T area.
The tag s, is used to indicate whether the square test grid with a center
at the current sample point is inside the outer loop of the fixturing surface,
on it, or outside it. Here, the concept of outer loop of the fixturing surface
is introduced and its definition is shown in Fig. 5. Three discrete values are
assigned to represent its status. Figure 6 illustrates their geometric meanings
r ~ / ~ e point
~ L "l"M' '''' grid
- - ~ - - - Cl
Figure 6 Geometric explanations of three different values of SI.
Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis 351
Table 1 Values and Explanations of SI
o 2
Inside outerloop On outerloop Outside outerloop
and Table gives their detailed values and corresponding literal
explanations.
If there exists an obstructive workpiece geometry along the accessible
direction of a sample point or surrounding the vicinity of the sample point,
it definitely affects the surface accessibility at this sample point. For ex-
ample, as shown in Fig. 7, it is evident that on a candidate bottom-locating
surface of a workpiece, sample point PI is obviously not accessible to a
fixture locator because of the inherent obstructive geometry of the workpiece
along the bottom-locating direction; P2 is also not accessible because of the
obstruction surrounding it. To the contrary, P3 seems accessible to fixture
components because it has enough free surrounding space. To check whether
the square test grid at a sample point is obstructed along its accessible di-
rection by the workpiece, the technique for detecting the interference be-
tween two solid entities can be employed. So far, in most commercial CAD
software packages such as ProlE, Unigrapgics, AutoCAD, and Solidworks,
such a function is provided to detect interference. To automatically evaluate
if such an obstruction exists, a virtual volume is generated by extruding the
square test grid to a solid entity in the proper directions and dimensions.
For the bottom-locating surface as shown in Fig. 7, at sample points like Pt,
P:!, and P3, the extruding direction is identical to the bottom-locating direction
and the extruding height is set equal to the height of the surface on the
workpiece. It varies a little in the extruding method for the square test grid
on the side-locating/clamping surface. In Fig. 8, at sample points like Pt and
P2' the square test grid is first stretched along the bottom-locating direction
and then the stretched grid is extruded along the side-locating/clamping di-
rection so that a solid entity is formed with dimensions as illustrated in Fig.
8b. It should be mentioned that the extruding dimensions are determined
based on the fixture systems used and can be modified by the user.
The attribute tag S2 is addressed in our approach for carrying the result
of obstruction checking at a sample point. Its possible values and corre-
sponding explanations are given in Table 2.
If the test grid at the sample point is tested not obstructed, its individual
accessibility is largely dependent on the contact area extent between the test
352 Chapter 10
square test grid
candidate bottom-locating surface
workpiece
(a)
H
H
(b)
Figure 7 Obstruction checking at virtual sample points on a bottom-locating sur-
face (@ Pi means that the extrusion is done at point Pi along its accessible direction.)
surface and fixture components. This factor is represented by the attribute
tag S3' The definition of S3 can be expressed as
Area(
S 3 = ~
S3 E [0, 1] (9)
where Area
r
means the contact area and T is the edge length of the test grid.
In Fig. 9, the contact area, Area
r
, is the shaded area.
On the basis of above three attribute tags, the SIA of a sample point Pu.v
can reach a numerical value according to the following rules:
Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis 353
(a)
candidate side-locatinglclamping surface
square test grid
workpiece
(b)
H
T
Figure 8 Obstruction checking at virtual sample points on a side-locating/clamp-
ing surface.
Table 2 Values and Explanations of Sz
o
Not obstructed Obstructed
354 Chapter 10
sample point
Area [
Figure 9 Illustration of the contact area.
If SI = outside outerloop, SIA = - 1 (inaccessible).
If s, #- outside outerloop AND S2 = obstructed, SIA = -1 (inaccessible).
If bottom-locating/top-clamping AND s, #- outside outerloop AND S2 =
not obstructed, SIA =
If side-locating/clamping AND s, #- outside outerloop AND S2 = not
obstructed, SIA =
v reflects the height effect of the point in the side locating/clamping.
Furthermore, the sample point can be regarded as a valid point if its
SIA is tested not inaccessible.
(b) Neighbor-Related Accessibility
The accessibility in the surrounding area of the point is also affecting the
accessibility of the point. The concept of neighbor-related accessibility
(NRA) is introduced. For a sample point which is tested valid, the accessi-
bility information of its neighbor sample points contributes to the decision
of whether it is accessible to fixture components. On a fixturing surface, the
position relation between current valid sample point and all its neighbor
sample points can be represented by a 3 X 3 map as shown in Fig. 10 where
is the current interested sample point with a discrete position (u, v), P,-
P
x
are eight neighbor sample points of PC' and their locations are labeled in
Fig. 10. Each grid in the 3 X 3 map is coincident with the square test grid
at the corresponding sample point.
The NRA at sample point pu,v can be calculated using
K
NRA(u, v) = ! L F
k
,
8 k=l
(10)
where Fk is the related-access factor of the kth neighbor, which can be
determined based on the SIA as well as its measure (s" S2, s).
Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis 355
P.t ~ ~
0 0 0
(u -1, v + 1) (u, v + 1) (u + 1, v + 1)
Ps ~ ~
0
0 0
(u -1, v) (u, v) (u+ 1, v)
~
P7 Pg
0 0 0
(u -1, v-l) (u, v-I) (u + 1, v-I)
Figure 10 A 3 x 3 position map of current valid point Pc and its eight neighbor
sample points P,-P
x

For bottom locating/top clamping,
1
-1, S2(Pk) = 1
F ~ = 0, Sl(iJk) = 2 and S2(iJk) = 0
SIA(Pk), s, (iJk) "# 2 and SZ(Pk) = 0
1
F ~ k=1,3,5,7
Fk = F ~ , k = 2, 4, 6, 8, F ~ _ , ~ 0 and F ~ + , ~ 0
-I, k = 2, 4, 6, 8, F ~ _ , = -I or F ~ + , =-}
For side locating/clamping,
1
F ~ k=I,3,5,6,7,8
Fk = F ~ , k = 2, 4, F ~ ~ 0
-0.5, k = 2, 4, F ~ = -0.5
(11)
(12)
(13)
(14)
Therefore, the NRA can be calculated by applying Eq. (10), which is
356 Chapter 10
an accessibility measure in the surrounding area of a sample point, and is
especially useful in the fixturing surface accessibility evaluation concerning
the surface shape complexity.
(c) Calculation of Point Accessibility
For a valid sample point, once the SIA and NRA are obtained, the PA can
also be calculated according to the equation
PA = SIA + NRA (15)
if PA < 0, then PA = 0. From the definitions of SIA and NRA, it can be
found that SIA is in the range 0-1 and NRA is in the range -I-I. There-
fore, according to Eq. (15), PA must be in the range 0-2. It should be
explained that when the value of SIA + NRA is less than 0, it means the
sample point has severely obstructive surrounding geometry of the work-
piece along the accessible direction and, of course, is not a feasible fixturing
point even though it is still regarded as valid. To avoid a negative value, if
SIA + NRA is calculated to be negative, the PA is set to 0, which indicates
that the sample point is hardly accessible to the fixturing element. In prac-
tical applications, with the help of PA, the fixture planning is able to choose
the fixturing points on the fixturing surface more optimally and precisely.
10.3.3 Overall Accessibility of Fixturing Surface
The accessibility modeling is also aimed at acquiring an overall accessibility
of the fixturing surface. In the model, the surface overall accessibility (OA)
is defined as the sum of PA values at all valid sample points; that is,
OA = 2: PAu v
(16)
N\lalttl
The sample point Pu.v is tested valid.
As the OA is statistically measured by an overall effect of the accessi-
bility of the sample points on the surface, it is able to reflect the effective
area and shape complexity of the surface, about which are the accessibility
is concerned. Generally, the model satisfies the criterion that the surface
Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis
357
with the larger OA is more accessible than that with a smaller OA. With the
accurate estimation of the OA, fixture planning can be conducted effectively
by selecting suitable candidate fixturing surfaces.
Even though most ineligible surfaces can be coarsely filtered out before
starting the accessibility analysis, there may be some surfaces left that can
be further determined ineligible after doing SIA analysis. Therefore, check-
ing the validity of candidate fixturing surfaces is a necessary step for the
module of the accessibility analysis to provide an effective result for fixture
planning. A candidate surface is regarded valid if there is at least one valid
sample point on it (i.e., Nvalidpoint 1). The OA is only available on valid
surfaces. On the other hand, all invalid surfaces are given inaccessible tags
so that they are not required to obtain the value of OA.
Finally, the accessibility results of all valid candidate fixturing surfaces
should be outputted for the next module of fixture planning.
10.4 IMPLEMENTATION AND EXAMPLES
10.4.1 Implementation
To illustrate the method of fixturing surface accessibility analysis, a proto-
type system is developed and implemented under the AutoCAD R14 plat-
form with the assistance of the ARX2.0 C+ + development kit. In Fig. 11,
an overall diagram of the accessibility analysis module is presented. In the
algorithm, every surface is indexed by a Face-id, which can be an integer
or string value. Usually, the Face-id can be extracted from the CAD solid
model.
10.4.2 Example
Figure 12 shows a virtual workpiece example on which the step face F46
is to be machined. After the setup planning, the primary locating direction
is set to be the vector (0, 0, -I) which is negative to the Z axis. The fixture
system employed is the Bluco modular fixture system. Therefore, the surface
discretization dimension T is chosen as 30 mm. The threshold dimension h
for filtering out ineligible surfaces is chosen as 12 mm.
After filtering out some obviously ineligible surfaces, all remaining sur-
faces are regarded as preliminary candidate surfaces which are listed in Fig.
12b by their Face-ids. For these candidate surfaces, their accessibility values
can be obtained by using the approach presented in this chapter. Table 3
shows the results of the accessibility analysis for each candidate fixturing
358

I
" -- Workpiece CAD solid model
-- Primary locating direction
\ -- fixture system to be used
I
( -- Filter out
candidate fixturing sw-faces
I -- Get dimension L of least accessing
unit from database
-
-- Implement accessibility analysis on each candidate surface
For a candidate surface Fk
-- Sample virtual fixturing points on surface FA;
-- Calculate Self Individual Accessibility SIA at each sample point
-- Check out validity of each sample point
-- Calculate Neighbor Related Accessibility NRA at each valid
sample point
-- Calculate Point Accessibility PA at each valid sample point
-- Check out validity of candidate surface FA:
............................
------ ..
:
' -- OA of each valid candidate surface
-- P A distribution map of each valid
candidate surface
Figure 11 A diagram of the accessibility module.
Chapter /0
Input
Pre-processing
Analysis
Output
surface. By referring to the workpiece, it is seen that the results are very
rational (e.g., for the side-locating/clamping function, even though the area
of Fl is larger than that of FI7, OA
F1
is respectively less than OA
FI2
, which
is just coincident with the fact that Fl has a large obstructive surrounding
geometry and F12 does not).
Besides OA, for a candidate surface, the value of PA at every sample
point can also be outputted to guide the selection of fixturing points. In Fig.
13, a bottom-locating candidate surface F23 is selected as an example sur-
face to output PA values at sample points. On F23, surrounding obstructions
exist adjacent to two small inner circle loops which correspond to two small
protruding cylinders on the workpiece. From the results shown in Fig. 13b,
it can be seen that PA
4A
and PA
S
.
2
are both equal to zero because of the
obstructive geometry. Thus, the sample points P4.4 and P5.2 and their vicinities
are inaccessible. Moreover, by comparing the results among other sample
Fixturing Surface Accessibility Analysis
152.4
(a)
/
F36/
'y/ //



/ !
I
I

I "
I
359
Figure 12 A virtual workpiece for fixture planning: (a) 2-D views of the virtual
workpiece (unit: mm); (b) all candidate surfaces labeled by Face-ids.

Q- (q) dOl Q-Z (B) )0 (BUY "l. 9Jn6!:f
(q)
(;}
Q Q
Q
Q
Q
Q

Cl
Q
(;}
Q
Q
Q
Q
Q
(;}

Q
0
Q o c
Q
Q Q
o
q
Q
o
Cl
0
Q
0
Q
Q
Q
Cl
Q
(;}
Q
Q
Q
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0 0 0 0
1
(B)
0 0
0 0 0
0 0
0
0
0 0 0 0 0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0
a a 0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0
0
a 0
0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0
a 0 a 0
0
0 0 0
0 0 a 0 a 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
0
0
0
0
0
0 0 0 0
0
0
0 0
0
0
0
a 0 0
0
0 0 0
0
0
0
0 0 0
0
19[
S!S.{/VUV .{Jmq!SS(},),)V (}.)VJms 8U!.JnIX!d
362 Chapter /0
points, it can be proved that the PA value basically reflects the variation of
accessibility at each different sample point.
Based on the result of accessibility analysis, the consecutive modules
of fixture planning and configuration design could achieve the final fixture
design, as shown in Fig. 14.
10.5 CONCLUSION
Fixturing surface accessibility analysis is an important issue in automated
fixture planning. In this chapter, the basic requirements of fixturing surfaces
are discussed. The accessibility model of fixturing surface is established
based on the discretization modeling technique which enables the algorithm
to be more generic and easy to implement on the computer. The accessibility
of a fixturing surface is evaluated by considering the overall effects of the
accessibility of each point on the surface where the self individual accessi-
bility and the neighbor-related accessibility are included. Application of the
accessibility analysis could help the fixture planning fulfill the optimum
selection of fixturing surfaces and points on workpiece. In our later work.
this methodology will be extended to other kinds of surface other than planar
surface.
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Chou, Y. C. (1993), "Automated Fixture Design for Concurrent Manufacturing Plan-
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229.
Elber, G. (1994), "Accessibility in 5-axis Milling Environment," Computer-aided
Design, Vol. 26, No. 11, pp. 796-202.
Lim, C. P., and C. H. Menq (1994), "CMM Feature Accessibility and Path Gener-
ation," International Journal of Production Research, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 597-
618.
Ong, S. K., and A. Y. C. Nee (1995), "A Systematic Approach for Analysing the
Fixturability of Parts for Machining," ASME WAM, pp. 747-761.
Rong, y', and Y. Bai (1997), "Automated Generation of Modular Fixture Configu-
ration Design," ASME Transaction: Journal of Manufacturing Science and
Engineering, Vol. 119, pp. 208-219.
Fixturing Suiface Accessibility Analysis 363
Rong, Y, X. Liu, J. Zhou, and A. Wen (1997), "Computer-aided Setup Planning
and Fixture Design," International Journal of Intelligent Automation and Soft
Computing, Vol. 3, No. 3, pp. 191-206.
Thompson, B. S., and M. V. Gandhi (1986), "Commentary on Flexible Fixturing,"
Applied Mechanics Review, Vol. 39, No. 9, pp. 1365-1369.
Trappey, A. 1. c., and C. R. Liu (1990), "A Literature Survey of Fixture-Design
Automation," International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Techllology,
Vo!. 5, No. 3, pp. 240-255.
Yau, H. T., and C. H. Menq (1995), "Automated CMM Path Planning for Dimen-
sional Inspection of Dies and MoIds Having Complex Surfaces," International
Journal of Machine Tools and Manufacturing, Vol. 35, No. 6, pp. 861-876.
11
Fixturing Stiffness
and Clalllping
Stability Verification
Flexible fixturing is an important issue in flexible manufacturing systems
(FMS) and computer-integrated manufacturing systems (CIMS). Modular
fixtures are the most widely used flexible fixtures in industry. Computer-
aided modular-fixture design (CAMFD) has been studied (Thompson and
Gandhi, 1986). Once a fixture is designed using the CAMFD technique, its
performance needs to be evaluated to verify the quality (feasibility and op-
timality) of the fixture design. Fixturing performance may include a locating
accuracy for ensuring the tolerance requirement, fixturing stability for se-
curing the locating accuracy during the machining process, fixturing stiffness
to resist fixture component deformations, tool-path interference-free, and
convenience for design and construction (Rong et aI., 1994a). In previous
research, the possible interference of the tool and fixture components was
graphically checked through a user-computer interface (Berry, 1982), the
force equilibrium between cutting and clamping forces were verified for
securing the workpiece in the correct position (Trappey and Liu, 1989), the
locating rigidity was considered for optimizing the support positions (Chou
et aI., 1989), and fixture component deformation was studied (Zhu et al..
1993).
Fixturing stability includes clamping stability and machining stability.
The former is static and related to the determination of locating and clamp-
ing positions and directions. The latter is the stability during the machining
process and is concerned with the determination of clamping-force ampli-
tudes. The purpose of the research is to verify the clamping stability of a
fixture design automatically (Rong et aI., 1994b). The clamping stability can
be described as the security of the locating under the action of clamping
364
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability 365
forces, or the equilibrium between clamping forces and locating responses.
In CAMFD, the clamping stability should be automatically verified so that
the dependence of human experience and involvement can be relaxed. In
this chapter, our preliminary research on fixturing stiffness and clamping
stability is introduced.
11.1 FIXTURING STIFFNESS
Because there are many T-slots (T-slot-based modular-fixture systems) or
holes (dowel-pin-based modular-fixture systems) in the body of fixture com-
ponents, the stiffness of fixture structure for a specific configuration is weak-
ened. When a workpiece is located in a fixture, there are machining and
other external forces acting on it, which causes deformations of fixture struc-
ture and leads to a deviation of locator positions. The deformation of fixture
components as well as their connections may make significant contributions
to the machining inaccuracy of manufactured parts and the dynamic stability
of machining systems, which may become one major limitation of modular-
fixture applications.
The fixturing stiffness can be defined as the total deformation of fixture
components and their connection in a sensitive direction of machining ac-
curacy, under the action of a unit external force. The fixturing stiffness could
be static if the external force is considered static (e.g., clamping force) or
dynamic if the external force is dynamic (e.g., machining force). The static
stiffness relates to the deformation of fixture components under static forces
or constant components separated from dynamic forces. Static stiffness can
be expressed by the ratio of F (force or moment acting on the fixture) to Y
(the deformation in the direction of F), that is (Zhang, 1981),
( I )
where K, is the static stiffness of the fixture, F is the static external force,
and Y is the total deformation in the sensitive direction. In modular fixture
applications, F is a resultant force of the clamping forces and constant com-
ponents of cutting forces acting on the fixture.
Dynamic stiffness can be described by the ratio of the dynamic resultant
force applied on the fixture to the vibration amplitude of the fixture; that is,
K'=- - F' (N)
S A mm
(2)
where K: is the dynamic stiffness of the fixture, F' is the dynamic resultant
366 Chapter J J
force, and A is the amplitude of fixture vibrations. Because the dynamic
stiffness is always related to the static stiffness of the fixture, it is essential
to study the static stiffness.
The deformation of fixture components under the clamping force and
machining force may significantly affect the machining accuracy and sta-
bility. Figure la shows an example of fixturing deformation where a T-slot-
based modular fixture is designed for the turning operation. As a result of
the fixture component deformation under the clamping force, the measured
deviation of the hole center of the workpiece could be at the 10-f.,Lm level
(Zhu and Zhang, 1990). In order to ensure the required position tolerance,
the fixturing stiffness must be improved. Figure 1 b shows an improvement
of the turning fixture. The study of the fixturing stiffness is also important
for an optimal design of fixture configurations and an optimal determination
of the clamping force.
Also, because of the interfaces between fixture components in a fixture
assembly and the screw-bolt connection, the deformation modes are quite
a) b)
Figure 1 An example of fixturing stiffness effel:t on machining accuracy: (a) the
original design; (b) an improvement of the design.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability 367
complicated. Conventional structural analysis methods, even finite-element
methods (FEM), may not work well in estimating the fixturing stiffness.
Therefore, a preliminary experimental study has been carried out to explore
the nature of fixturing deformation and provide information for further study.
11.2 FIXTURING STIFFNESS OF T-SLOT-BASED FIXTURES
Because there are many T-slots on the body of fixture components in a T-
slot fixture system, the structural stiffness of the fixture is weakened-
especially an open-structure cross section is present under bending defor-
mation. A basic fixture unit and a typical deformation curve are first studied.
Major affecting factors and the baseplate deformation are studied in partic-
ular. Finally, the dynamic response of the fixture structure is tested.
11.2.1 Basic Fixture Unit and Deformation Curve
In order to study the fixturing deformation in a general manner, a basic
assembly unit is considered. Figure 2 shows the basic assembly unit where
Figure 2 A basic assembly unit of T-slot-based modular fixtures.
368 Chapter J J
structural supports are bolted to a baseplate. When an external force (F) is
exerted on the upper portion of the supports in horizontal direction, the
fixture component deformation is measured as Ys in the horizontal direction.
It has been studied that when fewer than three supports were used, the
number of supports would not significantly affect the fixturing deformation
(Zhang, 1981). Figure 3 shows a typical curve of the fixture component
deformation as the external force increases.
The total fixturing deformation (Ys) can be decomposed into four indi-
vidual deformations of the fixture components and their connections-the
elastic deformations of the baseplate (Yb) and supports (Ye), the contact de-
formation in the interfaces of the baseplate and supports (y), and the shift
displacement (Yt), as shown in Fig. 4. The deformation curves can be divided
into three regions: the first linear region (I), the second nonlinear region (11),
and the third linear region (Ill). In the first region, the deformation of fixture
components is basically contributed to by the elastic deformation of the
baseplate and supports. The nonlinearity of the deformation curve in the
second region is caused by the interfaces between the baseplate and supports.
When the external force F is small, the deformation in the interfaces is
mainly the contact deformation which can be estimated by the Hertz contact
mechanics theory. However, if the external force is continuously increased,
the supports begin to separate with the baseplate, which causes a rapid in-
crease of the deformation amount. Therefore, the total deformation of the
fixture components becomes nonlinear in the second region. During the sep-
aration of the supports, the fastening bolt is extended, which results in a
320
E
280
2-
c::
240
0
'0
200

E
..s
160
t)
"0
120
bO
c::
'
80
x
u::
40
0
0 300 600 900 1200 1500 1800
F(N)
Figure 3 A typical fixturing defonnation curve with three regions.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability 369
Ye Yt
(a)
160

yr
140
+
yj

ye
120
)C
yb
E
100
ys
2-
80
>.
60
40
20
0
0
2 3 4 5
(b) F (xl0e3 N)
Figure 4 (a) Sketch of fixturing deformations; (b) deformation curves of fixture
component deformations.
greater fastening force. When the supports separates from the baseplate to
a certain degree, the extension of the bolt dominates the deformation. The
deformation curve becomes linear again in the third region. Figure 5 shows
the deformation and separation process in the interface of constructing
blocks and the baseplate. At different stages of the exerted external force,
the contributions of the four individual deformations of the total deformation
play different roles. Table 1 shows the percentages of the four individual
deformations in the total deformation.
370
II
III
Construct i ng
: Blocks
I
I I
L ________ I
/-----
Interface
bolt extension
Figure 5 Deformation process in the interface of fixture components.
11.2.2 Major Operational Effects on Fixturing Deformation
Chapter II
There are several major factors affecting the fixturing deformation. Studying
these effects may lead to an optimal design and assembly of T-slot-based
modular fixtures in the aspect of improving the fixturing stiffness.
(a) Fastening Force Effect
Increasing the fastening force will enhance the fixturing stiffness and de-
crease the total deformation. However, as the fastening force is increased,
the fixture component wear becomes a problem when it is disassembled for
reuse. A too large fastening force may damage the lip of the T-slots. Figure
6a shows the fixture component deformation under different fastening forces.
Figure 6b shows the decrease of the total deformation as the fastening force
is increased. It is seen that when the fastening force increased to a certain
value, the decrease of the total deformation becomes insignificant. Therefore,
Table 1 Percentages of Individual Deformations in Different Regions
Region
Ys
y" Yl Ye Yt
I 100 34 5 58 3
11 100 34-21 5-39 58-35 3-5
III 100 21-12 39-62 35-21 5-6
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
371
D Q = 800lb
320

Q= 1200lb
E
280 A Q= 1600lb
2-
240
+ Q= 2000 Ib
c
.2
)(
Q = 2400 Ib
~
200
Q = 2800 Ib
e
0
.
160
.u
"0
120 b{)
.
80
a
~
u... df)
0
0 300 600 900 1200 1500 1800
(a)
F(N)
240
E
0 F= 300 (N)
2-
200
c )(
F= 600 (N)
0
'0
160
+ F= 900 (N)
C':I
El
A F= 1200(N)
.
120

F= 1500(N)
.u
"0
D F= 1800 (N)
b{)
.
80
: :
40
..
u::
.,

.,
e e
0
0
6CX)
900 1200 1500 1800 2100 2400 2700 3000
(b) Fastening force (Jb)
Figure 6 (a) Deformation curves affected by the fastening force; (b) fixturing
deformation versus fastening force.
the fastening force needs to be optimized based on more understanding of
its effect.
(b) Locating Key Effect
Using locating keys will not only ensure the locating accuracy but also
decrease the fixturing deformation by reducing the shift displacement be-
tween the baseplate and supports. The experimental results are shown in Fig.
7. It is shown that under a large workload, the total deformation is decreased
if the locating keys are applied. Therefore, in the application of T-slot-based
372
25
20
E
15
2-
:>::
10
5
0
III without-key
with-key
0 300 600 900
F(N)
1200 1500
Figure 7 Fixturing defonnation affected by locating keys.
Chapter //
1800
modular fixtures, the proper use of locating keys is important for the locating
accuracy and fixturing stiffness.
(c) Fixture Configuration Effect
Different geometric shapes (square or rectangular cross section) and orien-
tation of the support will affect the fixturing deformation. Figure 8 shows
the deformation curves using different supports. Table 2 shows percentages
of four individual deformations with different supports. These results are
useful for optimal design and verification of fixture configurations. The
method of mounting the baseplate to a machine table also affects the fix-
turing stiffness. Figure 9 shows deformations of the baseplate under different
conditions (i.e., free, corner-edge-strap clamped, and central-strap clamped).
It is clear that using central-edge-strap clamps reduces the baseplate defor-
mation, although only two straps are used in comparison to the corner-strap
clamping method.
11.2.3 Mathematical Modeling of Fixture Deformation Curve
The fixture deformation curve in Fig. 3 can be expressed in a mathematical
model in which the total deformation is a function of the external force; that
is,
y, = f(F) (3)
Based on an adequacy analysis of the model order, y, is represented by
a second-order polynomial function of F,
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
373
Q Q
Q
(a) Square supporter (b) Rectangular supporter I (c) Rectangular supporter 11
320
8: 280
e
c:: 240
0
'::2
c (a)
(b)
(c)
cd
200

t3
160
4)
-0
bL) 120
c::
'
80
)(
u:: 40
0
0 300 600 900 12(X)
1500 1800
F(N)
Figure 8 Deformation curves for different supporters,
Table 2 Percentages of Individual Deformations with Different Supports
Supports
Ys Yb Yi Ye Yt
Square 100 34 5 58 3
Rectangular I 100 44 6 47 4
Rectangular II 100 54 5 36 5
D
80
'8
2-
c::
60
.9

E
..8 40
.g
B
t"tS
0..
20
4)
Vl
t"tS
CO
0
SOO 750 1000 1250 1500 1750
(C)
F(N)
Figure 9 Baseplate deformation with different mounting methods: (a) free clamping; (b) comer-
strap clamped; (c) central-edge-strap clamped.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability 375
(4)
where do, d
1
and d
2
are model parameters which can be determined from
regressions of experimental data. For example, in Fig. 6a, when the fastening
force Q = 1200 lbs, the total deformation becomes
Y
s
= 1.2 + 5.638F + 0.321 F2 (5)
If the fastening force Q is considered in the model, the total fixture
deformation Ys becomes a function of F and Q; that is,
Ys = [(F, Q) (6)
Also, based on the adequacy analysis, the multivariable regression
model becomes
y, = b
m
+ blOF + b
20
F2 + b01Q + b02Q2 + b11FQ + b
l2
FQ2 + b
2I
F2Q + b
22
F2Q2
(7)
Then, Fig. 6a can be represented as
y, = 15.682 - 13.712F + 3.591F2 - 18.922Q + 6.754Q2
+ 30.036FQ - 1O.790FQ2 - 5.037F2Q + 1.792F
2
Q2 (8)
In Eqs. (6) and (8), the first term is nonzero. This is because of the
hysteresis in the initial loading and unloading processes, which presents in
experiment results and will be explained in Sect. 11.3.2.
The mathematical model presents relationships between the typical fix-
ture unit deformation and the external force, as well as the fastening force.
It may provide useful information for an optimal determination of fastening
forces in fixture design.
11.2.4 Dynamic Fixturing Stiffness
When the modular fixture is used during a machining operation, the dynamic
fixturing stiffness is more important because the external force (F) is dy-
namic. Figure lOa shows the frequency response of the basic assembly unit
of T-slot-based modular fixtures. The major natural frequency (948 Hz) rep-
resents the first mode bending vibration of the baseplate and supports, as
shown in Fig. 11. Another frequency observed is a frequency a little lower
than the first one and with a much smaller amplitude (864 Hz), which is
376 Chapter 11
Q
10
Il)
Vl
8
c:
0
0.
Vl

6
u
'E

4
c:
>-
0
2
0
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
(a) Frequency (Hz)
10
8



6
.!::!
i
4
Cl
2
0
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
(b) Frequency (Hz)
Figure 10 (a) Dynamic response of assembly unit with a square supporter; (b)
dynamic response of assembly unit with rectangular supporter I; (c) dynamic re-
sponse of assembly unit with rectangular supporter 11.
caused by local contact vibration in the interface between baseplate and
supports. These frequencies are relatively higher compared with the natural
frequencies in machining. If the rectangle cross-section supports are used,
the frequency responses are smaller, as shown in Fig. lOb and IOc. Figure
12 shows the frequency response:; in cases of other fixturing configurations.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
377
Q
10
!
8
0
en
c::
0
0.
6
en
~
U
~ 4
c::
>.
Cl 2
0
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200
(c) Frequency (Hz)
Figure 10 Continued
Figure 11 The first mode of basic assembly unit vibration.
Figure 12
l()()
J()() dular fixtures.
of mo . response DynamIc
n
JCjl{!j" .
4 ~ ~ I
. a
\
1\
I I
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
11.3 FIXTURING STIFFNESS OF DOWEL-PIN-BASED
FIXTURES
379
Dowel-pin modular fixtures are more suitable for applications with computer
numerical control (CNC) machines and are widely used in the United States.
The stiffness of dowel-pin modular fixtures is obviously improved. This is
because holes are used to replace T-slots on the body of fixture components
and the open structure in bending deformation is eliminated. However, fix-
turing stiffness may be still a problem for the following reasons:
1. There are many holes machined on fixture components in order to
satisfy different assembly and adjustment requirements.
2. In the current market, dowel-pin modular fixtures are made of Cr
steel, whereas T-slot fixtures are made of CrNi steel. Therefore, the
deformation under Hertz contact force becomes more significant
compared with the situation of using T-slot modular fixtures.
3. Usually, the baseplate thickness is less than that in T-slot-based
fixtures and the baseplate deformation makes a significant contri-
bution to the total fixture deformation.
4. Fixture component selection is often limited by available space and
fixture component types.
In our preliminary study of dowel-pin modular-fixture deformation, an
experimental analysis method is applied similar to that in the T-slot modular-
fixture study. The total deformation of a typical assembly unit is tested and
decomposed into individual deformations of fixture components and their
connections. The effects of major factors are examined and compared with
the study of T-slot fixtures.
11.3.1 Typical Assembly Unit and Deformation Curve
A typical fixture unit is built up with a baseplate, console block, and a
locating tower, as shown in Fig. 13. The locating tower is connected to
console block with an M I 0 screw-bolt without a dowel pin, and the console
block is connected to the baseplate with two dowel pins and four screw-
bolts. Before the total deformation is measured, the hysteresis in initial load-
ing and unloading processes should be considered. Figure 14 shows the
remaining deformation in the loading and unloading process under a 3000-
lb. external force. Generally speaking, the remaining deformation is mainly
caused by assembling clearances between fixture components. It is also
caused by the plastic deformation and part of the elastic deformation in the
contact region, which is resistant to restoration by static friction. This re-
maining deformation can be reduced by using dowel pins in the connection
380 Chapter J J
F
Figure 13 A typical fixture unit of a dowel-pin modular fixture.
of fixture components and applying a certain preload to eliminate or reduce
the influence of the remained deformation.
Figure 15 shows the total deformation curve of the typical assembly
unit, which is obtained after the remaining deformation is removed in the
loading/unloading processes. Compared with the deformation curve for T-
slot fixtures, the nonlinearity is not significant. This is because in dowel-
pin-based modular-fixture assemblies, there is usually no long screw-bolt
used in fastening. Instead, the fastening is performed between each pair of
fixture components. Because dowel-pin fixtures are made of relatively soft
steel, the Hertz contact deformation is quite significant. Permanent press
marks can be observed as the fastening force increases, which becomes a
limit of the fastening-force amplitude.
- Loodir'l9
- Unlooding
D(XI0 -4 in.>
300
200
100
o
500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 re 110)
Figure 14 The hysteresis in initial loading and unloading processes.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
381
D(X]04 Ir ,)
300
200
100
o
500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 FClb)
Figure 15 The total defonnation curve.
Figure 16 shows the individual deformation modes decomposed from
the total deformation curve, including the effects of baseplate bending (dP),
the contact deformation between the console and baseplate (dB
l
), the con-
sole bending (dB
2
), the console shifting (dB
3
), the contact deformation be-
tween the console and locator (dS
I
), the locator bending (dS
2
). and the
locator shifting (dS
3
). Figure 17 shows their contributions to the total de-
formation and Table 3 indicates the percentages of individual deformations
in the total deformation under a load of 3000 lbs. The most significant effect
is the baseplate bending (dP). which can be reduced by applying clamping
straps when it is mounted to a machine table. The second most significant
effect is the contact deformation between the console and baseplate (dB
I
),
which may be reduced by applying a large fastening force in the connection.
The locator shifting (dS
3
), the contact deformation between the locator and
console (dS
I
), and the console bending (dB
2
) also make contributions in the
total deformation, where dS
3
is mainly caused by the clearance in the screw-
bolt connection. Other effects seem insignificant to the total deformation.
The principle of analyzing the individual deformations is the same as the
method used in T-slot modular-fixture study. It should be mentioned that the
preliminary experimental results are obtained from a specific fixture unit
configuration. When a different fixture unit is selected as the typical fixture
unit, the deformation percentages of different effects may be different, but
the general deformation pattern is similar.
382 Chapter 11
-j6P
r F
I
- ----. I
r ~ B 3
11 an 11
Figure 16 Individual deformation modes of a dowel-pin modular-fixture unit.
11.3.2 Major Operational Effects on Fixturing Deformation
Similar to T-slot-based modular fixtures, there are several major factors af-
fecting the fixturing deformation. First, increasing the fastening force will
reduce the fixturing deformation, as shown in Fig. 18. Because the material
used in dowel-pin modular fixtures is softer than the material used in T-slot
modular fixtures, as the fastening force increases, the fixture component
wear becomes more significant in dowel-pin modular-fixture applications.
The use of locating pins will not only ensure the locating accuracy but
also decrease the fixturing deformation by reducing the shift displacement
between fixture components. For example, if no pins are used between the
console and the baseplate in the fixture unit shown in Fig. 13, the total
fixturing deformation will increase under large external forces. The experi-
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
DCX10 -4 in)
75
aB
1
50
25
o
500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 rClb)
Figure 17 Contributions of individual deformations to the total deformation.
Table 3 Percentages of Individual Deformations
Contributing to Total Deformation
~ P
30.6
~ 210
0
8 190
8. 170
c
0
150
~
E 130
.E
Q)
110
"0
~
90
~
x
70
u:
21.1 11.7 3.6 13.4 2.3
;

400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600
Fastening force (0)
~ S
15.4
-F=2000Ib
-6--F = 1600 Ib
-F = 1200 Ib
_F=800Ib
Figure 18 Deformation reduction as the fastening force increases.
383
384 Chapter 11
400
-with pin
--- without pin
I 08d(1 b)
Figure 19 Effect of locating pins in modular-fixture deformation.
mental results are shown in Fig. 19. Therefore, the proper use of locating
pins is important to the locating accuracy and fixturing stiffness.
Baseplate deformation makes a significant contribution to the total fix-
turing deformation. Proper mounting of the baseplate to the machine table
will improve the stiffness of the fixturing stiffness. Experimental results
show that if a central-strap clamp is used in the baseplate mounting, the
total fixturing deformation will be reduced up to 20%. This conclusion is
consistent with the results from the T-slot fixture testing.
11.3.3 A Brief Summary
The fixturing stiffness analysis of dowel-pin-based modular fixtures is sim-
ilar to that of T-slot-based modular fixtures. The following is a brief sum-
mary of major findings in the experimental study of dowel-pin modular-
fixture stiffness.
The total fixture deformation is composed of the contact deformation
between fixture components and the deformation of the fixture components
themselves. The former is the major part and the latter is minor, except the
baseplate. Because there is rarely long screw bolts used in dowel-pin fix-
tures, the nonlinearity of the deformation curve is not significant.
When the fixture components are connected with dowel pins in addition
to the screw fastening, the shifting deformation is small, whereas without
dowel pins, it becomes larger and improper for a precise location. In addi-
tion, the remaining deformation is also large without dowel pins in the
connection.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability 385
Because dowel-pin-based modular fixtures are made of relatively soft
steel materials, contact surface damage may occur when the fastening force
is large and an insufficient fastening force usually leads to a weak stiffness.
11.4 CLAMPING STABILITY VERIFICATION
This section presents a method for automated verification of clamping sta-
bility in computer-aided modular-fixture designs. When a modular-fixture
design is conducted by using a CAD system, the equilibrium between clamp-
ing forces and locating responses needs to be evaluated for a reliable locat-
ing. If the positions and directions of locating and clamping components are
not appropriately placed, the clamping action may not secure the locating
but destroy it. In this section, two technical problems related to clamping
stability verification are studied: automated extraction of positions/directions
of clamping forces and locating responses, and evaluation of clamping equi-
librium of the fixture design. The automated extraction of the locating/
clamping positions/directions is implemented by adding special attributes
into a fixture component CAD database based on an analysis of locating and
clamping methods using modular-fixture components. To verify the clamp-
ing stability of a fixture design, the clamping forces are assumed active and
of known input forces, and the locating responses are passive and variables
to be solved. In the solution, all locating responses should be non-negative
for a stable clamping and the friction should be in a feasible range for a
stable clamping.
11.4.1 Clamping Stability in Computer-Aided Fixture Design
When a workpiece is fixtured, the clamping stability is defined as the equi-
librium between clamping forces and locating responses. If the positions and
directions of locating and clamping components are improper, the clamping
action may not secure the locating; it may destroy the locating. Figure 20
shows an example of unstable fixture designs, where the 3-2-1 locating
principle is applied. If the position of the clamping force is much higher
than the locating response position in the Y direction (h2 hi), there is a
rotational motion trend of the workpiece under a moment caused by the
clamping force at a higher position relative to the locator position. Therefore,
the contact of the workpiece and the right locator in the Y direction becomes
unreliable or unstable. Once a fixture design is finished by using a CAD
system, the clamping stability should be verified so that the fixture design
can be used in the workshop.
386
________ FORCE
Locating
response
h 2 h 1 unstable
Locating
response
Locating
response
Figure 20 An example of unstable fixture design.
11.4.2 Locator and Clamp Analysis
Camping force
Chapter //
The contacts of workpiece and fixture components are usually between the
workpiece and locating/clamping components. Therefore, only the positions
and orientations of the locators and clamps need to be identified in a fixture
design, where a geometric-modeling-based analysis of the manufactured
workpiece is not necessary and may be difficult because the workpiece could
be very different and complex. In order to identify the positions and direc-
tions of the contact forces, the locating and clamping methods of using
fixture components are analyzed based on dowel-pin modular-fixture sys-
tems. Typical locating components include round-pin locators (top and/or
edge locating), plane surface locators (top and/or edge locating), and V-block
locators. Figure 21 shows some examples of locating methods and locating
response directions. If there are different methods of using a locator, they
are treated as different locating components in the CAFD system (Figs. 21 a
and 2Ib).
In modular-fixture applications, the major clamping methods include top
clamping with straps and side clamping using screw-bolts. Figure 22 shows
examples of the clamping components and clamping forces they may pro-
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
387
Use top surface
Plain locator
1
@
\1fflt-
P
t
LlLJ
Use edge surface
2
a)
Use top surface
@
Shoulder locator
I "Iorkplece
1
ij
mLOCo.tor
_et-pt
I
I Bcu;e Plo. tE'
CD
Use shoulder

@
2
1 I }Locotor
1-
I Base plQte
-1
Ct
-
pt
0
b)
Figure 21 Locators and their application modes: (a) plain locator; (b) shoulder
locator; (c) round locating pin; (d) diamond (relieved) locating pin; (e) locator: (f)
edge supports; (g) V-blocks.
388
Round locatinq pin
Diaaond (Relieved)
locatinq pin
Figure 21 Continued
Chapter II
IJorkplece
Bo.se plo.te
c)
d)
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
389
Lacator
@

\rIorkpiece
I I J.-Locotor
CC!?
I
Bo.se Plo. te
e)
Edge supports
t)
Figure 21 Continued
390 Chapter J J
V blocks
Vblock
g)
Figure 21 Continued
vide. The purpose of the extraction of the positions/directions of the clamp-
ing forces and locating responses is to catch the positions and orientations
of the locators and clamps from a computer-aided modular-fixture design.
11.4.3 Modification of Fixture Component Database
Fixture component CAD databases provided by fixture companies usually
contain two-dimensional (2-D) or three-dimensional (3-D) drawing files of
each fixture component. The number of fixture components are limited in a
fixture system. In order to obtain the information of fixture-workpiece con-
tact positions and directions, special attributes are added to each locator and
clamp in the fixture component database based on the analysis of all locators
and clamps in modular-fixture systems. In Fig. 23, a contact vector is defined
by two points in the fixture component coordinate system for each locating
and clamping method. The first point on the locator (or clamp) surface is
defined as the contact point, which specifies the position of the locating
(clamping) force. The other point is defined inside the locator (clamp) so
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
Adjustable screw
clamp (horizontal)
a)
W'orkplece
391
Figure 22 Clamps and their application modes: (a) adjustable screw clamp (hor-
izontal); (b) screw edge clamps (angle); (c) tapped-heel clamps.
that the direction of the locating response (clamping force) can be deter-
mined by connecting the two points. When a specific CAD command is
executed, the position of the two points will be automatically recorded to
an output file. Therefore, when a fixture design is finished, the fixture-
workpiece contact points (positions) and directions of the clamping forces
and locating responses are provided by listing all attributes into an external
file.
11.4.4 Verification of Clamping Stability
In order to verify the clamping stability, equilibrium equations are first es-
tablished where the friction forces are considered. To overcome the difficulty
of solving the equations in 3-D where the directions and amplitudes of
friction forces are hard to determine, all the forces are projected to 2-D
planes, which may lead to a more conservative conclusion of clamping sta-
bility in fixture design.
392
Screw edge clamps
(angle)
Tapped-heel clamps
Figure 22 Continued
\lorkplece
b)
Clo.l"lp \.
A
t
I I
I ~ I
W'orkPlefe .,
I I I j-\
Bo.se p l ~ t ! I
I
c)
Chapter 11
I
,.
! (
)
I
CL: :
I
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
I
----
1..., __ r
J
I I
I I
I I
I I
attribute value L811
attribute tag CT-PT
X 24.4789
Y = 17.0462
Z = 2.0
attribute value L812
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 24.4789
Y 17.0462
Z 0.0
CONT AC T POINT}
ATTRIBUTE
DIRECTION
Figure 23 Attributes attached to the CAD model of fixture components.
(a) Equilibrium Equations
393
Based on the information in the output file from the fixture CAD system,
the equilibrium equations can be established and solved for the clamping
stability verification by running an external program. Basically, the equilib-
rium equations include a force and moment equilibrium about the X, Y, and
Z axes; that is,
(9)
In the clamping stability verification of fixture designs, it is assumed
that the clamping forces are active and known input forces. The locating
responses are passive and variables to be solved. If there is no friction
considered, the above equations are solvable when the six-point locating
principle is applied to the fixture design, where the six locating responses
are equal to the number of equations. When one or more locating responses
are identified as negative, the fixture design is considered unstable. However,
the solution may not be valid in a real situation where the friction between
394 Chapter //
the workpiece and fixture components gives a positive support of the clamp-
ing stability.
(b) Friction Force Discussion
The friction forces bring in some uncertainties in the calculation. The direc-
tions of friction forces need to be identified, which should be opposite to
the trend of relative motion at the interface of workpiece and fixture com-
ponents (locators and clamps). Depending on the external force, the ampli-
tudes of the friction forces are in the range
(10)
where Ft is the friction force, /J.. is the friction coefficient, and Fn is a normal
force at the interface of the workpiece and fixture components.
If the workpiece is assumed as a rigid body, a uniform friction acting
factor is applied, which allows the friction forces to increase uniformly from
o to the maximum value (f.LFn):
(11 )
where ex is the friction acting factor, which may vary m a range from 0
to 1.
(c) Conversion to 2-D Problems
Because of the uncertainty of friction forces, especially their directions, there
are no theoretical solutions for Eq. (9). In this research, the 3-D stability
problem is converted into three 2-D problems. All clamping forces and lo-
cating responses are projected into three orthogonal planes (the X- Y, Y-Z,
and X-Z planes). For the clamping stability problem, if a fixture design is
verified stable under the three 2-D cases, it is certainly stable in the 3-D
situation. During the conversion, three locating responses are maintained in
each of the 2-D models according to their effectiveness in the stability prob-
lem. Figure 24 shows an example of simplified 2-D models in the X- Y plane,
where a locating response in the Y direction is omitted at the position be-
tween two other locating responses in the Y direction.
Once the stability problem is simplified into 2-D problems, a recursive
algorithm can be applied to provide solutions. The procedure of the algo-
rithm is as follows:
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
C IR
Workpiece
Locating Force
Clamping Force
... Negative Locating
Force
Locator
Figure 24 The 2-D simplification of the stability analysis model.
Solve the equilibrium equations without friction effects
395
If there is any negative locating response is identified (otherwise stable),
let it be zero and determine a possible rotation center (e
IR
) by con-
sidering the other two contacts
Determine the directions of all friction forces which contribute to the
resistance of the rotation
Increase the acting factor of the friction forces from 0 to 1 and find the
solution of the equilibrium equations
Give a conclusion of clamping stability: stable if all solutions for the
locating responses are non-negative for a feasible acting factor of
friction forces (less than 1), otherwise unstable.
(d) Discussion of Underlocating and Overlocating Problems
In practical fixture designs in the workshop, it is possible to have over-
locating (using more than one point to restrict one degree of freedom) or
underlocating (one or more degrees of freedom are not restricted). For ex-
ample, four locators may be utilized under a large workpiece to restrict three
degrees of freedom and provide an additional support. In this case, the
above-mentioned equilibrium equations are still valid for clamping stability
verification. When it is simplified to 2-D problems, the extra locating re-
sponse is omitted according to its effectiveness for the stability. An equiv-
alent six-point locating system is actually formed. In the case of underlo-
cating, the equilibrium equation is omitted in the direction in which the
degree of freedom is not restricted. The number of remaining equilibrium
equations is equal to the number of variables (locating responses), which
can be solved for clamping stability verification.
396 Chapter II
11.4.5 Implementation Example
Figure 25 shows a block diagram of the automated clamping stability veri-
fication system. Figure 26 shows two fixture configurations for the work-
piece presented in Fig. 20, where (a) is the unstable situation and (b) is the
improved design (a clamping angle is applied). Figure 27 shows the outputs
with position/direction attributes for all locators and clamps used in the
fixture design from the CAD system. The differences between these two
designs can be identified through an examination and comparison of the
attribute outputs. Based on the information in the output file, the clamping
stability can be verified by applying the recursive algorithm. In the first
design, the locating responses include a negative value even when the acting
factor of friction forces is increased to I. Therefore, it is unstable. Figure
28 shows another example of modular-fixture designs, verified stable in
clamping.
Fixture
design
modification
Figure 25 The clamping stability verification system.
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
0 0
0
0
0 0 0
0
0 000
0 0
0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0
000 0
0
0 0
0
0
0 0
0 0
0 0 0 0 000
0
0
0
0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0
attribute value L191
attribute tag CT-PT
X 18.4789
Y : 18.0462
Z 3.375
attribute value L192
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 18.4789
Y : 19.0462
Z = 3.375
attribute value L191
attribute tag eT-PT
X = 24.4789
Y = 18.0462
Z : ).)75
attribute value L192
attribute tag DIRECTION
X = 24.4789
" = 19.0462
Z 3.375
attribute value C022
attr ibute tilq DIRECTION
X 21. 4691
Y 8.65945
Z = 4.5
attribute value C021
attribute tag CT-PT
X = 21.4691
Y 11.0144
Z -, 4.5
attribute value L051
attribute tag eT-PT
x 24.4789
y 13.0462
Z = 2.0
attribute value L052
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 24.4789
Y 1300462
= 0.0
/':;-",


o 0
00
o
,/
000
:
000
000 0 0 0
o
<:>
00 0
000
0
attribute value LOS1
attribute tag CT-PT
X .. 24.4789
Y '" 17.0462
Z '" 2.0
attribute value L052
attribute tag DIRECTION
X '" 24.4789
Y '" 17.0462
Z '" 0.0
attribute value L392
attribute tag DIRECTION
X = 17.4632
Y '" 15.0462
Z '" 0.0
attribute value L391
attribute tag CT-PT
X - 17.4632
Y '" 15.0462
Z '" 2.0
attribute value L382
attribute tag DIRECTION
X = 16.4789
Y = 15.0462
Z '" 2.25
attribute value L381
attribute tag eT-PT
X '" 17.2914
Y = 15.0462
Z = 2.25
attribute value C021
attribute tag CT-PT
X 25.3289
Y = 15.9907
Z = 3.69454
attribute value C022
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 29.6039
Y 15.9907
Z '" 3.69454
Figure 26 An unstable fixture design and the attribute output.
397
0"
o 0"_,_
0
0
..
1
0 I
0
/
/'
398
o o 0
1 )0 0 ()
I :, ')C'
o o
0
1
0
0
o
l
>': 0 0
') 0
0 000 0
o 0 0 0
o 0 000 0
L ____ ---'
attribute value L391
attribute tag CT-PT
X .7.4632
Y = 15.0462
Z = 2.0
attribute value L392
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 17.4632
Y = 15.0462
Z = 0.0
attribute value Ll91
attribute tag CT-PT
X = 18.4789
Y = 18.0462
Z = 3.375
attribute value L192
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 18.4789
Y ., \9.0462
Z = 3.375
attribute value L191
tag CT-PT
X 24.4789
Y = 18.0462
Z = ).375
attribute value L192
attribute tag DlRECTION
X 24.4789
Y 19.0462
Z=3.)75
attribute value C022
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 21.4691
Y = 8.65945
Z = 4.5
attribute value C021
attribute tag CT-PT
X 21.4691
Y 13.0344
Z - 4.5
attribute value L811
attribute tag CT-PT
X = 24.4789
Y = 17.0462
Z = 2.0
attribute value LB12
attribute tag DIRECTION
X = 24.4789
'i = 17.0462
Z = 0.0
attribute value L821
attribute tag CT-PT
X '" 24.4789
Y '"' 15.0462
Z = 2.0
attribute value L822
attribute tag DIRECTION
X =< 24.4789
Y =< 15.0462
Z = 0.0
attribute value COlI
attribute tag CT-PT
X 25.1787
Y = 16.0612
Z = 2.71674
attribute value C012
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 28.4164
Y = 16.0612
Z = ).0
attribute value LJ81
attribute tag CT-PT
X 17.2914
Y = 15.0462
Z 2.25
attribute value L)82
attribute tag DIRECTION
X 16.4789
'i 15.0462
Z '" 2.25
Figure 27 The improved fixture design and the attribute output.
Chapter 11
Fixturing Stiffness and Clamping Stability
399
Figure 28 Another example of a modular-fixture design.
REFERENCES
Berry, D. C. (1982), "Application of CAD/CAM to Fixture Design," in First Bi-
ennial International Machine Tool Technolog.\' Conference, Chicago, IL, pp.
45-66.
Chou, Y c., V. Chandru, and M. M. Barash (1989), "A Mathematical Approach to
Automatic Design of Fixtures: Analysis and Synthesis," Journal Engineer-
ing for Industry, Vol. Ill, pp. 299-306.
Rong, Y, S. Li, and Y Bai (1994a), "Development of Flexible Fixturing Technique
in Manufacturing Industry," in Fifth International Symposium on Robotics
and Manufacturing, Maui, HI, pp. 661-666.
Rong, Y, S. Wu, and T. Chu (1994b), "Automatic Verification of Clamping Stability
in Computer-Aided Fixture Design," in ASME Computers in Engineering,
Minneapolis, MN, pp. 421-426.
Thompson, B. S., and M. V. Gandhi (1989), "Commentary on Flexible Fixturing,"
Applied Mechanics Reviel1.', Vol. 39, No. 9, pp. 1365- 1369.
Trappey, 1. c., and C. R. Liu (] 989), "An Automatic Workholding Verification
System," in 4th International Conference 011 the Science (/lId
Technology the Future, Stockholm, Sweden, pp. 23-34.
400 Chapter 11
Zhang. S. (1981). "Experimental Study on Fixturing Stiffness of Small-size-series
Modular Fixture," M.S. Thesis, Tsinghua University, Beijing.
Zhu, Y., and S. Zhang (1990), Modular Fixture Systems: Theory and Applications,
Machinery Press, Beijing.
Zhu, Y., S. Zhang, and Y. Rong (1993), "Experimental Study on Fixturing Stiffness
of T-Slot-Based Modular Fixtures," in NAMRC XXI, Still water, OK,
pp. 231-235.
12
Fast Interference-Checking
Algorithlll for Autolllated
Fixture-Design Verification
Fixtures are tooling devices used to locate, support, and hold workpieces
during a manufacturing process. The major purpose of a computer-aided
fixture design (CAFD) system is to provide a fixture design based on fix-
turing principle and workpiece information. Interference checking between
the machining tool and fixture units, as well as between fixture units, is one
of the important performances of fixture design. Once the fixture configu-
ration design is generated with CAFD, interference checking should be em-
ployed. Interference checking is an important aspect of fixture-design veri-
fication. Although there is an interference-checking function provided in
most CAD systems, it may require a significant amount of time because
there may be many fixture components involved in a modular-fixture design.
In this study, the interference between the workpiece and fixture components
is conducted by applying the interference-checking function between solids
within CAD systems, as only one workpiece is involved in the iteration
process. Because the geometry of modular-fixture components can be sim-
plified into simple shapes and their combinations, a rapid interference-check-
ing algorithm is studied for detecting possible interference between the ma-
chining cutter and the fixture components.
12.1 INTRODUCTION
Computer-aided fixture design has been intensively studied in recent years.
Once a fixture is designed by using CAFD, its performance needs to be
evaluated. Fixture-design performance may include the locating accuracy for
401
402 Chapter 12
ensuring tolerance requirements of a product design, clamping and machin-
ing stability and fixturing stiffness to resist fixture component deformations,
and tool-path interference (Trappey and Liu, 1990). In previous research of
CAFD, a possible interference of the tool-path and fixture components was
visually checked (Berry, 1982). It is obviously desired that the interference
can be checked automatically. Several techniques may be applied to inter-
ference checking.
12.1.1 Related Research on Interference Checking
The detection of collision and interference between moving objects plays an
important role and has been studied in the areas of computer graphics, mo-
tion simulation, autonomous coordinating planning :If multiple robots, and
programming and control of the manufacturing system. Many algorithms
have been developed for detecting collisions and interference between two
objects represented by boundary representations (B-rep) (Herman, 1986;
Canny, 1988; Esterling and Rosendale, 1987). Because the algorithms are
realized by a successive intersection check between the surfaces of the ob-
jects, the calculation time and cost is directly proportional to a combined
number of the faces. If it is a detection between moving objects, additional
calculation time, proportional to the number of the vertices of the objects,
is required for renewing their coordinates. Constructive solid geometry
(CSG) can be used to represent a solid object by a set-theoretic Boolean
expression of primitive objects. Many commercial packages of CAD provide
the functions for detecting the interference between two solid objects. When
the number of objects in a system is large (i.e., if there are many fixture
components are involved in a fixture design), the computation time is also
significant. In order to increase the efficiency of the collision detection be-
tween moving objects, several fast algorithms were studied by representing
all objects in hierarchical models such as octrees, a sphere, and an octsphere
(Noborio and Tanimoto, 1989; Ahuja and Nash, 1990; Sandberg, 1987; Yang
et al., 1994).
Swept volume represents the cumulative volume of occupancy of a solid
moving in space. It could be applied to represent the moving cutter swept
volume and, then, to check the interference between the cutter and fixture
components where the Boolean intersection of the swept volume and the
fixture component models is calculated. The analytical expressions of swept
volumes, generated by a sphere and a cylinder, has been presented (Ganter
and Uicker, 1986; Kieffer and Litvin, 1991; and Ling and Chase, 1996). The
mathematical expression is complicated and may cause intensive computa-
tion (Wang and Wang, 1986).
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 403
Spatial representation is another method to represent a solid as a com-
bination of variable orthorhombic cells (Ngoi and Whybrew, 1993), which
has been applied to the problem of designing assemblies of T-slot modular
fixtures (Ngoi et aI., 1997). It is suited to the shape of the modular-fixturing
blocks, but not the fine geometric details of curved or angled surfaces.
12.1.2 Fixture-Design-Related Interference Checking
During machining processes, fixtures are applied to locate the workpiece
relative to the cutting tools. Generally, there are four types of interference
which may occur related to the fixture design:
Type A interference: interference between fixture components and
the swept volume generated by the cutting tool, as shown in Fig. I
Type B interference: interference between the workpiece and moving
cutter during the machining process, as shown in Fig. 2
Type C interference: interference between the fixture components
and workpiece, as shown in Fig. 3
Type D interference: interference among fixture components, also
shown in Fig. 3, where two fixture units, a clamping unit, and a side-
locating unit are positioned on the same side of the workpiece with
an insufficient distance; therefore, interference occurs.
Figure 1 Type A interference.
404 Chapter 12
Figure 2 Type B interference.
In fixture-design verification stage, only types A, C, and D interference
are considered because no fixture components are involved in type B inter-
ference. Interference checking is an important topic in the fields of CAD/
CAM, robotics, and computer simulation or animation. Basically, the meth-
ods for interference checking can be divided into two categories: continuous
time checking and discrete time checking (also called the step-and-step
check approach). The basic problems in the interference checking include
Figure 3 Types C and D interference.
Fast Inteiference-Checking Algorithm 405
(1) the tool-path representation, (2) simplification of fixture component mod-
els, and (3) algorithms for interference detection.
The basic requirements of an effective and efficient interference check-
ing algorithm include the following:
Fast: Obviously, the interference checking process has too many it-
erations, which is time-consuming.
Precise: Interference checking has to be as precise as the require-
ments of tolerance, otherwise the results of interference checking are
not reliable.
Detailed interference information: Interference location and amount
are usually required to be retrievable in the verification stage.
Because standard components with relatively regular shapes are utilized
in modular-fixture systems, the geometric models of the fixture components
can be much simplified. Therefore, a new method is developed and imple-
mented in this research. Because a CAFD system has been developed (Rong
and Bai, 1997), the interference-checking implementation can be integrated
with the CAFD system. The major functions developed in this research
include the following;
To retrieve the fixture design created by the computer-aided fixture-
modular design system, FIX-Des
To simplify the fixture component models
To generate a tool-path representation in 3-axis and 5-axis numerical
control (NC) machining
To detect interference between fixture components as well as the
workpiece
To detect interference between modular-fixture components and tool
path
To develop a method to check interference between fixture compo-
nents
To report detailed interference information
12.2 INTERFERENCE CHECKING BETWEEN FIXTURE
COMPONENTS AND TOOL PATH
In order to simplify the algorithm of interference checking, the cutter and
fixture components need to be mode led. The modular-fixture design is usu-
ally composed of a baseplate, several locators and clamps, as well as other
supporting components. The modular-fixture components in commercial sys-
tems are usually relatively simple in geometry. Our study on the modular-
406 Chapter 12
fixture components shows that the modular-fixture component can be clas-
sified into three types: block type, cylinder type, or block-cylinder type, as
shown in Fig. 4 (Rong and Bai, 1997). Some modular-fixture components
are assemblies which may be complicated in geometry, but they can be
always decomposed into the combination of block type and cylinder type.
Even for some complex fixture components, the two basic type models can
be used to represent their geometry approximately. Therefore, the modular-
fixture design can be geometrically represented by a number of blocks and
cylinders which are placed in a specific space on the working coordinate
systems, as shown in Fig. 5.
It is well known that the moving cutter can be mode led as a cylinder
whose axis is either perpendicular or parallel (for vertical or horizontal ma-
chining operations, respectively) to the machine table in 2.5- and 3-axis Ne
machining operations. In this case, the fixture components can be simplified
and represented in a two-dimensional (2-0) space. This method of object
representation is similar to the method used by Brost and Goldberg (1996)
in their fixture design where fixture components were decomposed into
blocks or cylinders and projected into 2-D rectangles or circles. For each
fixture component, a number of blocks or cylinders may be involved, also
as may be several sets of 2-D geometrical contours with respect to certain
height values, as shown in Fig. 6. For the purpose of interference checking,
the cutter can be simplified as an axis segment if the fixture components
boundaries are expanded by the amount of the cutter radius.
Figure 4 Some fixture components.


C 00
.--.-.-.---.--.- -
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 407
Figure 5 An example of a modular-fixturing system.
0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0
0
0
0
0
(',0 0
0
0
0
0
0
0 0
0
0 0 0
0

0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0 0
o <s;.::)
0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0
8
Qi'>o
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0

1{3
1
0 0 0
0 00..0>
0 0

o <} 0
0 0
11 ---. 0 <) 0
<.) 0
,')
0 0 0 ' (0
0 0


0 0


0 0
0

0
0 0 0 0 0
0 0 0
0 0 o I,' 0 0
0 0
,--I
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0 0
0
0 0 0
0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 0
Figure 6 A 2-D view of a modular-fixturing system.
408 Chapter 12
12.2.1 Fixture Component Models and Expansion
Because block and cylinder types of fixture component models are consid-
ered, only line segments and circular arcs are present as fixture component
boundaries on the projecting plane. Figure 7 a shows several examples of the
2-D projections of fixture components as well as the cutter. When the fixture
component boundaries are expanded by the amount of the cutter radius, the
cutter project can be regarded as a point. Therefore, interference checking
can be simplified significantly. In order to expand a complete contour, first
each edge of the contour must be expanded independently so that a set of
expanded edges are generated and they are not connected with each other,
as shown in Fig. 7b. Second, by checking the intersection with every two
adjacent edges, some edges are cut off when intersections occur, and some
corner arcs are added in order to make the new contour both closed and
smooth, as shown in Fig. 7c.
Each line segment can be represented as a vector, and the direction of
the vector is determined by the counterclockwise (CCW) loop. After expan-

q
bounding box
Cutter
----- with
radius r
"
Gap after flrst
expanding
___
Figure 7 Three examples of the expanding procedure.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 409
sion, the vector always has an offset r (radius of the cutter) on the right side
of the loop. For the arc, the radius of the arc is expanded by radius of the
cutter, and the central angle of the arc is changed. In order to add a proper
arc on each gap on the contour to make the contour closed, the arc must
satisfy the requirement of that the arc center point is right on the intersection
of the two adjacent edges and its radius is same as the cutter radius. Simi-
larly, the start point is right on the end point of the last edge and the end
point is right on the start point of the next edge. When an intersection point
is found during intersection checking, the coordinates of the two related
points can be calculated, and they are assigned as the start point of the last
edge and end point of the next edge.
For each line segment within the contour, for instance, [XI' yd to [X2,
Y2J. it is expanded to the line segment [x;, y;] to [ x ~ y ~ ] . The line segments
are always in the same direction as the original ones, as shown in Fig. 8.
Moreover, the expanded line segment is always on the right side of the
contour loop. Similar to the offset function in CAD drawing, the line seg-
ment is moved along the vector perpendicular to it. In Fig. 8, if the cutter
radius is r and the angle from a horizontal axis to the line segment is defined
as a, then a can be obtained:
( I )
The new coordinates of the expanded line segment [x;, y;] to [ x ~ y ~ ]
can be determined by
(2a)
(2b)
I ( 'TT)
Y2 = Y2 + r SIn ex - "2
For each circular arc in the contour, the arc, start point [XI' yd, end
point [X2' Y2], radius R, and center point [xc, yc1 are required to present a 2-
D arc, as shown in Fig. 9. When it is expanded, the new arc has same center
point [xc> yJ, start angle aI, and end angle (X2' The only difference between
them is that the new one has a larger radius, R + r. In other words, the old
410 Chapter 12
Figure 8 Expanding a line segment.
arc has been expanded along the radius direction with an offset r, which is
the cutter radius. The start and end angles, a
l
and ab respectively, can be
obtained by
(
Yl - Ye)
(Xl = arctan ---
Xl - Xl'
(3a)
(3b)
The new coordinates of the expanded arc with new start and end points
[x;, y;] and [ x ~ y ~ ] respectively can be calculated:
r
Figure 9 Expanding an arc.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 411
(4a)
(4b)
12.2.2 Cutter Modeling and Tool-Path Representation for
Three-Axis NC Machining
The expanding algorithm is fully based on the assumption that the cutter
can be simplified as a cylinder and represented by the axis of the cylinder.
Therefore, it is important to understand the geometrical relation between the
cutter and the fixture in the algorithm. In 3-axis NC machining operations,
the milling cutter is simplified as a cylinder with a radius. During the ma-
chining operation, the cutter (or the cylinder) is always perpendicular to the
machine table where the baseplate holds the workpiece and all the fixture
components. After projecting the cylinder on the baseplate, the cutter shape
becomes a circle with height information. Once the projecting boundaries
of fixture components are expanded, the circle is transformed to a dot. There-
fore, the tool path becomes the path of the dot moving through on the plane,
as shown in Fig. 10.
An NC machine is a piece of manufacturing equipment that performs
machining operations automatically to produce parts. It is controlled by a
computer which reads in a set of motion commands and other control com-
mands to direct the operation of the machine. This set of commands is called
an NC program and is generated by the NC programmer with a CAM system
Figure 10 Simplified cutter model.
The cylinder which
represents a cutter
The circle center point
which represents the
cutter in XY plane
412 Chapter 12
or other tool-path generation methods. In general, NC machine motions usu-
ally involve two motion control modes: the linear interpolation mode and
the circular interpolation mode. With the linear interpolation mode, the cutter
moves relative to the workpiece from point to point on a straight-line path.
With the circular interpolation mode, the cutter moves from point to point
along a circular arc path.
By the simplification of the cutter model, the tool path can be modeled
as a moving dot (the tool tip center) in a 3-D space. The tool path can be
defined as
F(x. y, z) = 0 (5)
It is true that the tool path is generated with respect to time, 1. Therefore.
it is well represented by parametric equations
x = X(t)}
y = y(t)
z ::: z(t)
(6)
Furthermore, the moving cutter can be modeled as a 2-D continuous
curve with certain height values after being projected on a X-Y plane. Usu-
ally, the height z, or value on the Z axis, is a variable of time 1; that is,
F(x(t), y(t = 0
(7)
z = z(t)
If the linear interpolation is used to represent the tool path, the positions
of the two end points can be obtained by a given interval .11. If the first
point is [XI' YI' zd and, after .1t, the cutter is moved to the second point [X2'
Y2' Z21. a 3-D line segment can be defined by
(8)
The first equation in Eq. (8) represents a 2-D line segment after a 3-D
line segment is projected on the X- Y plane because a 3-D line segment
projection is also a linear segment on a 2-D plane. The second equation
provides the height information of the line segment.
Circular arc model is also considered as a basic element of tool-path
when a projected circular arc on XY plane is recognized. An arc segment
can be defined as
Fast Inteiference-Checking Algorithm 413
(9)
where (xC' yJ is the center point of the arc, R is the radius of arc, and h is
a constant representing the height of the arc.
12.2.3 Interference Detection Between Tool Path and
Fixture Components
After the simplifications, both fixture component and cutter models are 2-D
geometric elements with certain heights. Therefore, basically, the 3-D inter-
ference checking is degraded into a 2-D interference detection with respect
to an additional height detection. Figure 11 shows a diagram of the inter-
ference detection procedure.
It is important to know all the geometrical elements representing the
fixture components and the tool path, which are directional with a start point
and an end point, as shown in Fig. 12. Usually, there are three possible
conditions of the tool-path element relative to the fixture components:
(a) the tool-path element, as a line segment u, is exterior to the fixture
component contour (ABeD in Fig. 12).
(b) u is interior to ABeD.
(c) u intersects an edge of ABeD.
When the tool-path element is interior to (case b) or intersects with (case
c) the fixture component contour, a possible collision presents if the height
of the tool overlaps the fixture component. These three conditions can be
identified by studying the following two basic problems:
I . If a point is interior to the contour
2. If and where the intersection occurs between a line segment (or arc)
and a contour of the fixture component
Each tool-path element always has a starting point. Whether the point
lies in the fixture component (Fe) contour must first be determined because,
without this information, it is unknown if the next tool-path element lies in
or out of the FE contour. Also, sometimes the tool path may be perpendicular
to the baseplate, which means the line segment becomes a point after the
tool-path element is projected on the baseplate plane. Therefore, an algo-
rithm for the basic problem 1 is developed to detect if the starting point of
a tool-path element is in an Fe contour, whereas another algorithm for the
basic problem 2 is to identify the intersection between the tool-path element
and the Fe contour.
414
rr-----t--_,-tl ______ .... ...--....L.------.
:
, I
\ ............................ _ .............. )
Interference
data results
(Fixture
component ID te----t--i
tool-path ID
interference
position and
volume)
If the next Fe is
NULL
If the next tool-path is
NULL
Figure 11 Interference checking diagram.
Chapter 12
" ........ _ 0-...................................... .
f "1
i I
I
I
i
I
Height data I
= ~ I
... , ......... _ ..................... _ .............. ;
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm
4/5
A
D
A
D
D
./
""
A
'" '"
u
/
/
\I
Ii'
\I
/\
....... .......
B C B
....-
C
B C
a. b. c.
Figure 12 Three intersection conditions.
(a) Detection of a Point Within a Contour
In fixture component models, all contours are simplified as closed-loop
polygons: r is used to denote the given point representing the projected tool
path and an arbitrary point P is used to define a ray from r through P, as
shown in Fig. 13. P is rotated about r for 360
0
with a distance to ensure that
P is not inside of the FC contour. Then, the intersection is detected for each
edge of the contour against the ray where the geometrical intersection de-
tection method can be applied and which will be discussed in a later section.
After the detection, the number of intersection points is counted. If the total
number of intersection points is n, then the r lies in the contour if n is odd
number; on the other hand, r lies out of the contour if n is even number.
There are two conditions before the conclusion whether or not r is interior
is drawn. First, if the ray has a tangent intersection point with the contour,
it cannot be added to the total number n. Second, it is possible that the ray
has some intersection points which are exactly the end points of one or more
edges of the contour. Each end point of an edge in the contour is a joint
point between two consecutive edges. Theoretically, it is the two end points
which lie on two edges. Consequently, such a point should be detected twice
in the mathematical algorithm. In other words, we have to drop extra points
from n.
(b) Detection of Geometric Element Intersection
Because fixture components and tool-path elements are represented by line
and arc segments, the interference detection becomes a detection of inter-
sections of these segments. Furthermore, the interference location should be
determined also. In order to detect the location of the interference, the di-
rection of the intersection needs to be identified as the tool-path intersects
in or out of the fixture component contour. Because the fixture component
416 Chapter 12
Figure 13 Detection of a point r within a contour.
is represented by a closed-loop contour, each element of the contour can be
represented by a vector, v. Similarly, the tool-path element can be repre-
sented by a vector, u. When there is an intersection between the fixture
component and the tool path, the cross-product of the vectors u and v can
be used to identify the direction of the intersection. Mathematically, we have
j k
C = U x V U, U
2
~ ( lOa)
that is,
( lOb)
The vector directions of both the fixture component contour and tool
path are defined as positive in the CCW direction. When the tool-path ele-
ment runs into the fixture component contour, the cross-product of the two
vectors gives a vector direction going into the paper (8. When the tool-
path element goes out of the fixture component contour, the cross-product
of the two vectors gives a vector direction going out of the paper (8).
In Fig. 14a, U represents a line segment of the tool path. ABCD is the
fixture component contour where one contour element intersects the tool
path, which is represented by v. When U is going into ABCD, the cross-
product of the vectors can be evaluated, C = U X v. The direction of C is
(8). In this example, the result is straightforward because every geometrical
element is a line segment which can be directly used as a vector. Similarly,
in Fig. 14b, a circular arc or full circle can be also represented by a vector.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 417
A
D
B c
a. b.
Figure 14 Detection of a vector u in (@) and out (0<)).
Circle 0 represents the fixture component contour and arc 0
1
represents an
element of the tool path. v is used to represent 0 with a tangential direction,
and u is used to represent Oh also with a tangential direction. When 0
1
is
going out of 0, the cross-product of u and v is calculated as C = u X v
with the direction going out of the paper (0).
When the two vectors are defined by two point coordinates for each
{i.e., U = [(XI> YI), (x
2
, Y2)] and v = the cross-product
becomes
(11 )
If C > 0, the machining tool path is moving out of the fixture component
contour; otherwise, the tool path is going inside. This is under the assump-
tion of interference, which is detected as follows:
]. Intersection detection of two line segments. In general, the intersec-
tion of two line segments can be determined by examining the line
equations. When a line is defined by two points I x h Y I] and [X2' Y 2],
as shown in Fig. 15a, the coordinates of a point on the line can be
expressed as
where Tu is a coefficient with a value 0 :::; T" :::; 1.
( 12a)
( 12b)
When T. is changed from 0 to 1, the point Ix", Ynl moves on
the line segment from one end to the other. Thus, if Tn < 0 or T"
> ], x" and Y .. will extend beyond the segment.
418
(a)
(b)
(x"y,)
/ (x.,y.)
(x\, YI)
Chapter 12
Figure 15 (a) A line segment; (b) intersection of two line segments.
If the intersection occurs between two lines and the second line
is defined by points [X3, Y3] and [x
4
, Y.d, as shown in Fig. I5b, the
intersection point becomes
x" = xj3 and y" = YI3
Then
Finally, the solution of these simultaneous equations is
T = -(Xl - X
I
)(Y4 - Yl) + (y, - YI)(X
4
- X.l)
" -(x
2
- X
I
)(Y4 - Y.l) + (Y2 - YI)(X
4
- X,)
T _ -(Xl - X
I
)(Y3 - YI) + (Y2 - YI)(X
3
- XI)
13 - -(Xl - XI )(Y4 - y,) + (Yl - YI)(X
4
- x.\)
( 13a)
(l3b)
( 13c)
( 14a)
( 14b)
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 419
If the denominator of the expression defining Tu and T J3 is zero,
the lines are parallel. Hence, they do not intersect. If a solution is
found when 0 :::; To: :::; 1 and 0 :::; T J3 :::; 1, the segments intersect.
Once To. and T J3 are obtained under the intersection condition, the
intersection position can be figured out by solving Xu and y 0:'
2. Intersection detection of a line segment and an arc. An arbitrary
point on an arc with radius Rand center (xc, yJ can be defined as
x'" = Xc + R cos e
(15a)
YOI. = Ye + R sin e
( 15b)
where the angular range of the arc is (e" e
2
), as shown in Fig. 16.
If an intersection of the arc occurs with a line segment, we have
Rearranging the terms to cancel e,
Figure 16 Intersection of line and arc.
( 16a)
( 16b)
420 Chapter 12
and sin
2
e + cos
2
e = 1. This equation can be rewritten as a quadratic
function,
Ae + Bt + C = 0
where the constant A, B, and C are defined as
A = (X2 - XI)2 + (Y2 _ YI)2
B = 2(x
,
- xJ(x
2
- XI) + 2(y, - yJ(yz - YI)
C = (XI - XJ2 + (YI - yJ2 - R2
and = B2 - 4AC.
(17)
If < 0, there is no intersection between the line and circle. If
= 0, the line is tangent to the circle. Then, one solution is obtained
from the equation:
B
T =--
" 2A
( ISa)
In this case, whether the intersection occurs can be determined
in two general steps. First, the intersection point is checked laying
on the line segment under the condition 0 < Ta < 1, which was
discussed above. Otherwise, there is no intersection between the line
segment and the arc. In the second step, when T et is known, e" can
be calculated. If e
l
< e" < e
2
, the intersection occurs; otherwise, no
intersection point exists on the line segment and arc.
If a > 0, the line and the arc have two valid intersection points
for which
T" =
B :!: vLi
2A
( ISb)
Similarly, each of two points is checked by using the exactly
same method discussed when a = O. If 0 T" 1, the intersection
occurs and the intersection position can be identified.
3. Intersection detection of two arcs. The equations of two arcs are
defined as Arc 1 and Arc
2

Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm
421
Arc,:
x = Xo + Ro cos e} e e e
. 1< < ,
Y = Yo + Ro SIn e -
(l9a)
x = XI + RI cos e} e e e
. < < 4
Y = YI + RI SIn e -
( 19b)
where the angle range of Arc, and Arc
2
is [8" 8
2
] and [8:1. 8
4
],
respectively, as shown in Fig. 17.
When e is canceled, these equations can also be written as
(X - XO)2 + (Y - Yo)2 =
(x - X
I
)2 + (Y - YI)2 =
Combining these equations, we have
(20a)
(20b)
(2x - Xo - xl)(-X
O
+ XI) + (2y - Yo - YI)(-Yo + YI) = Ri) - (21)
By rearranging the equation, it becomes
- + - + - yz, YI - Yo
X = - --- Y (22a)
2(xl - xo) XI - Xo
__ _
Figure 17 Intersection of two arcs.
422
If the constants are defined as
It becomes
- + xi - + yi -
A=-----------"-----"-
2(xl - XO)
B = YI - Yo
XI - Xo
x = A - By
By substituting Eq. (22b) into Eq. (19a), it becomes
Rearranging the equation, we have
The constants can be defined as
C = (B
2
+ I)
D = [2B(A - xo) + 2YoI
Then, we have the standard quadratic function
Cy2 + Oy + E = 0
Chapter 12
(22b)
(23)
(25)
Based on = - 4CE, the intersection of two circles can be
identified in the following cases: (1) If < 0, there is no intersection
occurring between the two circles. (2) If = 0, two circles are
to each other at the position (x', y'), where y' = (- 0 ::!:
V and x can be obtained from Eq. (22b) using the informa-
tion of point (x', y') and Eq. (19), the angle 8' of each arc corre-
sponding to the point (x', y') can be computed. If the tangent point
lies on Arc 1 in the condition if 8
1
< 8' < 8
2
, and also on Arc
2
in the
condition < 8' < 8-l, the intersection occurs between two arcs;
otherwise, there is no intersection occurring. (3) If > 0, there are
two possible intersection points on the two circles. The procedure
Fast Inteiference-Checking Algorithm 423
of determining whether each point lies on both arcs is similar to
the calculation when ~ = O.
It can be seen that the algorithm discussed earlier is based on
the assumption that Xl - Xo * 0 in Eq. (22a). If this assumption is
not true, another mathematical algorithm should be developed for
the case, Xl - Xo = 0 or Xl = Xo (Fig. 18), Actually if XI = Xl = X
O
,
Eq. (20) becomes
(x - xli + (Y - YO)2 = ~
(x - X
I
)2 + (Y - YI)2 = Ri
Then, Eq. (21) becomes
Rearranging the equation, we have
and
~ (2222 ) X = + 0 2 _ ~ - RI + YI - Yo _ 2 + X
- .. '() Yo 0
2(YI - Yo)
(Xo, Yo)
~ ~ ~ ~ t ......
I ......
I ......
I ......
f ' ........
......
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ (x(, yd
~ . ~ - - - - - - - - - -
I
I
I
I
I
I
Xo =x(
Figure 18 Intersection of two arcs when Xo = XI'
(26a)
(26b)
(27)
(28)
(29)
424 Chapter 12
Therefore, the two possible intersection points are obtained, and
if the possible points lie on two arcs, intersection points can be
determined by using the same method presented above. The same
problem may be present, as it is possible that Yt - Yo = 0. When
Yt = Yo, the two arcs have the same center because, in this case, XI
= Xo and YI = YD' Therefore, if two arcs have different radii, it is
impossible to have any intersection points. But if their radii are the
same, the two arcs are checked to determine if they overlap or partly
overlap in the given angular range.
12.2.4 Discussion on Interference Checking in 5-Axis
NC Machining
Because the cutter may not be perpendicular (or parallel) to the baseplate
in 5-axis Ne machining, the simplified cutter can be considered as a union
object of many spheres sitting along the cutter axes, as shown in Fig. 19a.
The interference between the cutter and the bounding solids of fixture com-
ponents can be treated as the interference at one or more of the aligned
spheres with the bounding solids. The geometric characteristics of the
spheres assure that if the bounding solids are expanded with the sphere
radius, the interference between the sphere and the solids can be detected
by checking the sphere center with the expanded solids. Therefore, the in-
terference for the cutter against the bounding solids can be detected by
determining if there is an interference between the cutter axis and the ex-
panded fixture component models.
In Fig. 19b, P,,(t) is a vector representing the position of the cutter tip
end and A,,(t) represents the vector of the cutter axis, that is,
P/t) = xJt)i + yc(t)j + zc(t)k (30a)
AJt) = cos[a(t)]i + cos[(3(t)]j + cos('y(tk (30b)
where t is a time index parameter, a, ~ and 'Y are the angles between the
cutter axis and the x, y, and z axes, respectively. Therefore, the moving
cutter axis can be modeled by an arbitrary point on the cutter axis:
(31 )
where s is a parameter to specify the point along the cutter length, which is
in the range rO, L], and L is the length of the cutter.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 425
(a)
z
y
(b)
Figure 19 (a) Cutter modeling in 5-axis NC machining; (b) geometrical represen-
tation of cutter.
Simply, the cutter position can be expressed as
x(t, s) = xc(t) + s cos[a(t)]
yet, s) = yJt) + s
z(t, s) = Zc(t) + s cos["y(t)]
(32)
426 Chapter 12
Because the tool path is determined in NC programming, xcCt), yc(t),
zc(t), a(t), ~ t ) , and 'Y(t) are known. Therefore, the interference checking can
be performed by calculating the possible interference between the tool path
specified by the cutter position and all the expanded bounding solids of the
fixture components.
The fixture component geometry has been simplified into blocks, cyl-
inders, and their combinations, and they are projected into 2-D lines and
arcs with height information. Once the tool path is represented by a moving
point with parameters t and s, the method of the interference checking be-
comes the same as presented for the case of 3-axis NC machining, where
an additional iteration of s is required.
12.3 INTERFERENCE CHECKING BETWEEN
FIXTURE COMPONENTS
In our study, the automated fixture configuration design software is aug-
mented with commercial CAD packages. Although there is an interference
detection function in most CAD packages based on solid union operations,
the interference detection could be slow in modular-fixture design verifica-
tion, as there are many fixture units and components involved in a fixture
design. Besides, for the purpose of automated fixture-design modification,
the information is required about where, in which direction, and how much
the interference appears, which is usually not provided by the standard CAD
function. It is desired that the interference detection be performed during
fixture-design generation.
Because the modular-fixture components can be simplified into blocks,
cylinder, and their combinations, these prismatic objects can be projected
along the z axis into lines and arcs with height information. The interference
detection between the fixture components becomes a detection of intersec-
tions of two contour loops in two dimensions, which is similar to the method
used in interference detection between the tool path and the fixture com-
ponents. It should be mentioned that there is no need to expand the fixture
component boundaries in this case.
Basically, the intersection between two loops should be identified. Once
it occurs, the new loop presenting the intersection area should be given. In
Fig. 20, a rectangular contour ABCD and a circular contour H represent two
fixture components. The algorithm of interference checking between the cut-
ter and the fixture components is quite general and can be applied to this
case directly. If contour ABCD is considered as a sequence of the tool path
starting at point A, the intersection of loop AB CD is calculated with loop
H which represents a fixture component projection. The line segments EC
Fast Inteiference-Checking Algorithm
427
A
D
r ~ ~ ~
B
Figure 20 Intersection of two contours.
and FC are within loop H. Then, loop H is considered a set of tool paths,
and an arc, FE, is detected within loop ABCD. The intersection area is
bounded by line segments EC and FC, and arc FE.
However, it should be noted that if the rectangle and circle do not in-
tersect, it is possible that the rectangle is within the circle or the circle is
within the rectangle, as shown in Fig. 21. The algorithm for finding if a
point is within a loop can be applied to identify this situation, which has
been described in the previous section. A point is selected on a loop (say,
ABeD), and it is checked whether this point is within the other loop (e.g.,
H). If this is true, and no intersection is detected, loop AB CD is entirely
inside H. Similarly, no intersection is detected if H is entirely inside ABCD.
Figure 22 shows the procedure used for interference detection between fix-
ture components.
A
D
B
c
Figure 21 Two conditions of two contours without intersection.
428
,... ..... _ ............................................... \
I
Fixture I
component ...--+--__.------tl ...
geometric L..-___ ...,..-____ -.J
models
Height data
with respect
to fixture
components
~ - - - - - ~ - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ~ y
....................................................... "
Interference
data results
(Fixture
components ID
interference
position and
volume)
j
N
If J1h component
is NULL?
If ith component
is NULL?
y
N
Figure 22 Flowchart of interference detection of fixture components.
Chapter 12
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 429
12.4 ALGORITHM IMPROVEMENT DISCUSSION
The purpose of the rapid interference detection algorithm is to simplify the
computation effort where the geometrical models of fixture components and
tool path are greatly simplified. For a given tool-path element, actually it is
not necessary to check the interference against all the fixture components in
a modular-fixture configuration. If the fixture components far away from the
tool path element are filtered out before the interference-checking calcula-
tion, the computational efficiency can be even improved.
For the purpose of improving the efficiency, grids are defined on the
baseplate plane, as shown in Fig. 23. Fixture components projected on the
plane may be located in or cross one or more grids. To find out which grids
are occupied by a specific fixture components is a simple task. For example,
grids B2, B3, C2, and C3 are occupied by fixture components FEl and B 3 ~
B4 is occupied by FE2. After a precomputation, a 2-D array is generated
with respect to the grids on the baseplate. Each position of the array records
if any fixture component is occupying the corresponding grid, as shown in
Fig. 24. Probably, one position of the array has more than one fixture com-
ponent, and many positions may not have any fixture component occupied.
The interference detection needs to be performed only between fixture com-
ponents which have overlapping occupations of the grids; this will lead to
a significant reduction of computation effort.
This method is especially suitable for the interference checking between
the moving cutter and the fixture components because the cutter is always
2 3 4 5
A
B
B2 r-- ---- B3 r-- ---- B4
1 :: FE2 l
: FEl 1 , ______
~ - - - - - - ~ - - - - - 1
1 1
,-- - ___ ,
C C2 C3
D
Figure 23 Grids defined on the baseplate.
430 Chapter 12
2 3 4 5
A None None None None None
FEl
B None FEl FE2 None
FE2
C None FEl FEl None None
D None None None None None
Figure 24 The data structure corresponding to grids.
moving continuously. Therefore, the interference detection is only performed
relevant to the fixture components within the grid through which the moving
cutter passes. An example is illustrated in Fig. 25. A sequence of the tool
path is defined as a, b, c, d, e, f, g, and h. The first few steps, a, b, c, and
d, cross four grids, Cl, B I, A I, and A2. No fixture components are located
2 3 4 5
,.---------------r---------------r---------------"'------- .. ----- .. - ---------------
. , . .
I I
I I I
f , , I
A
. b: d 1 1
: ~ : "'" : :
:. .................... .. ....... }......................... .. .. ~ ............................... !-.............................. .. ........................... ...
, , ,
, ,
, ,
: B2 B3 CEJ' B4
: : FE2
~ ........ ..... ..... --- ... ~ } ............. : ............................. .
B
: : e: :
" ,
C
: : C2 C3:
" ,
, ~ , ~ l ' ,
~ ......... h .. -. ... g-- ........ +. --. ---- ---- -of -- -.. --- .... -- .............. ..
, , ,
, , ,
, , ,
, , ,
D
, , ,
, , ,
, , ,
I I I
l.. .. ______________ !. __________ .. ____ !.. .. ______________ !. ____ ... ____________________ .. _ .. __
Figure 25 An example under the improved method.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 431
in those areas. Therefore, no calculation is necessary. The next step, e,
crosses grids A2, B2, and C2. FE 1 can be found in grids B2 and C2. The
interference detection algorithm is used on the tool-path element e and the
fixture component FE 1. After processing step e, element f also lies in grid
C2. Therefore, interference detection is performed between e and FE1, al-
though there is no interference between them in this example. This method
greatly improves the efficiency of the interference-checking algorithm, es-
pecially in 5-axis NC machining processes.
12.5 IMPLEMENTATION
An automated interference checking (AIC) system has been developed (Hu,
1998), which can be integrated with the automated modular-fixture config-
uration design system. Information derived from the current generated fix-
ture-design layout is required to be an INPUT data set. The algorithm pro-
gram, PROCESSOR, is applied to find which steps in tool motion along the
tool-path are interfering with fixture components in the layout, as well as
the interference between fixture components. After all interference checking
is finished, the information is stored into an OUTPUT file, which can be
read by the CAFD core program to accomplish further design modification.
An overview of this system is illustrated in Fig. 26.
The input information includes the fixture-design information and the
machining-tool information. The first input is from a fixture component da-
tabase generated in the CAFD system, including all the geometric infor-
mation about the modular-fixture component. Second, the current fixture
configuration design of modular fixtures is also required, which is generated
by implementing the CAFD core program. The fixture-design file specifies
the fixture components used in the design, as well as the positions and
orientations of these components. Third, the radius of a selected cutter and
a sequence of tool paths in the machining process can be obtained from NC
programming or a CAM package for the geometrical computation purpose.
In the processing stage, two major processing steps are used in this
method: the contour expanding and interference calculation on preprocessed
models. Each fixture component contour is projected to a 2-D X-Y plane
and expanded by an offset equal to the cutter radius where the cutter is
simplified as an axis and projected as a dot. After the expansion, the inter-
ference-checking algorithm is applied to detect possible interference in the
fixture design.
Finally, if any interference is identified during the interference checking
between each tool-path element and any fixture component, the interference
position and exact area is determined and reported, including which fixture
432 Chapter 12

:: INPUT ::
" "
" "
!! Fixture Fixture Machining !!
:: component configuration Machining tool-path ::
!l database design cutter radius ::
" "
" "
" "
" I"
" l '.
" "
,I t.
" '.
" I,
" '.
::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
: : PROCESSOR
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
.'
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
Fixture
component
expanding
Expanded
contour data
Interference checking
algorithm
-----------"
----------.:
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
"
'.
'.
'.
'.
"
'.
"
"
'.
"
'.
'.
"
'.
"
"
"
"
'.
"
"
"
"
"
"
1<'===============================================
=================================lJ

!! OUTPUT !:
:: Interference ::
:! detection !!
:: results :!
:: ::
:: ::
" I1

Figure 26 Overview of the interference-checking method.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm 433
components and tool-path segments are involved in the collision. This in-
formation is important for fixture-design modification.
Figure 27 shows a sample workpiece and Fig. 28 shows a modular-
fixture design for the workpiece, which is generated by using the automated
modular-fixture design system, Fix-Des. In the fixture design, six locating
units and three clamping units are included. When these fixture components
are projected to the baseplate plane, the 2-D fixture component contours are
shown in Fig. 29. Figure 30 shows the expansion of the fixture component
models and Fig. 21 shows the tool-path projection. It should be noted that
although all the fixture components and the tool path are projected to 2-D,
the height information is associated with the data. After the Ale system is
implemented, the interference between fixture components and the tool path
is identified, as shown in Fig. 32.
For a summary, a fast interference-checking method is presented in this
chapter. Based on the geometric analysis of cutting tool and modular-fixture
characteristics, a simple but effective method is applied to represent fixture
component geometry and the tool path in two dimensions with height in-
formation. An interference-checking algorithm is developed to check the
possible interference between the cutter and all the fixture elements and
Figure 27 A sample workpiece.
434 Chapter 12
(a)
(b)
Figure 28 A fixture-design layout: (a) the 3-D view of the fixture-design layout:
(b) top view of the fixture-design layout.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm
435
CJ
Figure 29 Projection of the fixture configuration design.
(oJ
C O ~
Figure 30 Expanded fixture configuration design.
436 Chapter 12
[0 J
(0]
Figure 31 Projection of the tool path.
o
Figure 32 Interference-checking results.
Fast Interference-Checking Algorithm
437
interference among fixture elements. The results may be feedback to both
the fixture-design verification and Ne programming verification.
REFERENCES
Ahuja, N., and C. Nash (1990), "Octree Representation of Moving Bodies," Com-
puter Graphics and Image Process, Vol. 26, pp. 207-215.
Berry, D. C. (1982), "Application of CAD/CAM to Fixture Design," in First Bi-
ennial International Machine Tool Technology Conference, Chicago, pp. 43-
46.
Brost, R. C., and K. Y. Goldberg (1996), "A Complete Algorithm for Synthesizing
Modular Fixtures for Polygonal Parts," IEEE Transactions on Robots and
Automation, Vol. RA-12, No. 1, pp. 31-46.
Canny, J. (1988), "Collision Detection for Polyhedral," IEEE Transactions 011 Pat-
tern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, pp. 200-209.
Esterling, D. M., and J. Rosendale (1987), "An Intersection Algorithm for Moving
Parts," in NASA Symposium on Computer Aided Geometric Modeling, pp.
119-123.
Ganter, M. A., and J. J. Uicker, Jr. (1986), "Dynamic Collision Detection Using
Swept Solids," ASME Journal of Mechanisms, Transmissions, and Automa-
tion in Design, Vol. 108, No. 4, pp. 549-555.
Herman, M. (1986), "Fast Three-Dimension Collision Free Motion Planning," in
Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automa-
tion, pp. 1056-1063.
Hu, W. (1998), "Fast Interference Checking for Automated Fixture Design Verifi-
cation," Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.
Kieffer, J., and F. L. Litvin (1991), "Swept Volume Determination and Interference
Detection for Moving 3-D Solids," ASME Journal of Mechanical Design, Vol.
108, No. 4, pp. 456-463.
Ling, Z., and T. Chase (1996), "Generating the Swept Area of a Body Undergoing
Planner Motion," Journal of Mechanical Design, Vol. 118, No. 2, pp. 186-
192.
Ngoi, B. K. A., and K. Whybrew (1993), "A Fast Spatial Representation Method,"
International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, Vol. 8, No. 2,
pp. 71-77.
Ngoi, B. K. A., S. H. Yeo, and S. B. Tan (1997), "Tool Collision Detection in
Machining Using Spatial Representation Technique," International Journal of
Production Research, Vol. 35, No. 7, pp. 1789-1850.
Noborio, H., and S. L. Tanimoto (1989), "A New Interference Check Algorithm
Using Octree," Advances in Robotics, No. 3, pp. 12-18.
Rong, Y., and Y. Bai (1997), "Automated Generation of Modular Fixture Configu-
ration Design," ASME Transaction: Journal of Manufacturing Science and
Engineering, Vol. 119, No. 2, pp. 208-219.
438 Chapter 12
Sandberg, D. W. (1987), "Collision Detection Using Sphere Approximation," in
Proceedings of the International Conference on Robotics and Factories of the
Future, pp. 465-460.
Trappey, 1. c., and C. R. Liu (1990), "A Literature Survey of Fixture-Design Au-
tomation," International Journal of Advanced Manufacturing Technology,
Vol. 5, No. 3, pp. 240-55.
Wang, W. P., and K. K. Wang (1986), "Geometric Modeling for Swept Volume of
Moving Solids," IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Vol. 6, No. 12,
pp. 8-17.
Yang, H., X. Zhang, 1. Zhou, and 1. Yu (1994), "A Hierarchy of Octsphere Model
and its Application in Collision Detection," Advances in Design Automation,
Vol. 20, No. I, pp. 15-19.
13
Fixture Planning and Setup
Planning in CAD/CAM
Integration
Manufacturing planning makes a significant contribution to the production
cycle. This chapter studies a feature-analysis-based fixture and setup plan-
ning system to enhance the flexibility of production systems and reduce the
manufacturing planning time. Manufacturing features are defined where the
operational information is included in feature descriptions. Manufacturing is
modeled as a process of transferring a workpiece blank into the final product
by subtracting manufacturing features from the workpiece model. A back-
ward reasoning method is developed for setup planning. Based on geometric
and operational information, manufacturing features are identified and clus-
tered into setups with a certain sequence. Fixturing features are defined and
locating surfaces are automatically selected based on accuracy relationships
and geometric accessibility. Fixture configuration design is used to verify
the setup planning. Examples are given to show the effectiveness of the
method.
13.1 INTRODUCTION
Advanced manufacturing is characterized by the ability to allow a rapid
response to continuous changes of customer requirements. The very core is
flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) which lead to a reduced manufactur-
ing lead time, increased quality, and flexibility for changes in design
(O'Connor, 1994). Manufacturing planning is a key issue in the integration
of product design and manufacturing, which makes a significant contribution
to the production cycle (Hess, 1992). As computer-numerical control (CNC)
439
440 Chapter 13
techniques and machining centers are developed and widely utilized in in-
dustry, multiple operations in a single setup are quite common and desired
to save production time and cost. Machine motion can be controlled in many
axes with high accuracy for processing work pieces with complex geometry
in both rough and finish processing (Rong et aI., 1994). Fixture design be-
comes a major restriction for setup planning with multiple operations and
influences operation planning (Zhu and Rong, 1992). Conventional com-
puter-aided process planning (CAPP) systems do not include the fixture-
design function as desired (Alting and Zhang, 1989).
Flexible fixturing has become an important aspect in FMS and com-
puter-integrated manufacturing systems (CIMS) (Thompson and Gandhi,
9 8 6 ~ Nee and Senthil Kumar, 1991). Modular fixtures are the most widely
used flexible fixtures in industry (Trappey and Liu, 1990; Zhu and Zhang,
1990). The development of computer-aided fixture design (CAFD) systems
is necessary for making manufacturing systems truly flexible. The fixture-
design activities include three steps: setup planning, fixture planning, and
fixture configuration design. The objective of the setup planning is to de-
termine the number of setups needed, the orientation of the workpiece in
each setup, and the machining surfaces in each setup. The setup planning
could be a subset of process planning. Fixture planning is used to determine
the locating, supporting, and clamping surfaces and points on the workpiece.
The task of fixture configuration design is to select fixture elements and
place them into a final configuration to locate and clamp the workpiece. An
automated fixture configuration design (AFCD) has been developed (Rong
and Bai, 1997). This chapter presents the research work on setup planning
and fixture planning.
Some previous research on setup planning and fixture planning can be
found in the computer-aided process planning (CAPP) area, including a gen-
erate-and-evaluate strategy to determine the orientation of workpieces for
milling operation (Ferreira and Liu, 1988); a method for automated deter-
mination of fixture location and clamping derived from a mathematical
model (Chou et aI., 1989); an algorithm for selection of locating/clamping
positions which provide a maximum mechanical leverage (de Meter, 1993);
kinematic-analysis-based fixture planning (Menassa and DeVries, 1990;
Mani and Wilson, 1988); and rule-based systems developed to design mod-
ular fixtures for box-type workpieces (Markus et aI., 1984; Pham and de
Sam Lazaro, 1990). An automated selection of setups was presented, with
consideration of fixture designs, where tolerance factors of orientation errors
were used with several rules as the basis of determining locating surfaces
and setups (Boerma and Kals, 1989). Fixturing features were studied, which
need to be extracted from a product design for fixture-design purposes where
surface features of locatable surfaces and interrelationships between fixturing
Fixture Planning and Setup Planning 441
surfaces were analyzed (Rong et aI., 1993). The fixturability of a workpiece
as part of manufacturability was studied, where the fixturing grade and de-
pendency grade were defined for flat and form fixturing features which were
orientation dependent (Ong and Nee, 1995). In this study, manufacturing
features are first described with operational or nongeometric information.
Fixturing features are discussed with a consideration of the accuracy rela-
tionship and surface accessibility. Finally, a backward reasoning methodol-
ogy is applied to the setup planning. Examples are presented in the end of
the chapter to illustrate applications of the setup planning system.
13.2 MANUFACTURING FEATURES
Manufacturing planning starts with manufacturing information extraction
from computer-aided design (CAD) models of products (Chang and Wysk,
1984). Feature recognition and feature-based design are two basic ap-
proaches of accessing the information (Shah, 1992). The former involves a
form of 3-D matching between feature definitions and a geometric repre-
sentation of a solid model. This method may be used in dealing with CAD
data in a standard format (e.g., IGES, PDES, STEP, etc.). Therefore, it can
be applied to different companies. However, the features that can be rec-
ognized are limited and many complex geometric features cannot be iden-
tified. It is hard to handle nongeometric information such as tolerance and
operational information. The latter is a relatively straightforward approach
which allows the designers to use directly a set of predefined primitive
features to perform designs. In manufacturing planning applications, a man-
ufacturing feature base needs to be built up in advance. One disadvantage
of this approach is that the feature definitions may vary in different types
of industry and different companies, which becomes a major limitation of
applications.
13.2.1 Production Model and Backward Setup Planning
Manufacturing features can be defined as high-level geometric entities rep-
resenting volumes of material removed from a workpiece (or forming the
workpiece geometry). Once a geometric model of a workpiece is built up,
manufacturing processes are actually the processes of removing manufac-
turing features from the workpiece blank model with a certain sequence and
accuracy so that a product model is approached, that is,
W = Wo - L F
k
, k = I, 2, ... , N (1)
where W is the product model, Wo is the workpiece blank model, Fk is a
442 Chapter 13
manufacturing feature removed from the workpiece, and N is the number
of manufacturing features.
Geometrically, when operations under the j-th setup are considered, Eq.
( 1) is decomposed into
(2)
where Wj is workpiece model after operations under the j-th setup, Fij is a
manufacturing feature removed from the workpiece under the j-th setup, nj
IS the number of features processed under the j-th setup, and r is the number
of setups.
When a backward setup planning approach is considered, Eq. (2) can
be written as
W
J
I = W
J
+ 2: F'J' i = 1, 2, ... nj' j = 1, 2, ... r
(3)
In this approach, the setup planning starts from the finished product
model (i.e., the product design model). Once the planning for setup j is
finished, the product model for setup j - 1 is generated by applying the
add-material technique. When the setup planning is finished for all setups,
the workpiece blank model is reached.
13.2.2 Manufacturing Feature Classification and Feature Base
Manufacturing features are defined to transmit geometric and nongeometric
information for setup planning. The geometric information includes feature
shape and dimensional parameters, and feature position and orientation,
whereas the nongeometric information includes accuracy and operation in-
formation. In order to recognize manufacturing features for setup planning,
the features need to be clearly defined and classified into certain types ac-
cording to their geometry and operations used to generate these features.
Figure I shows a sketch for such a manufacturing feature classification.
Figure 2 shows several examples of manufacturing features. This feature
classification can be used to build up a manufacturing feature base and to
cluster the features into setups with a sequence.
(a) Protrusion Features
One technical problem in feature analysis is the treatment of protrusion
features. Protrusion features include boss, fillet, and rib features, which are
necessary in constructing workpiece models. Usually, protrusion features are
decomposed into depression features (Chamberlain et aI., 1993). The decom-
Fixture Planning and Setup Planning
Figure 1 Manufacturing feature classification.
z
z
@
L Y
Y
X
l-SLOT
STEP
Z
Z
y
y
RIB
BOSS
Figure 2 Samples of manufacturing features.
flat planes
end planes
straight steps
angular steps
443
shoulders straight slots
h h
slots
t roug
hlind slots V -slots
through keyways
hlmd keyways ..
z
01
DO
x
ED-HOLE
Z
X
DO
STP-HOl[
444 Chapter /3
position is not unique. Actually, in many designs, operational shoulders are
considered for a machining convenience based on the design for manufac-
turing principle. In this case, a parametric expression of depression features
can be applied to the corresponding protrusion features, as shown in Fig. 2
(rib and boss).
(b) Nongeometric Information
In setup planning, nongeometric information becomes necessary in operation
selection and sequencing. In order to make such decisions, manufacturing
features were defined with the accuracy requirement information and oper-
ational information (Chen and LeClair, 1994). The accuracy information
includes feature geometric accuracy such as dimensional and form tolerance,
and interfeature accuracy relationships such as orientation tolerance (e.g ..
perpendicularity and parallelism) and position tolerance (e.g., true position).
Operational information refers to work material, possible manufacturing
methods and machine tools, manufacturing tool types and size, feed motion
directions of the tool, and so forth. For example, tool information is the most
important information in operation selection and numerical control (NC)
programming (including interference checking). Motion directions of the
tool include approaching, feeding, and backing directions. Once a machine
tool (e.g., a horizontal or vertical machining center) is selected for a specific
setup, the tool axis direction relative to the axis of the machine tool spindle
is also important information for setup planning. The information is included
in the manufacturing feature description as attributes. It should be noted that
for a specific feature, the tool used and the axis directions may not be
uniquely determined where multiattributes are assigned for different selec-
tions in setup planning.
(c) Manufacturing Feature Information Description
In summary, manufacturing features can be represented by a CAD model
with geometric and nongeometric attributes, that is,
(4)
where Xo indicates the feature type and index, X I is a set of feature param-
eters representing the geometric shape and dimensions, X
2
is a matrix in-
dicating the feature position and orientation (origin and cosine directions of
the local coordinate system) relative to the workpiece coordinate system. X
1
is a set of data representing feature tolerances (both dimensional and form
tolerances) respective to XI' X
4
is a set of data representing interfeature
tolerances (dimensional, orientation, and position tolerances with datum ref-
Fixture Planning and Setup Planning 445
erences), and X5 represents operational information such as work material,
possible machining methods and machine tools of feature processing, ma-
chining tool types and sizes, feed approaching direction, and tool axis rel-
ative the machine spindle.
Table 1 presents an example of the information organization of manu-
facturing features, which is used in setup planning to determine feature
groups in different setups and the setup sequence.
Table 1 Manufacturing Feature Information
F
Xe Xl X
2 X1 Xt Xs
type para- position dimensional inter-feature tolerance operational
No. & meters & & form
I reference index orientation tolerance feature information
tolerance
n r-
5
]
11: 0.001
plane
machining
~ == l ~
110102
methods:
Ra==63
1.: 0.0002 plane
milling
110103
tools:
1==10.0
orientation:
CJ: 0.0004
distance:
face mill
02 plane
6.0 0.OO2
T401002
110101
b =4.0
plane
1-0 1 0 -5
110102
approaching
I1 0 0 -2
4.4 0.OOO7
hole
direction
z = 0.1
! 0 0-1 0 151103
[lllllO]T
lO 0 0
I
3.0 0.0006
hole
tool axis:
151101
direction: -z
I ~ H H l
//: 0.0003 hole machining
151201 methods:
Ra==63
boring
do == 2.4
distance:
tools: borer
2.0 0.0008
plane T301001
22
End-
ho== .66
+0.0005
110103 T302002
orientation:
2.4 -0.0002
hole
3.5 0.0009
hole approaching
151300
d
l
== 3.0
151201 direction:
lO -I 0 2 ~
3.0 0.0006
plane [OOOOIO]T
hi == 0.3
o 0 I 2.4
110101 tool axis
-1 0 0 3.1 1.5 O.OOO5
hole direction: +y
o 0 0 I _
151201
... . ..
Note: Workpiece material = casting iron; workpiece hardness = HB 250.
446 Chapter 13
13.2.3 Feature Accuracy
Accuracy requirements of manufacturing features are the most important
consideration for determining the sequences of setups and feature process-
ing. The ranges of dimensional tolerance, form tolerance, and surface finish
are related to the geometrical sizes of the features. In order to automatically
access the accuracy information, they should be represented in a compatible
format so that the accuracy requirements of different manufacturing features
can be compared and assigned with manufacturing sequence priorities. A
tolerance grade (IT: ISO tolerance) was defined by ISO. When dimensional
and form tolerances are considered, according to the natural relationship
between the tolerance grade and tolerance range with the nominal dimen-
sion, the tolerance grade of a manufacturing feature can be determined in
the following way. A tolerance unit is defined as
i = ay[) + bD (5)
where 0 is the nominal value of the feature dimension, and a and bare
constants.
According to the ISO description, the first term represents the uncer-
tainty caused by the manufacturing errors and the second term is the un-
certainty due to the measuring errors. In product design, the standard tol-
erance range with a tolerance grade should be given by
(6)
where k
j
is a coefficient and j is the tolerance grade.
Table 2 shows different kj's for the tolerance range calculation. In cur-
rent engineering designs, a tolerance range is usually given to each dimen-
sion, whereas the selection of manufacturing processes and machine tools
are based on the tolerance grade. In most CAPP systems, the tolerance grade
is determined by looking up a prestored data table. In this research, the
tolerance grade is estimated based on the given tolerance range, which can
be used uniformly with other accuracy or nonaccuracy factors for setup
planning decisions. From Table 2, it can be seen that k
j
+ I is approximately
increased from k
j
at a constant ratio of 1.585. Therefore, the dimensional
Table 2 ISO Tolerance Grade and Tolerance Values
IT 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Tol 7i lOi 16i 25i 40i 64i 100i 160i 250i 400i 640i 1000i
Fixture Planning and Setup Planning 447
and form tolerance grades can be obtained by taking tolerance grade 6 as a
reference:
(
IOg(100TOI) - log(i) )
Td (or Tf ) = Int 585 + 6
log( 1. )
(7)
In order to determine the values of constants a and b in Eq. (6), feature
dimensions can be divided into several ranges. The constants can be pre-
estimated in these ranges with a desired precision.
By following a similar idea, the surface finish of a feature can be taken
into account by converting it to an equivalent tolerance grade:
Tr = (8)
where Ra is the roughness height measure of surface finish.
In addition to feature dimensional/form tolerances and surface finish,
the positional and orientation tolerances need to be considered in the fixtur-
ing surface selection of fixture planning, which relates to the accuracy re-
lationships between features. If there is a feature which has a tight dimen-
sional tolerance relationship with a machining feature, that implies the
feature may be potentially used as an operational datum (i.e., a locating
surface in the setup). The orientation tolerance grade can be calculated as
(Rong et aI., 1996):
Val
T
p
=-
L
(9)
where Val is the orientation tolerance value and L is the maximum feature
dimension.
In order to eval