Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2003) 21:426–437

Ownership and Copyright
© 2003 Springer-Verlag London Limited
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Fixture Systems
J. J.-X. Liu and D. R. Strong
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, The University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
This paper presents a fixture configuration verification method-
ology for nonlinear fixture systems, which is developed on the
basis of optimal clamping forces and total restraint. This
method can be applied for validating the feasibility of a fixture
with point, line and area contacts in two stages: fixturing and
machining. The “ϱ-ϱ-ϱ” principle for nonlinear fixture
location is proposed. The automatic fixture verification system
is modelled as a nonlinear optimisation problem with respect
to minimum clamping forces. The method provides a simple
and effective means for: (a) verifying whether a particular
fixturing configuration is valid with respect to locating stability,
deterministic workpiece location, clamping stability and total
restraint and (b) determining minimum variable clamping
forces over the entire machining time. Two case studies are
presented to demonstrate the effectiveness and the capabilities
of the methodology.
Keywords: Fixture analysis; Fixture design; Fixture verifi-
cation
1. Introduction
The function of a machining fixture is to establish the required
position and orientation of a workpiece with respect to the
machining tool or cutter and maintain its position during
machining through a set of fixture elements in contact with
the workpiece. Common contact types between the workpiece
and fixture elements can be reduced to point, line and surface
contacts, determined by the various sizes and shapes of work-
piece and fixturing elements. A viable fixture configuration
verification system should be able to analyse a fixture system
with these types of location contacts. Round pin, vee-block
and plate locators are examples of point, line and surface
contacts in a fixture system.
Several fixture verification approaches were developed in the
past. In the frictionless case, Chou et al. [1] developed a
Correspondence and offprint requests to: Prof. D. R. Strong,
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, The University
of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada R3T 5V6. E-mail:
strong@ms.umanitoba.ca
methodology for determining the locating and clamping points
and clamping forces, based on state space representation and
linear programming. Using a nonlinear programming method,
Trappey and Liu [2] derived a quadratic model for the verifi-
cation of the fixture configuration. Fuh et al. [3] developed a
fixture analysis module for verification and rationalisation of a
fixturing scheme. To identify adequate clamping forces an
iterative method was used. These approaches treated machining
conditions as static and considered point contact for mechan-
ical restraint.
Taking dynamic machining conditions into account, Meyer
and Liou [4] proposed a fixture generation methodology for
prismatic workpieces based on linear programming techniques
without considering frictional forces. The fixture layout was
generated on the basis of part stability, deterministic pos-
itioning, good accessibility, positive clamping sequence and
total restraint. Their method found that a valid fixture has six
locators. Tao et al. [5] presented an approach for verifying the
total restraint of the workpiece based on force closure and
clamping equilibrium under a dynamic external load. A friction
methodology of clamping analysis was developed based on
nonlinear programming. Gravity and the centre of gravity
under dynamic machining in both approaches were considered
constant for determining whether a set of point contacts
provides total restraint.
Using a minimum energy principle, Li et al. [6] developed
a model for analysing fixtures with large contact areas such
as mechanical vices. The contact area between the vice and
workpiece is approximated by four squares, each having a
uniform pressure distribution. Static machining conditions were
assumed in their method. Taking into account line and surface
contacts for fixturing DeMeter [7] presented a linear program
which uses static equilibrium constraints to prove the existence
of the restraint of workpiece motion in the absence of external
loads, i.e. machining forces. Utilising the surface contact
wrench representation proposed by DeMeter, Tao et al. believed
that their proposed method is readily applicable to the fixturing
problems with polygonal supports. Demeter and Tao et al.
assumed that the positions of point contact forces are at the
end points of the line segments for line contacts and at the
vertices of a polygon for planar contacts.
The verification method presented in this paper demonstrates
that the positions of reactions on locators are not at the end
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Systems 427
points for these contacts. Figure 1(a) illustrates a fixture system
in 2-D with an edge locator. The part is subjected to a
machining force of [Ϫ100 N, Ϫ150 N]
T
. If two reactions R1
and R2 on an edge locator are assumed, the positions of these
reactions are not at the end points of the line segments as
shown in Fig. 1(b).
In many fixture applications, line and surface contacts are
relied upon for location and restraint. In the same operation,
a fixture configuration for the machining process may not have
the same configuration in the fixturing process, e.g. removable
locating pins. Thus, it is desirable to develop a fixture verifi-
cation system that can validate the feasibility of fixture con-
figurations with these contacts for location throughout the
operation in both the fixturing and machining stages. This
paper addresses the problem of validating fixture location
configurations with point, line and surface contacts based on
locating stability, deterministic workpiece location, clamping
stability, total restraint, and minimum clamping forces. The
first three functions are verified at the fixturing stages. The
fourth function, total restraint, that requires the minimum
clamping force is verified in the machining stages. The fixture
verification methodology also takes into account dynamic
machining conditions, including the effect of dynamic gravi-
tational forces on the fixture system. Vibration under dynamic
machining is not considered in this paper. Both the fixture
and the workpiece system are assumed to be rigid bodies in
this research.
2. Development of a Nonlinear Fixture
Verification System
2.1 Workpiece Static Equilibrium Constraints
Dynamic machining conditions occur when the machining
forces and moments travel or change in magnitude or direction
with respect to time. The variation of machining forces may
be due to the alteration of the depth of the cut, the feedrates,
and the machining directions. As a result, the magnitudes of
all fixturing forces, including locating, clamping, friction, and
gravitational, will vary with respect to machining time. The
fixture–workpiece system must be in static equilibrium for a
Fig. 1. Positions of reaction forces for a line contact. (a) A fixture configuration in 2-D. (b) Resulting fixture forces and positions.
stable fixture configuration to be realised over the machining
time. The static equilibrium equations for every force and
moment involved in a fixture–workpiece system, located in
Cartesian coordinate space, over machining time, can be math-
ematically expressed:
͸
F

(t) = 0 (1)
͸
r

(t) ϫ F

(t) = 0 (2)
where t denotes the machining time; F

(t) denotes the forces
with respect to machining time, which comprise the locating,
clamping, friction, machining, and gravitational forces; and
r

(t) denotes the moment arms of the forces at time t.
Locating, clamping, and frictional forces are the fixturing
forces to be determined. When the moment arms of the fixtur-
ing forces in the equation are known, the fixture system is
defined as a linear system because it consists of six linear
equations. Point contacts such as pins for locations are an
example of a linear system. When the moment arms of the
fixturing forces in the equation are unknown, the fixture system
is defined as a nonlinear system because the equation become
nonlinear. Fixture systems with line or area contacts such as
vee-blocks and plate locators for locations are examples of
nonlinear systems.
2.2 “ؕ-ؕ-ؕ” Principle for Nonlinear Fixture
Location
The purpose of location is to achieve the desired positional
and orientational relationship between the workpiece and the
machine tool or cutter, by depriving the workpiece of its six
degrees of freedom in space. Various locating methods have
been developed based on this purpose, which can be boiled
down to point, line and area contacts for location. One degree
of freedom of the workpiece can be constrained by a round
pin–point contact. Two degrees of freedom of the workpiece
can be constrained by an edge locator–line contact. Three
degrees of freedom of the workpiece can be constrained by a
plate locator–area contact.
428 J. J.-X. Liu and D. R. Strong
The most basic form of workpiece location is the six-point
or the “3-2-1” locating method [8]. With increasing numbers
of pins in the base (primary datum plane) from 3 to N, the
“3-2-1” locating principle may be expanded to the “N-2-1”
principle. If the locating plane configured by N pins is within
the requirements of the locating accuracy, which is obtainable,
the “N-2-1” principle for location is tenable. Using the same
method for secondary and tertiary datum planes the “N-2-1”
principle for location may be expanded to the “N-N-N” prin-
ciple. When the number of pins used in the datum plane tends
to approach infinity, an edge or plate locator may replace the
location pins. A line contact for location can be modelled as
a workpiece supported by an infinite number of pins along the
line. The area contact for location can be modelled as a
workpiece supported by an infinite number of pins in 2-D.
Hence, the “N-N-N” principle for location may be expanded
to the “ϱ-ϱ-ϱ” principle for nonlinear fixture location.
2.3 Positive Reaction Constraints
According to Newton’s third law [9], the forces of action and
reaction between bodies in contact have the same magnitude,
same line of action, and opposite sense. This law may be
applied to the fixture–workpiece system where locators with
point, line and area contacts are involved. The locators for
point contacts may be involved in locating the workpiece with
rough or machined surfaces. The locators for line or area
contacts may be involved in locating the workpiece with
machined surfaces. As proposed, a locating element with line
or area contacts for location, can be viewed as an element
made of an infinite number of tiny pins, each having a reaction.
The reaction distribution within a contact region is usually
unknown and completely dependent upon the magnitude and
point of application of all the acting forces. To simplify fixture
analysis, a resultant reaction of all the infinite number of
reaction forces is assumed for a fixture with line or area
contacts in the research. If the resultant reaction is positive, it
means that two rigid bodies (workpiece and locator) remain
in contact.
When the reaction is resolved into two components, one
perpendicular and the other tangent to the contact surface, the
perpendicular force is the normal force and the component
tangent to the surface is the frictional force. The frictional
force is then resolved into two components with respect to two
axes. The maximum frictional force which can be developed is
independent of the size of the contact area. To maintain the
workpiece stability during the fixturing and machining pro-
cesses, positive reactions on the locators are required. This is
realised by the normal vector at the contact being defined as
directed towards the workpiece. The normal force of the Car-
tesian component of the reaction must remain positive to
ensure the workpiece stays in contact with the locators. Fixture
verification checks if the total restraint of the workpiece in
dynamic machining is maintained at all times. The position
variables of the reaction can be determined through the static
equilibrium equations of the fixture system.
2.4 Fixturing Force Magnitude Constraints
When a particular clamp or locator is selected during the
fixture design, the fixture element has a certain holding or
supporting capacity. Hence, the maximum allowable fixturing
forces that locators and clamps can withstand are specified as
constraints. The maximum allowable clamping or locating force
may be defined as
F
max
= s ؒ F
limit
, 0 Ͻ s Յ 1 (3)
where s is a safety factor, and F
limit
is the largest possible
clamping or locating force a clamp or a locator could provide
in terms of its specifications.
During fixture setup and machining, the orientation of the
fixture placement might change from a horizontal position to
a vertical position or vice versa. As a result, friction forces
may become the only holding forces for the part, as the weight
of the workpiece may no longer be supported by the fixture
base, or clamps or locators. The fixtured workpiece might also
experience unexpected disturbing forces. Hence, the minimum
clamping force is set in such a way that the magnitudes of the
friction forces involved in holding the part must be sufficient to
maintain the stability of the workpiece in the fixture when it
is subject to the weight of the workpiece and unexpected
disturbing forces. The minimum allowable clamping F
min,C
may
be defined as:
F
min,C
=
W
2n
f
ؒ ␮
+ F
d
(4)
where W is the weight of the workpiece, n
f
is the number of
clamps involved in holding the part with friction forces, ␮ is
static friction coefficient, and F
d
is the disturbing force.
For the case where the weight of the workpiece is supported
by the fixture element other than the base, the minimum
allowable clamping force F
min,C
may be defined as:
F
min,C
=
W
(n
s
+ 2n
f
ؒ ␮)
+ F
d
(5)
where n
s
denotes the number of clamps involved in supporting
the weight.
To ensure the workpiece stays in contact with the locator
during machining, the minimum allowable locating force F
min,l
(10–20 N) is specified.
2.5 Position Variable Constraints
To ensure that the reaction force on the locators is originating
from the locating element in contact with the workpiece, the
position variables for locators must lie on the contact line or
within the contact region. Figure 2 illustrates common line or
area contacts, and constraints.
2.6 Fixture Verification with Respect to Optimal
Clamping Forces
If a resultant reaction force on the locator with line or area
contacts is assumed in a fixture–workpiece system, a valid
fixture configuration usually consists of an infinite number of
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Systems 429
Fig. 2. Position variable constraints for common line and area contacts.
feasible solutions to the static equilibrium equations of the
fixture–workpiece system with regard to reaction forces, clamp-
ing forces, and the positions of reactions on the locators.
However, there exists one solution for the minimum clamp-
ing force.
Theorem 1. There must exist one solution to the static equilib-
rium equations of a nonlinear fixture system under external
loads if the position variables of the reaction are determined
based on the minimum clamping force.
Proof: Fig. 3(a) illustrates a fixture configuration of a 2-D part
with line contact for location. The following inequalities can be
derived based on static equilibrium equations of the fixture system
and the relations between the friction force and normal force:
C Ն
F
x
2␮
Ϫ
1
2
(F
y
+ W) (6)
Fig. 3. Optimisation of clamping forces for fixtures. (a) A 2-D part with an edge locator. (b) A 3-D part with a plane locator.
C Ն
F
y
(x
F
Ϫ x
c
+ ␮ ؒ y
c
) + F
x
y
F
+ W(x
w
Ϫ x
c
+ ␮ ؒ y
c
)
x
N
Ϫ x
c
+ ␮ ؒ y
c
(7)
Ϫ (F
y
+ W)
where F
x
, F
y
, C, and W are the x, y components of machining
force, clamping force and weight, respectively; x
F
, y
F
, x
C
, y
C
,
x
w
, and x
N
are the coordinates for those forces; and ␮ is the
friction coefficient.
For each given x
N
, there are infinite numbers of solutions
of C which satisfy the inequalities, but there exists a minimum
clamping force C
min
and an x
N
, correspondingly:
C
min
=
F
x
2␮
Ϫ
1
2
(F
y
+ W) (8)
x
N
=
F
y
(x
F
Ϫ x
c
+ ␮ ؒ y
c
) + F
x
y
F
+ W(x
w
Ϫ x
c
+ ␮ ؒ y
c
)
F
x
2␮
+
1
2
(F
y
+ W)
(9)
+ x
c
Ϫ ␮ ؒ y
c
430 J. J.-X. Liu and D. R. Strong
Therefore, the position variable x
N
of the reaction for line
contact can be determined based on the minimum clamping
force.
Figure 3(b) illustrates a fixture configuration of a 3-D part
with area contact for location. The following inequalities can
be derived also based on the static equilibrium equations of
the fixture system, and the relations between the friction force
and normal force:
C Ն
1
2␮
ͱF
2
x
+ F
2
y
Ϫ
1
2
(F
z
+ W) (10)
C Ն
(F
y
x
F
Ϫ F
x
y
F
) Ϫ ␮(W + F
z
)(x
N
cos␪ Ϫ y
N
sin ␪)
␮(x
N
cos ␪ Ϫ y
N
sin ␪) + ␮(x
c
cos ␪ Ϫ y
c
sin ␪)
(11)
C Ն
(y
N
+ x
N
)(W + F
z
) Ϫ W(y
w
+ x
w
) + z
F
(F
x
+ F
y
) Ϫ F
z
(y
F
Ϫ x
F
)
␮ ؒ z
c
(cos ␪ + sin ␪) + (y
c
+ x
c
) Ϫ (y
N
+ x
N
)
(12)
where sin ␪ = F
x
(F
2
x
+ F
2
y
)
Ϫ1/2
, cos ␪ = F
y
(F
2
x
+ F
2
y
)
Ϫ1/2
; F
x
, F
y
,
F
z
, C, and W are the machining force components, clamping
force and weight, respectively; x
F
, y
F
, z
F
, x
C
, y
C
, z
C
, x
w
, y
w
,
x
N
and y
N
are the coordinates for those forces; and ␮ is the
friction coefficient.
For each given x
N
and y
N
, there are infinite numbers of
feasible solutions of C which satisfy the inequalities, but there
exists a minimum clamping force C
min
:
C
min
=
1
2␮
ͱF
2
x
+ F
2
y
Ϫ
1
2
(F
z
+ W) (13)
According to Eq. (13), the position variables x
N
and y
N
of the
reaction N can be determined through the inequalities (11) and
(12) by substituting the C’s in the inequalities with C
min
.
Therefore, there is one optimal solution to the static equilib-
rium equations of a nonlinear fixture system under external
loads, based on the minimum clamping force.
If multiple clamps (C
i
, i = 1, 2, %, n) are exerted on the
3-D part in the same direction, but at a different locations, the
following inequalities can be similarly derived.
͸
n
i=1
C
i
Ն
1
2␮
ͱF
2
x
+ F
2
y
Ϫ
1
2
(F
z
+ W) (14)
min
͸
n
i=1
C
i
=
1
2␮
ͱF
2
x
+ F
2
y
Ϫ
1
2
(F
z
+ W) (15)
From Eq. (15), it can be seen that the optimisation problem
is to minimise the summation of the magnitudes of all clamping
forces acting on the workpiece.
2.7 Fixture Verification Model for Nonlinear Fixture
Systems
Following the theoretical discussion in previous sections, the
fixture verification is modelled as a nonlinear optimisation
problem. The optimal solution is the one that minimises the
magnitudes of all of the clamping forces acting on the work-
piece during the machining process. The objective function V
is to minimise the sum of the clamping force magnitudes C
j
with respect to machining time t:
MinV(t) =
͸
n
j=1
C
j
(t) (j = 1, 2, 3, %, n) (16)
If F
i
(t) denotes a fixture force (locating, clamping or friction)
magnitude at certain time t, and F
j
(t) denotes a clamping force
magnitude at certain time t when i = j % n, the objective
function V(t) can be rewritten as follows:
MinV(t) =
͸
n
i=j
F
i
(t) (i = 1, 2, 3, %j, %, n) (17)
Subject to:
1. Static equilibrium constraints – the fixture–workpiece system
must be in static equilibrium for a stable fixture configur-
ation to be realised over the machining time.
΄
a
11
a
12
% a
1n
00 %0 00 %0
00 %0 b
21
b
22
% b
2n
00 %0
00 %0 00 %0 c
31
c
32
%c
3n
00 %0 b
41
b
42
% b
4n
c
41
c
42
%c
4n
a
51
a
52
%a
5n
00 %0 c
51
c
52
%c
5n
a
61
a
62
% a
6n
b
61
b
62
% b
6n
00 %0
΅
ؒ (18)
΄
F
x,1
(t)F
x,2
(t) %F
x,n
(t)
F
y,1
(t)F
y,2
(t) %F
y,n
(t)
F
z,1
(t)F
z,2
(t) %F
z,n
(t)
΅
= Ϫ
΄
R
x
(t)
R
y
(t)
R
z
(t)
M
x
(t)
M
y
(t)
M
z
(t)
΅
where t is the machining time when the cutter is removing
the material from the part; a
ij
, b
ij
and c
ij
are the x, y and
z components of the direction and position vectors for each
fixture element (when i Յ 3, they are the direction coef-
ficients; when i Ͼ 3, they are the position variables); F
x,1
(t)
%, F
y,1
(t) %, and F
z,1
(t) % are components of the n
fixturing forces with respect to time, which comprise the
locating, clamping and frictional forces; R
x
(t), R
y
(t) and R
z
(t)
are the axial components of the resultant cutting force and
weight at time t; M
x
(t), M
y
(t) and M
z
(t) are the components
of the resultant moment of cutting forces and weight at
time t.
2. Coulomb friction constraints – the static friction forces f
x,i
,
f
y,i
, and f
z,i
must be positive over machining time t as:
f
x,i
(t)Ն0; f
y,i
(t)Ն0; and f
z,i
(t) (19)
Ն0 (i = 1, 2, 3, %n)
If the ␮ is the coefficient of static friction, the resultant
magnitude of the friction force can be less than or equal
to the magnitude of the fractional normal force (␮͉F
i
(t)͉)
over time t.
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Systems 431
Fig. 4. A flowchart of the fixture configuration verification program.
ͱf
2
x,i
(t) + f
2
y,i
(t) + f
2
z,i
(t) (20)
Յ␮|F
i
(t)| (i = 1, 2, 3, %, n)
3. Fixturing force magnitude constraints:
F
min,i
Յ F
i
(t) Յ F
max,i
(i = 1, 2, 3, %, n) (21)
4. Positive normal reaction constraints:
F
i
(t) Ն 0 (i = 1, 2, 3, %, n) (22)
5. Position variable constraints:
A
LB,ij
Յ a
ij
Յ A
UB,ij
; B
LB,ij
Յ b
ij
(23)
Յ B
UB,ij
; and C
LB,ij
Յ c
ij
Յ C
UB,ij
where A
LB,ij
, B
LB,ij
, and C
LB,ij
denote lower bounds, and
A
UB,ij
, B
UB,ij
, and C
UB,ij
denote upper bounds for the
position variables.
2.8 Fixture Verification for the Fixturing Process
From a mechanistic point of view [1], fixtures must satisfy the
following four functional requirements for holding workpiece:
locating stability, deterministic workpiece location, clamping
stability and total restraint. The first three functions are required
at the fixturing stages. The last function is required in the
machining stages. Using the fixture configuration verification
model developed previously in Section 2.7, locating stability,
deterministic workpiece location and clamping stability in the
fixturing process for a given fixture configuration is first
validated by running the verification model on LINGO7.0 [10],
a commercial nonlinear programming package.
During the fixturing process, machining time and machining
forces in the model are set to zero. Checking for locating
stability is accomplished by setting all the allowable clamping
forces to zero and the minimum locating forces to a given
value in the model. If a feasible solution to the model exists,
the workpiece is at equilibrium resting in the fixture. Physically,
432 J. J.-X. Liu and D. R. Strong
this means that static equilibrium of the fixture system is
achieved and no detaching forces on the locators are found.
The magnitudes of the locating forces can also be determined
by the model. If a feasible solution cannot be found, it is
verified that the workpiece is unstable due to its gravity acting
out of the fixture support. When there is no physical contact
on the line of action of gravity, three reactions on the contact
area are assumed in the model. If a feasible solution exists, it
is verified that locating stability of the workpiece is achieved.
Checking for deterministic workpiece location and clamping
stability is accomplished by setting all minimum and maximum
allowable clamping and locating forces to a known value. If
a feasible solution to the model exists, the workpiece is
deterministically located and the clamping forces do not upset
the stable and accurate position previously determined by the
locators. The result demonstrates that workpiece equilibrium is
maintained when the workpiece is subject to clamping forces
and weight. The solutions of the positive locating forces on
the locators in the model can be found. The magnitudes of
the minimum clamping forces to maintain workpiece stability
in the fixture can also be found. If a feasible solution to the
model cannot be found, the fixture in the fixturing stages is
verified to be invalid.
2.9 Fixture Verification for a Machining Process
Fixture verification for a machining process consists of two
main tasks: total restraint of the workpiece and determination
of minimum clamping forces. During machining, the fixture
should completely restrain the workpiece to counter dynamic
and unpredicted machining forces and moments. To ensure
total restraint of the workpiece under dynamic machining, the
fixture configuration is validated for all possible machining
paths or for the worst case, which is the machining path with
Fig. 5. A fixture configuration with point, line and area contacts. (All coordinates in centimetres.)
cutting forces acting against the clamps. Since total restraint
that determines the minimum clamping force is verified in the
machining stages, one of outputs from the model is a set
of variable clamping forces that is just enough to always
counterbalance the machining forces over the entire machin-
ing time.
During the verification of the machining processes, all
unknown forces such as reaction, gravitational, friction, and
clamping as well as position variables of reaction and gravi-
tational forces are determined, over the machining time.
The discrete dynamic fixturing solutions to the model over
machining time can be obtained by running the model on
LINGO7.0. If a feasible solution to the model is found, the
fixture configuration is verified to be valid because all fixture
forces on the locators are positive. This means that the
workpiece maintains contact with fixture elements during the
entire machining process. A set of variable clamping forces
is also determined to be sufficient to counterbalance the
dynamic machining forces. If a feasible solution to the model
cannot be found, the fixture is verified to be invalid because
it has not restrained the workpiece completely. To identify
which locator yields a negative value, all the reactions and
allowable locating forces would be reset to allow them to
have negative values and then the model is run again. This
assists in identifying which locator would actually detach
from the workpiece so that the invalid fixture configuration
can be corrected. As long as the position variables of the
resultant reaction force on edge or plate locators are con-
strained within the area in contact with the workpiece during
the verification process, the validation of the fixture system
is performed correctly.
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Systems 433
3. Implementation
The automatic fixture configuration verification system has
been implemented on a Pentium III Dell laptop computer. An
overall outline of the methodology is shown in Fig. 4. The
optimisation program for verification is run in a commercial
optimisation tool, LINGO7.0, which can solve linear, nonlinear,
and integer optimisation models. Data input and output as well,
as other models, are run in an Excel spreadsheet that is linked
to LINGO7.0. If the fixture configuration is valid, a feasible
solution is output with optimal values, in less than 30 seconds.
If there is no feasible solution, the fixture configuration being
verified is invalid. By resetting the reaction force constraints
to allow negative values, the system will identify that the
workpiece is detaching from a specific locator in a few seconds.
Results of the two case studies are summarised in the following
the section.
4. Fixture Configuration Verification Case
Studies
4.1 Case Study One
A fixture configuration, as shown in Fig. 5, consists of three
locators, pin, edge, and plate for location as well as two
horizontal clamps for clamping to secure a prismatic part with
a step feature on its top and with an elliptical pocket feature
on its base. A slot milling operation is going to be performed
on the part to produce a through slot.
During the first half of the cutting path, the depth of cut is
1 cm and the part is to undergo a machining force of [100
N, Ϫ100 N, Ϫ100 N]
T
at the middle of the axial depth of the
cut. During the second half of the cutting path, the depth of
cut is 2 cm and the part is to undergo a machining force of
Fig. 6. Normal reactions and clamping forces over time.
[200 N, Ϫ200 N, Ϫ200 N]
T
at the middle of the axial depth
of the cut. The diameter of the end mill is 2 cm. The cutter
travels along the positive x-direction with a feedrate of 0.5
cm/s. The total machining time for the entire cutting path is
40 seconds with machining forces and moments calculated
every 2 seconds, which translates into 21 dynamic fixturing
solutions. The part is subjected to an initial body force of [0,
0, Ϫ48 N]
T
at its centroid (10.3, 5, 5.1). It is required to verify
whether the fixture configuration is valid and to determine the
minimum clamping forces over the entire machining time.
Fixture verification for the fixturing process was performed
as follows. Under a gravitational force of 48 N, a feasible
solution to the verification model is found when three reactions
on the plate locator are assumed. All three reaction forces on
the plate locator are found to be positive: 11.4 N at (0, 10,
0), 24.7 N at (20, 3.5, 0) and 11.9 N at (0, 3.4, 0), respectively.
Therefore, the locating stability for the fixture configuration
is verified.
The minimum and maximum allowable locating forces were
set to 10 N and 800 N. The minimum and maximum allowable
clamping forces were set to 40 N and 600 N. It is verified
that the workpiece is deterministically located, and the clamp-
ing forces do not upset the stable and accurate position pre-
viously determined by locators when one reaction force on the
plate locator is assumed. A feasible solution to the nonlinear
verification model under the gravitational and clamping forces
was found, since all fixturing forces C1 = C2 = 40 N, L1 =
20.6 N at (8.8, 8.9, 0), L2 = 32.2 N at (11.3, 10, 8), and L3
= 40 N at (0, 2, 8) are positive. Friction forces involved in
the y-direction are 4.1 N at locator 1, and 3.7 N at locator 3.
Friction forces involved in the z-direction are 6.4 N at locator
2, 5.1 N at locator 3, 8 N at clamp 1, and 7.99 N at clamp 2.
Fixture verification for the machining process was carried
out as follows. Dynamic gravitational forces of the workpiece
are taken into account in the verification process. One reaction
434 J. J.-X. Liu and D. R. Strong
Fig. 7. Positions of the reaction on plate locator over time (Z = 0).
force on the plate locator and one reaction force on the edge
locator are assumed. Since feasible solutions to the nonlinear
verification model were found, total restraint of the workpiece
for a given machining direction in positive x is achieved.
Figure 6 illustrates that reaction forces on all three locators
under the variable clamping forces are positive. Figures 7 and
8 show the positions of reaction forces on the plate and
edge locators over time. It can be concluded that the fixture
configuration is valid for machining the slot. The required
minimum variable clamping forces C1 and C2 over time are
determined as shown in Fig. 6. If a dynamic clamp is
employed, the clamp should provide variable clamping forces
on the workpiece with respect to machining time. If a constant
clamping force rather than a variable clamping setting is
employed, the static minimum clamping forces for clamps C1
and C2 throughout the operation should be set to be 469.3 N
and 167.1 N, respectively. Under the proposed clamping
forces, the part stability under the dynamic machining will
be maintained.
Fig. 8. Positions of the reaction of edge locator over time (Y = 10).
4.2 Case Study Two
A fixture configuration as shown in Fig. 9 is to undergo a
peripheral milling operation. Figure 9(a) shows the fixture set-
up during the fixturing process with two removable pins used
for locating the part. Figure 9(b) illustrates the fixture set-up
during the machining process in the absence of the two remov-
able locating pins. Four clamps are applied on the workpiece
to maintain workpiece stability under the milling operations.
The workpiece is subjected to an initial body force of [0
N, 0 N, Ϫ56.4 N]
T
at its centroid (20, 5, 4.3), and machining
forces of [100 N, 50 N, Ϫ100 N]
T
, [Ϫ50 N, 100 N, Ϫ100
N]
T
, [Ϫ100 N, Ϫ50 N, Ϫ100 N]
T
, and [50 N, Ϫ100 N, Ϫ100
N]
T
for cutting paths 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively, at the middle
of the axial depth of the cut. The cutter travels: path 1 from
(6, 2, 9) to (34, 2, 9), path 2 from (34, 3, 9) to (34, 8, 9),
path 3 from (33, 8, 9) to (6, 8, 9), and path 4 from (6, 7, 9)
to (6, 3, 9) with a feedrate of 0.25 cm/s during machining.
The total machining time is 268 seconds with machining forces
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Systems 435
Fig. 9. Fixture configuration with removable locators: (a) fixturing process; (b) machining process. (All coordinates in centimetres.)
and moments calculated every 4 seconds, which produces 68
dynamic fixturing solutions. It is required to verify whether
the fixture configuration is valid, and to determine the minimum
clamping forces to hold the workpiece during machining.
Fixture verification for the fixturing process was performed
as follows. Under a gravitational force of 56.4 N, locating
stability for the given fixture configuration is achievable, since
a feasible solution to the nonlinear verification model was
436 J. J.-X. Liu and D. R. Strong
Fig. 10. Normal reactions on plane locators 1 and 2 over time.
found when three reactions on two plate locators are assumed.
Positive locating forces L1, L2 and L3 are found, which are
19.1 N at (0, 4.1, 0), 27 N at (30.3, 3.8, 0), and 10.3 N at
(30.3, 10, 0), respectively. The minimum and maximum allow-
able locating forces were set to 10 N and 600 N. The minimum
and maximum allowable clamping forces were set to 40 N
and 400 N. The coefficient of static friction is 0.2 for all
contacts between the workpiece and the fixture element. It has
been verified that the workpiece is deterministically located
and the clamping forces do not upset the stable and accurate
position previously determined by locators. This is because a
Fig. 11. Minimum clamping forces over time.
feasible solution to the model under the gravitational and
clamping forces was found. All fixturing forces C1 = C2 =
C3 = C4 = 40 N, L1 = 108.2 N at (9.9, 9.9, 0), and L2 =
108.2 N at (30, 0, 0) are positive.
Fixture configuration for the machining process is verified
to be viable because all reaction forces on the plane locators
under the variable clamping forces are positive as shown in
Fig. 10. The variable minimum clamping forces required to
maintain the part stability over time are determined as shown
in Fig. 11. Figure 12 shows the positions of reactions on the
plane locators. If a dynamic clamp is employed, the clamp
Machining Fixture Verification for Nonlinear Systems 437
Fig. 12. Positions of reactions on plane locators over time (Z = 0).
should provide variable clamping forces on the workpiece with
respect to machining time. If a constant clamping force rather
than a variable clamping setting is employed, the static mini-
mum clamping forces for clamps C1, C2, C3 and C4 through-
out the operation should be set to 139.7 N, 101 N, 142.4 N,
and 102.4 N, respectively.
5. Conclusions
This paper has presented a fixture configuration verification
approach for nonlinear fixture systems where edge locators,
inclined locators, and plate locators are involved in locating
the part. A validation of the fixture configuration has been
performed in two stages: both in fixturing and in machining
to ensure the fixture is viable throughout the operation. The
fixture verification model can be embedded into an automatic
fixture design system. The proposed method can be applied
in validating the feasibility of a fixture with point, line
and surface contacts for location. A “ϱ-ϱ-ϱ” principle for
nonlinear fixture location was proposed based on the locating
line or area represented by an infinite number of pins. The
fixture verification method provides a simple and effective
means for: (1) validating a fixture configuration with respect
to locating stability, deterministic workpiece location, clamp-
ing stability and total restraint and (2) for determining
minimum variable clamping forces over the entire machining
time. Two case studies have demonstrated the effectiveness
and the capabilities of the methodology for verifying nonlin-
ear fixture systems.
Acknowledgements
This research was supported by the Natural Sciences and
Engineering Research Council of Canada, and Manitoba
Hydro.
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